Male Drill Sergeants wear the World War I campaign hat (nicknamed the "Brown Round") and female Drill Sergeants wear the olive drab Australian bush cap informally known as "cowgirl" hats. Drill Sergeant is one of the most important duty positions in the military and only the best non-commissioned officers are selected for such duty.
Basic Training Frequently Asked Questions
When your soldier first starts, you will probably have many questions. We hope this helps to answer some. If you have a question and you don't see it on here, please contact us.
What happens first when my soldier gets to the post?
Your soldier will first be assigned to a "reception battalion," which is a precursor to basic training. During their stay in the reception battalion, they will get their first military haircut (this does not apply to females, unless they need their hair cut, as long as it can be put back or is short enough to be off of the ears, eyebrows, and collar), get their ID tags and uniforms, get their vaccinations updated, learn a little bit about the military and its ranking structure, and attend physical training (PT). His/her stay in the reception battalion will vary from a few days to several weeks.
Why might my soldier have to stay in the reception battalion for so long?
There are several reasons why your soldier might have to stay in the reception battalion. The biggest reason is timing-- there are no available basic training units at the time. After a basic training unit graduates, the drill sergeants will go and pick up a new company from the reception battalion. Another reason might be that your soldier hasn't yet met the minimum physical training requirements.
Can I call my soldier on the phone?
No. Phone calls are a privilege, to be given only after your soldier has demonstrated a positive attitude or outstanding advances in training. If your soldier or their Commanding Officer needs to contact you, they will.
What if I have an emergency where I absolutely have to contact my soldier?
In an emergency, you need to do one of two things: You may contact your soldier's Commanding Officer by email, and you can usually find his email address inside the unit's website. Also, you can contact your local Red Cross office, and they will relay the emergent information to your soldier and his/her basic training cadre. In certain instances, such as a death in the family, your soldier may be given leave to go home and attend the funeral. This may delay your soldier's training, however.
What are Drill Sergeants like?
Most often, our impressions of Drill Sergeants come from the movies and television. Drill Sergeants are not like that! Drill Sergeants are chosen from the top 10% of all Army NCO's, so they are the top in their field. They have usually been in the Army for more than 10 years, so they know their job well. Drill Sergeants are extremely well-trained, professional, and dedicated to training your soldier to be the best in the world. They will not hit or abuse your soldier in any way.
Can I send my soldier letters?
Yes. After your soldier has gotten settled into his basic training unit, their Commanding Officer will send you a very informative letter in the mail. This letter will give you the mailing address for sending letters.
Can I send my soldier Care Packages?
No. There are several items considered contraband in Basic Training. Among these are candy, chewing gum, cookies, soft drinks, and tobacco products. All these products undermine the physical training advancements your soldier is attaining, and they will be confiscated.
Why don't I receive many letters from my soldier?
Your soldier is learning many new, impressive skills during his/her basic training. Each evening, after his/her daily training is completed, he/she will be given an hour or so of "personal time," during which he can relax and get ready for the next day. Quite often your soldier is very tired from the work they've done, and just doesn't have the energy to write very often. But please keep sending them letters anyway! They will enjoy reading about the happenings at home, and your words of encouragement are priceless to them.
What happens if my soldier gets sick in basic training?
Your soldier is given the opportunity each morning to go on "sick call" so they can see a doctor for medicine. The doctor will give them bed rest orders, send them to the infirmary, or admit them to the hospital. The doctors will contact you if they think it's necessary. Your soldier's Drill Sergeants are also medically trained to administer first aid, giving IV liquid if required. They are always in radio contact with someone who can get an ambulance to the hurt or sick soldier, if necessary.
Can my soldier attend church services while in basic training?
Yes. Soldiers may attend any of several religious services. The Army respects our First Amendment right to practice religion. Drill Sergeants will shuttle trainees to various chapels.
What about graduation? Can I attend?
Yes, you are highly urged to attend your soldier's graduation ceremony. In the letter you will receive from your soldier's Commanding Officer, it will give specific dates and times so you can attend the ceremony.
If I attend his/her graduation, where are the hotels I could stay?
If you plan to stay more than a day in the area where your soldier attends basic training, you should call the nearest city's Chamber of Commerce for some recommendations about clean, safe accommodations during your visit.
How long does Basic Training last?
During boot camp (or basic as some call it) recruits go through a variety of training exercises, history of their branch of service and its traditions, as well as the physical training. It usually culminates in a last exercise to complete before passing. The Marines have The Crucible, the Navy has Battle Stations, the Army has Victory Forge and the Air Force has Scorpion's Nest. Once the recruit has passed their respective "test" they are now a member of that branch of the service. This is a very proud moment for them all and it is not unusual for grown men/women to cry at that moment!
Initial Active Duty Training (IADT) consists of two phases: Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Basic Training is ten weeks long. Every soldier in the Army attends the same type of basic training. For instance, infantrymen have the same training as military police, food service technicians, finance clerks, etc. In the AIT phase, soldiers learn more specialized skills specific to their jobs in the Army. For instance, infantrymen learn about infantry techniques and weapons, military police learn police procedures, food service techs learn about nutrition and food safety, and finance clerks learn about military pay procedures. There are more than 150 jobs in the US Army, so every AIT is different in length. Some AIT's are held at a different Army post from where your soldier attends Basic Training.
What is OSUT?
OSUT is an acronym for One-Station Unit Training. This applies to soldiers in the Infantry. The Infantry has combined its Basic Training and AIT to be one 14-week long training session. Your soldier will attend more streamlined training, and will develop camaraderie with his/her fellow trainees during this time.
Does my soldier get a break from OSUT?
Maybe. Not all units get a weekend mid-cycle break, for various reasons. If you hope to visit your soldier during his break, keep your travel plans flexible. The mid-cycle break is a privilege, and not everyone will get one.
Can my soldier come home with me after he/she graduates from Basic Training?
Every soldier's situation is different. Many will go on to other schools and will not have time to come home on leave. You need to make arrangements with your soldier as he/she nears graduation.
Where can I get other information about my soldier's training?
Each base's website is different, but a wealth of information more specific to the post where your soldier is stationed. You can browse through each post's website for other interesting information. Here are the websites for you to view also, if you have any other questions.
Basic Training Websites
Fort Sill, OK - http://sill-www.army.mil
Fort Jackson, SC - http://jackson.armylive.dodlive.mil
Fort Leonard Wood, MO - http://www.wood.army.mil
Fort Benning, GA - http://www.benning.army.mil