Army Basic Combat Training
Army Basic Combat Training is ten weeks long, including reception, and takes place at four bases across the country.
- Fort Jackson, South Carolina
- Fort Benning, Georgia
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
- Fort Sill, Oklahoma
The fort that your trainee will be sent to for basic training depends on his MOS.
Whatever base your soldier-in-training might be sent to for Basic Combat Training, the first step once they arrive will be reception. Depending on what day your SIT arrives on-post, this process will last about five to seven days and mostly involves standing in line, filling out paperwork, and being issued gear, including PT uniforms, OCPs, and boots. Depending on the fort your trainee has been sent to, he may still have his cell phone during this process and may have time at the end of the night to call or text before lights out. This is not a guarantee.
Once reception is over, your trainee will be moved from the reception battalion to a new training battalion, which he will be assigned for the entirety of basic training (unless he is sent back in training or injured). The last time you talk to your trainee will be the scripted phone call that they receive once they arrive at their battalion- this is extremely short, completely scripted and you might have a hard time understanding what they are saying over the phone as everyone in the platoon will be yelling around them. Don’t expect to have an actual conversation during this call- it has one purpose, and that’s to give you their battalion and address. If you’re interested in how to address a letter to a trainee, click here for a guide on sending letters.
After the scripted phone call, red phase begins, and the next time you hear from him will probably be in a letter. Depending on when your SIT writes, it will take about two weeks to get your first letter. Don’t be too worried if your SIT sounds upset, worried, or unhappy. This lifestyle is completely new to them and it is the drill sergeants’ job to break them down at this early stage. It is completely normal for your SIT to be unsure of himself or unconfident. When you write back, just be sure to be as positive and motivating as you can.
After about three weeks, your SIT should phase up to White Phase, which is marksmanship and weapons training. During this time, your trainee will go through basic rifle marksmanship, field training exercises, and further weapons training, including throwing a live grenade.
Sometimes, drill sergeants allow trainees phone privileges for doing well in team events or phasing up, but this is not guaranteed. It’s best to assume that you’ll get no phone calls.
This is the final phase of basic training. During this phase, trainees complete their final Army Physical Fitness Test and complete Victory Forge, which is a final field training exercise that lasts several days and includes lots of marching, little sleep, and practicing skills that trainees have developed in their time at basic training. Once this phase is over, congratulations are in order because your trainee is officially a soldier! Have fun at graduation and don’t forget to take plenty of pictures.
During BCT, communication with your SIT will be minimal. Your SIT will not have access to his phone and the main source of communication between the two of you will be letters- which move very slowly both on and off-base. Depending on what base your SIT is sent to and what battalion they are assigned, they may or may not be given time to make phone calls throughout training, but this is completely up to the drill sergeants and calls are generally infrequent.
Once you receive your trainee’s mailing address, it’s extremely important to start sending letters as soon as you can. Addressing a letter to your SIT might seem confusing, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite easy. Here is an example of an address to a trainee in BCT:
PVT Smith, John J
Bravo Co., X Platoon, X-XX INF REGT
Fort XXXX, *State* *Zipcode*
The main parts of this address are the regiment, the battalion, the company and the platoon. Those are the three most important pieces of information that you will need to begin writing to your trainee. In the address above, X-XX signifies the regiment and battalion. Some examples of BCT training regiments could be 2-13, 3-60, or 4-39. The group of students is then further split into companies, usually A-E, and even further into platoons, usually 1-4. If you ‘d like to know more about Army structure, click here.Once you have those pieces of information, though, you’ll be able to start writing. If you do not have the street address of the battalion, one quick Google search can yield the answer.**Note: Some basic training locations also assign trainees roster numbers. If your trainee gives you a roster number, BE SURE to include it in your address!**
There are only two phone calls that are guaranteed: one at the beginning of BCT to give loved ones information about their mailing address and one at the end of Victory Forge to update loved ones on graduation. Every other phone call is a privilege given to SITs by their drill sergeants for phasing up or winning an event. It’s best not to expect any phone calls at all except for the two guaranteed calls so you’re not disappointed if your SIT does not get any.