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Getting a Jump Start on Basic Military Training

Updated on April 22, 2013

Alright, Trainee, First Thing is First!

Basic Military Training for the Air Force is not very physically demanding. It's a mental test that will push your mind to the limits. Had I known the things I'm about to tell you now, my time in BMT would have been much easier. Knowledge is power, and hopefully, after reading this, you will be more comfortable in what you'll need to know before jumping in to a life changing situation.

Know The Reporting Statement!

"Sir/Ma'am! Trainee (whatever) reports as ordered!" I don't know what is so freaking hard about this statement, but it comes out like crap the first 50 times you'll say it to your training instructor. I know it sounds stupid, but practice this line a lot. Maybe even tell your recruiter you'd like to practice on him or her. The reason being that you WILL screw it up when the pressure is on. Either you'll forget your line, or you'll say it in a dumb way, like saying orders instead of ordered. Everyone gets better at it by the time BMT is over, but it will save you a lot of head ache by practicing this now. Also, learn to stand at attention, because while you say it, you need to be standing that way. Speaking of standing at attention, that leads me to my next tip.

Know How to Stand At Attention

Whenever you give a reporting statement, you'll need to be standing at attention. Even when you become operational, you should do this as you address officers, but realistically, it doesn't happen very often. Know what parade rest is, and know what attention is. Here is a run down of how to do it, but you may want to look up a youtube video or pictures to get a better idea.

Stand up straight and tall, and keep your hips level. Suck in your stomach as tight as possible. Keep your chest lifted and arched with your shoulders squared. Your TI will tell you to stick your chest out, and whenever you do something in the military, the more exaggerated it is, the better.

Touch your heels together and have the toes of both feet go out at a 45-degree angle. Keep your body weight resting equally on your heels and balls of your feet.

Put the arms straight at your sides along the seams of your pants. Keep your thumbs pointing downward along the seam while curling the fingers loosely toward the palm.

Look straight ahead with your head up focusing your eyes directly in front of you. Keep your face straight and relaxed. If you smile, prepare for hell.

Know Your Ranks

It's fairly easy once you get used to it, but you'll have to know and describe each and every rank in the Air Force. Your paygrade will consist of E1-E9, E stands for enlisted. Then you'll need to know the officer paygrades, from O-1 through O-10.

  • E-1 Is Airman Basic, and there is no insignia for it.
  • E-2 Is an Airman, and it consists of a chevron with 1 stripe.
  • E-3 Is Airman First Class, which consists of a chevron with 2 stripes.
  • E-4 Is Senior Airman, which consists of a chevron with 3 stripes.
  • E-5 Is a Staff Sergeant, which consists of a chevron with 4 stripes.
  • E-6 is a Technical Sergeant, which consists of a chevron with 5 stripes.
  • E-7 Is a Master Sergeant which consists of a chevron with 6 stripes, 5 on the bottom and one on the top.
  • E-8 Is a Senior Master Sergeant which consists of a chevron with 7 stripes. 5 on the bottom and 2 on the top.
  • E-9 Is a Chief Master Sergeant which consists of a chevron with 8 stripes, 5 on the bottom, 3 on the top.
  • You should know that a First Sergeant is either an E-7, E-8, or E-9 with a diamond instead of a star.
  • Know the Command Chief Master Sergeant had a similar rank insignia as a Chief Master Sergeant but has an extra star.
  • Know the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force has a similar rank insignia as a Chief Master Sergeant but also has an eagle with a wreath in it.

Honestly, they really aren't all that bad.You'll learn Airman Basic - Staff Sergeant pretty quickly because that's mostly what you'll deal with, but from I hear, the Air Force is aiming to add more Technical Sergeants and Master Sergeants to become TI's due to their maturity.

The officer ranks are a bit harder, because you never see them. However, they still aren't all that bad.

  • O-1 is a 2nd Lieutenant, consisting of a single gold bar.
  • O-2 is a 1st Lieutenant consisting of a single silver bar (it's more like black on their uniform)
  • O-3 is a Captain, consisting of 2 silver bars.
  • O-4 is a Major, consisting of a gold oak leaf
  • O-5 is a Lieutenant Colonel, consisting of a Silver Oak Leaf
  • O-6 is a Colonel, consisting of an Eagle
  • O-7 Is a Brigadier General, 1 Star
  • O-8 is a Major General, 2 Stars
  • O-9 is a Lieutenant General, 3 Stars
  • O-10 is a General, 4 Stars

Remember this acronym "BE MY LITTLE GENERAL" which will help you remember Brigadier, Major, Lieutenant, and General for the ranks. It makes it much easier to remember the ranks. Also, for some reason, Silver is better than gold, so just remember the silver is always a higher rank than gold. You'll have a ton of time to learn all of this while you're in basic, but it'll help a lot knowing most of them in advance.

Be in Decent Shape

While the Air Force is not as physically demanding as other branches, you'll still want to be fairly in shape. When I joined, I ran my mile and a half in about 14 minutes, which is epically horrible. When I finished, I ran in 10:20. You will get better at running, trust me. However, you really should prepare, because having a crappy run time will ensure you that you'll be doing extra PT, which makes you look like an idiot. Luckily, that was never an issue for me, but I remember seeing the extracurricular fat camp around the squadron. Honestly, if you hit these numbers before arriving to BMT, you should be alright:

13 minute mile and a half. You can get away with a slower time, but to save from stress, you may want to aim for that before you get there.

35-40 push ups in a minute

45-50 sit ups in a minute.

Again, These are recommendations, and anything below that doesn't ensure failure. Also, those are the male recommendations, I have no clue what the female requirements are, but still, the more prepared you are physically, the easier BMT will be for you mentally.

The Airman's Creed and Air Force Song

Your recruiter will tell you to know this. You really don't need to know it all too well. Of course, I say this now, then all of a sudden you'll show up and need to know them both right away. When I went in, we didn't really need to know them, we learned them along the way. Every morning before PT you'll do both of them, so you'll get them down pretty quickly, however, I suggest learning the Airman's Creed first.

Other Little Tips

Some of other things you need to know, I can't really teach you here. But I can tell you what it'll be about. You'll have to know your chain of command, starting from your Dorm Chief, up to the President of the United States. It'll be about 10 people or so that you'll have to know, it's really not all that bad, however, it changes a lot so I really can't give you the list to start studying. Some of them though will be:

  • President of the Unites States
  • Vice President
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force

You'll have to know their names and what their title is. Again, it's not all that hard, but you'll have to put some effort into it.

Another thing you'll learn is some information about the M16A2, which is the weapon you'll be learning about in basic. You'll need to know the effective range of a point target, an area target, the settings (Automatic, Semi-Automatic, and Safe), as well as a little bit of other information I can't remember. I want to say there's about 8 questions about your weapon that you'll need to know, so it's not all that bad.

Last But Not Least

Know when to shut up, and show up prepared to work. Don't question, just do. If you go in, do your job, and stay off your TI's radar, you'll do fine. Yes, you'll screw up, but it's better to screw up trying your best, than to screw up not trying at all. Put your head down, go 100 miles per hour, and screw up or succeed at 100 miles per hour. Pay attention, take criticism in stride, and remember, it's only a few weeks, and each week gets better. Good luck, Aim High, Fly, Fight, and Win.


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    • nickshamrock profile image

      nickshamrock 4 years ago

      The Air Force doesn't have warrant officers anymore. The Navy does, though. Does the Army still have them? I haven't seen any, so I don't know for sure. Some of the NCO's, and SNCO's in my office were talking about how nice it would be to have them back in the Air Force.

    • Marquis profile image

      Marquis 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, MI

      You did not include warrant officer rank.

      I once thought about being a warrant officer.