Army launches a redesigned Basic Combat Training

Now this story should warm the hearts of veterans and raise hopes for a tougher Army.

Testing strength of purpose, building group readiness, and providing cohesive units — new recruits are about to learn what military life is like. No more entitled attitudes allowed.


Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Jonathan Christal, B Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery, marches Basic Combat Training Soldiers in for classroom training. (U.S. Army Photo/Mr. James Brabenec)


Low Recruit Discipline Prompts Army
to Redesign Basic Training
Matthew Cox
February 9, 2018

The U.S. Army will soon launch a redesign of Basic Combat Training intended to build more discipline after many commanders complained that new soldiers often show up to their first units with a sloppy appearance and undisciplined attitudes.

By early summer, new recruits will go through Army BCT that’s designed to instill strict discipline and esprit de corps by placing a new emphasis in drill and ceremony, inspections, pride in military history while increasing the focus on critical training such as physical fitness, marksmanship, communications and battlefield first aid skills.

The program will also feature three new field training exercises that place a greater emphasis on forcing recruits to demonstrate Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, the list of key skills all soldiers are taught to survive in combat.

The new program of instruction is the result of surveys taken from thousands of leaders who have observed a trend of new soldiers fresh out of training displaying a lack of obedience and poor work ethic as well as being careless with equipment, uniform and appearance, Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commanding general of the U.S. Army Center of Initial Military Training, told defense reporters on Friday.

“What leaders have observed in general is they believe that there is too much of a sense of entitlement, questioning of lawful orders, not listening to instruction, too much of a buddy mentality with NCOs and officers and a lot of tardiness being late to formation and duties,” Frost said. “These are trends that they see as increasing that they think are part of the discipline aspect that is missing and that they would like to see in the trainees that become soldiers that come to them as their first unit of assignment.”

As commanding general of IET, Frost was tasked with increasing the quality of training and reducing new soldier attrition.

After compiling the data from surveys of about 27,000 commissioned officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers, the message was very clear, Frost said.

“The number-one thing that was asked for five-fold or five times as much as any of the other categories was discipline,” Frost said.

“First-unit-of-assignment leaders want Initial Entry Training to deliver disciplined, physically-fit new soldiers who are willing to learn, they are mentally tough, professional and are proud to serve in the United States Army.”

In addition to discipline and physical fitness, leaders also wanted technical and tactical proficiency in warrior tasks and battle drills.

After working out the details in a pilot at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the Army has approved a new POI that Frost hopes will better instill into recruits exactly what it means to be a soldier.

“We really tried to attack it by getting after more discipline and esprit de corps,” Frost said.

One new aspect features a series of history vignettes of major battles that the Army has fought in, from Valley Forge in the Revolutionary War all the way to Iraq in Baghdad, Frost said.

“We highlighted those battles; we tied them to Army Values and the Soldier’s Creed and highlighted an individual who received the Medal of Honor or other valor award for actions during each battle,” Frost said.

“So soldiers will learn across all of Basic Combat Training at all the Army training centers what it means to be a soldier, the history of the United States Army through the battles and the campaign streamers and the wars that we have fought and they will be able to look to and emulate a soldier who executed a valorous act during that war.”

The new standardized booklet will be given to each recruit along with their Blue Book at the beginning of training.

Recruits will also learn discipline by doing more practice at a skill that may be as old as soldiering itself — drill and ceremony.

When the war began after the attacks of 9/11, the Army decreased its focus on D&C, inspections and other skills that stress attention to detail to make more time for combat skill training.

“There are a lot of folks that say ‘we need to go back to the drill and ceremony because we have lost a lot of the discipline aspect of what it means to be a United States Army soldier,'” Frost said.

“It’s not like they are going to be sitting out there just doing D&C all the time. The drill and ceremony is going to be interwoven into when they move to and from places … so the movements won’t just be lollygagging, non-tactical movements, they will be actually executing some team drill and ceremony as they move to and from the chow hall and move to and from the barracks.”

But the new BCT isn’t all about spit and polish, Frost said.

“The other big piece we are doing in Basic Combat Training that helps with the esprit de corps and the discipline aspect and also lends a measure of grit and resilience to [BCT] is we have three major field training exercises that we are going to do now. We are calling them the Hammer, the Anvil and the Forge,” Frost said, describing how the final Forge FTX is an homage to the Army’s historic ties to Valley Forge.

“That is going to be a culminating FTX which is a graduation requirement. It will be an 81-hour field training exercise with about 40 miles of tactical road marching that is conducted through a series of tactical events and mini field training exercises.”

The Forge will include a night infiltration course and a medical evacuation mass casualty exercise. There will be ethical dilemmas soldiers have to negotiate as well as a battle march and shoot, a resupply mission which involves moving supplies, ammo, water to a link-up point, patrol base activities, combat patrols as well as an obstacle course, Frost said.

“If you succeed in making it through the 81-hour FTX … then what will happen is you will earn the right to become a soldier,” Frost said. “You will earn your beret, you will earn a ‘soldier for life’ certificate, you will get your National Defense Service Medal and your uniform will look exactly like a United States Army soldier.”

The new BCT POI weeded out “lot of redundant areas and areas that have crept in that did not get after the basics” — shoot, move, communicate and protect or survive, Frost said.

For weapons qualification, recruits will be required to qualify with backup iron sights instead of just on close-combat optic sights.

Physical fitness standards will also be increased, requiring each soldier to score at least 60 points on all three events of the Army Physical Fitness Test instead of 50 points on each as a graduation standard.

Each recruit will also receive 33 hours of combatives training instead of 22 hours, Frost said.

Recruits will receive an increased amount of tactical combat casualty care training such as basic combat lifesaver.

The course will also teach “some of the basics that we had kind of lost with respect to communications such as basic hand and arm signals, and we have doubled the amount of basic reporting on the radio communications” such as MEDEVAC and similar requests, Frost said.

The new BCT does, however, do away with hand grenade qualification and land navigation course qualification as graduation requirements.

“What we have found is it is taking far, far too much time. It’s taking three to four times as much time … just to qualify folks on the hand grenade course than we had designated so what is happening is it is taking away from other aspects of training,” Frost said.

“We are finding that there are a large number of trainees that come in that quite frankly just physically don’t have the capacity to throw a hand grenade 20 to 25 to 30 meters. In 10 weeks, we are on a 48-hour period; you are just not going to be able to teach someone how to throw if they haven’t thrown growing up.”

Recruits will still receive the same amount of training in these areas, Frost said.

“Just because we took it off as a graduation requirement does not mean they won’t be conducting hand grenade or land navigation training,” Frost said. “They are going to learn all the technical aspects of the hand grenade, and they are going to learn tactical employment and they will throw a live hand grenade.

“With land navigation, it’s the same thing they are still going to conduct land navigation training; they are still going to conduct the day course they are still going to conduct the night course.”

The new changes to BCT, Frost said, will hopefully make new soldiers better prepared for their advanced individual training, first unit of assignment and result in a lower, new-soldier attrition rate

“If we can get a more physically fit, better prepared, more-disciplined soldier in Basic Combat Training, AIT and [One-Station Unit Training] then we believe we will have less attrition in first unit of assignment,” Frost said.

Source – Reading the comments section will make your day!


I actually think that every young person should do a stint in a military-style boot camp right after the graduation (or drop out) of high school. Once the boot camp and year of service is over, (including FEMA or FIRE preparedness and rescue) then it would be up to them to continue on into military service (with perks like college after), take trade or college level courses, or go on to general living in the world of reality.

Most businesses and government employment positions, I am sure would jump for joy if this happened.

Just think how much could be save if Congress set up this program and drafted all 17-20 year olds into a one year mandatory training cycle. This would be a good way to use our tax dollars that would hopefully instill a better way of thinking and living while saving on tax dollars used for youth detention programs or rehab centers, or having them commit suicide.

Under 25 year olds have all lost this area of real life and growth. Every one of them would at least be given a six month or year-long service/training level on discipline and responsibility that could open a lot of options which would help them better than any graduation gift or parental pat on the head.


About Uriel

Retired educator and constitutionalist
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21 Responses to Army launches a redesigned Basic Combat Training

  1. Pingback: HN&F | Army launches a redesigned Basic Combat Training | Brittius

  2. Wise Owl says:

    Excellent, Uriel! I totally agree! We have a generation of wimps that need to be taught integrity, respect, and toughness!

  3. Terry says:

    Putting discipline back in the military is good news for sure.
    And, while I agree with you and Wise Owl on the idea of a mandatory service period, trying to implement it on the snowflakes of today would be quite a challenge.

  4. deacsdomain says:

    bout time we got the “pussies” out & the men in

  5. MWB0311 says:

    I believe the USMC might need to look at their basic as well. If one more young Marine smiles and says “it was fun” when I ask them how boot camp was I am going to scream…:)

    • Uriel says:

      lol welcome MWB. I agree all military needs to stop enabling and start training for survival and their job. However you would probably be surprised I talk to business leaders sometimes and THEY say the same things. This isn’t just a military issue it’s an epidemic brought on by pandering to children and absentee parenting bolstered by judicial intervention. I monitored an online game for a time and could always tell the younger people by their aggressive attitudes and bad language behavior.

  6. Popular Front says:

    Oh yeah! The US Army is going back to the kind of induction and indoctrination I had when I joined the Australian Army in 1962. Our thinking was, and is that you have to BUILD a soldier. He arrives with the desire to join and you have to take that material and mold it, by way of uniform drill, appearance, esprit de corps and discipline. The lessons that have been learned by your senior NCOs are passed down to the new recruits, the unit histories, the bravery of individuals and units; it is all passed on. Even now at my age, and after all this time I still remember most of it and am proud of that fact.

    • Uriel says:

      I agree mostly Popular there are cases of bad behavior from NCO’s though that needs to be addressed. I remember how it changed my son too. In fact to this day he is tougher on his children than most because he wants them to handle life better.

    • GunnyG says:


      I worked with the Aussies in TT 1999 and Croc 2000 and 2001. Total professionals.

    • Whitetop says:

      What we are experiencing her PF is the result of decades of participation trophies. Everyone gets a trophy just for being part of the event regardless of talent. That makes all equal and you know where that comes from.

  7. Danne says:

    Yea, but they won’t have to throw grenades….might break a nail. 😉

  8. GunnyG says:

    Once upon a time in Iraq I was sitting at a table in the 4th ID chowhall with my coworkers and a few active duty military that I worked with. One was a LtCdmr (the boss), one was a Gunny, and the other was an AF 1st Lt. The table next to us was staffed with 6 USAF Majors and above. I went on about how ALL military recruits should go through USMC boot camp FIRST before going to the boot camp of their selected service! When we were leaving The Boss said to me, “did you realize that you have the total attention of EVERYONE at that other table!”

    You have to CRUSH the civilian before you can make them into a warrior.

    • Edsss says:

      ….unless you’re a woman…………..
      The Marine Corps has made a major change to its Infantry Officer Course. The first big challenge for many was a test of physical fitness. If you passed, you moved on. If you didn’t, you washed out. The test was especially difficult for women who had to meet the same standard as the men. Not anymore.

      The Infantry Officer Course now uses the physical fitness test as an exercise, and not a pass/fail requirement.

      • Uriel says:

        I hadn’t heard that Edsss but it does make some sense. Why exclude those that make a serious effort but can’t pass the major bar for combat there are a lot of new areas that don’t need that heightened level just don’t allow them in field duty. I also noticed several in a video that wore glasses. This too would limit effectiveness in field but they can still handle noncombatant things.

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