How Long Is Basic Training For Air Force – Students march in formation at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The Air Force has restructured basic military training so there is less travel time and fewer opportunities for drills.
Health and safety precautions during the pandemic have led the Air Force to eliminate parts of basic training. But some military observers question whether the changes leave airmen unprepared for service.
How Long Is Basic Training For Air Force
Some elements of basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland are the same as always. New airmen wake up at dawn for physical training, eat quietly in the mess hall, take challenge courses, and stare straight ahead as drill sergeants shout.
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But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Air Force has had to modify or cancel some of its regular training events. Basic training was shortened by a week and elements such as drills, hand-to-hand combat, casualty care and survival skills were restricted.
“We always say, ‘Flexibility is the key to air power.’ That has been a true statement,” said Technical Sgt. Alexandra Springman, military training instructor. “We’ve definitely had to adapt.”
Social distancing requirements have also forced changes to BEAST, or Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training. Under normal circumstances, recruits spend nearly a week in a simulated war zone environment, setting up camp and reviewing the lessons and combat procedures they have learned.
As part of this, students are often exposed to tear gas and practice using protective equipment. But because gas masks cannot be properly disinfected between uses, that activity is now prohibited.
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Training sticks and boxing equipment are also difficult to clean, and hand-to-hand combat techniques bring students closer together. Therefore, students are not allowed to practice striking and grappling techniques.
The care of combat injuries has also changed. Students now have to use mannequins to practice applying tourniquets and bandages, which were previously done together.
“That doesn’t provide even close to that application in the real world,” Springman said. “While it’s pretty easy to put a tourniquet on a dummy, you can’t tell if you’re actually putting the tourniquet tight enough and cutting off circulation, cutting off the blood supply.”
While Springman and other military training instructors understand the need to keep airmen safe, they still wish they could teach them more.
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“We feel like we’re being robbed in the sense of not being able to complete all of those additional training objectives that enhanced the training, because sometimes those are the things that students remember,” Springman said.
Air Force trainees use M-16 rifles at a firing range at Joint Base San Antonio as part of their weapons familiarization.
With new health and safety guidelines emerging all the time, learners and trainers have had to roll with the punches.
“You have to approach it with the attitude of ‘I’m not here to find out exactly what’s going to happen, I’m here to be trained,'” said linguist Zachary Maples, who finished his basic military training in November. Having that mindset kept the stress of changing types to a minimum.”
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Air Force leaders say the upheaval in basic training will not affect readiness. Col. Rockie Wilson, commander of the 37th Training Wing in Lackland, said basic training is meant to serve as an orientation for service members, not a final lesson.
He said there will be other opportunities in the future, such as during vocational training for airmen or before combat deployment.
“They get all that… when they get to their home station anyway,” Wilson said. “Especially if they’re going to use it on a reservation.”
But critics argue that cutting basic training is a problem. Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a bipartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., said traditional military training helps teach airmen about toughness and teamwork. Without that, they may not be mentally prepared for what comes next, he said.
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“The type of things they’ve had to tap into… are the military skills, the warrior skills that let people know that they’re in a very different environment now,” Cancian said. “It makes it a little more difficult for someone coming into a unit to accept the sacrifice that might be associated with service in the field.”
While he doesn’t necessarily see a national security threat associated with the change, he said it could create some delay.
“I would say it makes the force a little more vulnerable, and there’s a little more risk, as these new Airmen need time to get together.”
At Lackland, Col. Wilson said he and other basic military training administrators were trying to teach recruits more about the history and values of the Air Force. But he admits the pandemic has been a valuable lesson in itself.
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“This has been excellent preparation training and it’s not a drill. It’s real,” Wilson said. “So if we can beat COVID, then we can beat any competitor around the world. We know.”
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Air Force Launches A Big Change In Basic Training
United States Air Force Basic Military Training (also known as BMT or boot camp) is a seven-week program of physical and combat training required for enlistment in the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. and the United States Space Force. It is based at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
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Lackland Air Force Base hosts the Air Force’s only enlisted recruit training program, ensuring an orderly transition from civilian to military life. Recruits receive training in the basic skills necessary to succeed in the active Air Force. This includes basic warfighting skills, military discipline, physical fitness, drill and ceremony, Air Force core values, and a wide range of topics related to Air Force life.
More than 7 million young women and girls have experienced Air Force basic military training since February 4, 1946, when the training mission moved to Lackland from Harling Air Force Base in Harling, Texas. Throughout its history, the BMT Lackland program has changed in many ways to meet the operational needs of the Air Force and appropriate curriculum updates are among the most important in its 60-year history, with all aspects of the revised program.
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On November 7, 2005, BMT changed its curriculum to focus on a new type of aviator: one who is “warrior first.” The goal is to instill a warrior mentality in students from day one and better prepare Airm for the realities of the operational Air Force.
The changes arose from the need to meet current and future Air Force operational requirements. In September 2004, the 20th Basic Military Training Review Committee met in Lackland and recommended significant changes to approach, curriculum and schedule.
In 2011, it was revealed that several military training instructors were attempting to encourage inappropriate and illegal sexual relationships and advances against dozens of female trainees. The scandal led representatives of the 77th Congress to convene a hearing to investigate the incident.
Because of this incident, commanders established what is known as the buddy concept. This means that no student can go anywhere alone without another student. This allows students to learn and care for each other. Helps maintain a safer environment during basic training and when trainees enter the active Air Force.
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Military training instructors, or MTIs, are the instructors responsible for the majority of the training that takes place at BMT. They accompany trainees throughout the training process, instructing and correcting them on everything from the correct procedures for firing a weapon to the correct way to speak to a superior officer. They are known for their campaign covers known as “Smokey the Bear” or “Smokey” caps. Unlike Marine Corps drill instructors and Army drill sergeants, drill instructor caps are dark blue instead of studded or brown.
Before reaching basic training, all prospective trainees undergo a physical examination by a doctor at their local Military Trance Processing Station (MEPS). Students undergo an initial assessment when they arrive at Lackland. If the student is below or above the height and weight standards, the
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