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U.S. Army Basic Combat Training (BCT); Preparation and Motivation

Updated on February 16, 2015

Congratulations on joining the 0.5%

So you've made the choice to raise your right hand and take the time honored "U.S. Armed Forces Oath of Enlistment" to defend your family, your friends and your country from enemies both near and abroad, and to this I commend you.

We live in a world raised with new threats, new enemies and new world inequalities. As a soldier you will be the beacon of hope to that those unable to defend themselves from the treacheries of war, terrorism and inhumane treatment. You are a citizen to a great and equal country a superpower on the world stage, you could stay secluded and safe from the world past our borders but you've chosen to instead stand up, look past those borders and say, if duty shall call me to save you, I will. That bravery, that commitment not just to the United States of America but to all human kind transcends sex, race, sexuality and age for when you finally dawn your Army Combat Uniform (ACU) you will not be an individual, you will be a team member, a battle buddy, a soldier and soldier-hood doesn't know these differences, the only thing it needs concern is your like minded resolve with the brother or sister standing at attention next to you who have answered the same calling you have, the same call that the generations that preceded you heard and answered to as uncle Sam echoed out in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Desert Storm and now global terrorism. Welcome to a tradition that began on June 14th, 1775 as our young country fought oppression and rose to become one of the greatest nation to ever exist in the history of man.

Welcome on your new hymn, The "Army Strong" song, if you will, and welcome to the greatest fighting force in the world!

Operational Unit Diagrams


Trainee Today, Soldier Tomorrow

My goal today is to help you understand the process that you are soon to encounter so that you may be an exceptional trainee right out of the gate and that so you may have more confidence once you board that plane, bus, train or car to your new life as an American Soldier.

I highly recommend you learning and memorizing this article's features such as the Soldier's Creed, the Army song and the core values for you will be called to recite these nearly everyday you are there but don't see them as a burden but rather as an honor because they are now a part of your history, your family's history and the history of all who have come before you, only the bravest of men and woman have ever uttered these words.

During your time in basic you will be pushed and reshaped from individual into a fully functional team because it takes such a team to win wars; in the army these teams are called Corps, Divisions, Brigade, Battalions, Companies and Platoons as shown in the image to the right the "Operational Unit Diagram" though you only need concern yourself with the company and platoon level for basic and AIT.

My greatest words of advice are to never forget why you rose your right hand and recited our sacred oath. To understand that your Drill instructors only mission is to guide and create the new generation, your generation be you 17 or 35 years of age into strong, confident, readied soldiers to answer the call to arms whenever it may come down the chain. Be strong, be fearless, never give up, never give up on a battle buddy and always watch out for the soldier next to you both in training and in combat, that soldier may save your life someday and remember you will not graduate by yourself, it takes a team to accomplish that mission.

OSUT (One Stop Unit Training)

For some MOS's you will find that you fall under OSUT or One Stop Unit Training. All this really means is that both your BCT and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) is located at the same instillation, so once you successfully complete and graduate BCT you will simply relocate to a different area in the same location to begin and complete your AIT. Such examples of this would be the infinity OSUT at Fort Benning, Georgia or artillery OSUT at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

The Soldiers Creed

I am an American Soldier.

I am a Warrior and a member of a team.

I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.

I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

Warrior Ethos

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade

"The Soldiers Creed" and "The Army Song" recited during BCT

The Army Song


March along, sing our song, with the Army of the free

Count the brave, count the true, who have fought to victory

We're the Army and proud of our name

We're the Army and proudly proclaim


First to fight for the right,

And to build the Nation’s might,

And The Army Goes Rolling Along

Proud of all we have done,

Fighting till the battle’s won,

And the Army Goes Rolling Along.


Then it's Hi! Hi! Hey!

The Army's on its way.

Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)

For where e’er we go,You will always know

That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

"The Army Song" Audio

Illustrating the difference between chevrons and rockers on rank insignia.
Illustrating the difference between chevrons and rockers on rank insignia.

The Army Rank Structure and Your Drill Instructor

The United States Army rank system is pretty strait forward and easy to learn. Coming into the Army you will either be a PVT, PFC or SPC depending on qualifying factors such as a college degree or a referral program where you successfully was able to get another individual to enlist prior to your own ship date for basic but no matter your rank entering you are, to a drill instructor, a trainee who he or she is to mold into a competent soldier. So that patch is simply your pay through basic and even AIT and seeing as the first four ranks are time in service and time in grade based, you'll be an E-4 in no time so don't fret, as long as you uphold and exceed the standard set forth by your chain of command.

Your Drill instructors will be Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) E-5 and above, who have been entrusted to lead based on their own moral and professional successes throughout their career and were selected through a board process to promote into the NCO echelons after a thorough process that ensures only the best soldiers become leaders, therefore it is safe to say that your drill instructors will be well capable to lead you and your entire platoon to success if you pay attention and take in the lessons they are teaching you.

Seven Army Core Values "LDRSHIP"

The seven Army Values are the core principals that each soldier is to live by everyday, not just while on duty but also on personal time. Remember you are now a direct representation of both the Army and the US, it is with the utmost importance that you represent both in a favorable and positive light to others, remember you never know who's watching though it shouldn't take someone watching for you to do the right thing.

Loyalty - Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers.

Duty - Fulfill your obligations.

Respect - Treat people as they should be treated.

Selfless Service - Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.

Honor - Live up to all the Army values.

Integrity - Do what’s right, legally and morally.

Personal Courage - Face fear, danger, or adversity [physical or moral].

The Phonetic Alphabet


Understanding Military Time

The United States Army operates 24 hours a day so it seems fitting that the time conversion used is also of the 24 hour clock. The chart below shows the exact conversion between civilian time to military time, remember that time is referred to as "hundred" , for example 1200 is translated as, twelve-hundred and 0200 is referred to as zero-two hundred unless it is not the top of the hour such as 0230 which would be stated as, "zero-two thirty".

Here is an example conversation using the military 24-hour system:

PVT. Hayes: What time do we wake up for morning hygiene?

PFC. Smith: Reverie sounds at 0430 (zero-four thirty) but we have only about twenty minutes because we have until 0500 (zero-five hundred) to be formed up for morning physical training (PT).


Army Physical Fitness

Though PT will be drilled into you every day of basic combat training, it is very important that you are already in good shape. If you arrive to your training installation and fail to pass your initial evaluation (Image a) it can and will halt you from leaving Reception Battalion and starting week one of basic training, further delaying your graduation and could even lead to an "entry level separation" (ELS).

To graduate BCT you must pass your final APFT at a 50% rate and to graduate AIT you must pass with a 60% in your age bracket as seen in image (b)

Reception Battalion Standards to Begin BCT (a)

BCT Start Standard
8:30 (1 Mile)
17 (1 Minute)
12 (1 Minute)
10:30 (1 Mile)
17 ( 1 Minute)
3 ( 1 minute)

Army Physical Fitness Test Standards (APFT) (b)


Final Words of Thought

So to wrap up, always be on your toes, be alert and ready to respond to any order your drill instructor or anyone else appointed over your platoon gives. You're going to mess up from time to time. Believe it or not no one expects you to get it the first time go, that's the whole point of training, to ready your abilities and build you into a soldier who never quits. Everything they are doing is to ensure that when your time comes to be vigilant on the battlefield, you will be able to respond with quick, precise, perfect accuracy and ensure you and everyone in your future units come home safe. Basic training is in essence a large metaphor, they will push and push your ability to fold a perfect hospital corner in a bed and have your wall locker displayed perfectly, these are the tools they have at their disposal to ensure down the line, when it really matters you can respond with equal perfection. Do not resent your instructors for being hard and tough but rather embrace what they teach, admire their sense of duty and model your expectations based on the professionalism they illustrate.

I leave you with this quote by one of the greatest Generals to ever grace our uniform, Gen. George S. Patton, " Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood."

Where will you be attending "Basic Combat Training"?

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