United States Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT or boot camp) is an eight and a half week rigorous program of physical and mental training required in order for an individual to become an Airman in the United States Air Force, United States Air Force Reserve, or Air National Guard. It is carried out at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. BMT is designed to be both mentally and physically challenging, as well as requiring the individual to quickly adjust psychologically to an unfamiliar way of life.

Those who wishing to become officers will attend the United States Air Force Academy, Officer Training School, or Reserve Officer Training Corps.

US Air Force Military Training Instructor

Military Training Instructors or TI's are the instructors that are responsible for most of the training that takes place in BMT. They accompany trainees throughout the training process, instructing and correcting them in everything from correct procedures for firing a weapon to the correct way to speak to a superior. They are known for their campaign covers typically called "Smokey the Bear" or "Smokey" hats.

US Air Force Daily schedule

There really is no typical day in Air Force Basic Military Training, however here is a breakdown of how a day might proceed.

Time Activity Description
0445 Reveille Wakeup
0500 Downstairs in formation Get ready for PT
0500-0600 Physical Training This will alternate. One day you will run, the next day you do anaerobic exercises.
0600-0615 Breakfast
0630-0745 Dorm Setup Make beds and make sure everything is in order
0800-1130 Daily Activities Drilling, classes, records checks, shots, uniform issue, etc.
1130–1230 Lunch
1300-1700 Classroom/dorm instruction Mail call is performed during this time
1700–1800 Dinner
1900–2045 Set up the dorm for nighttime
2100 Taps Lights out

Diet, fitness, and medical care of US Air Force Training

Prior to arriving at basic training, all prospective trainees undergo a physical examination by a doctor at their local Military Entrance Processing Station or MEPS. Trainees receive their initial weigh-in when they arrive at Lackland. If the trainee is under or over the height and weight standards, the trainee is placed on double rations if underweight, or in a "diet" status if overweight.

All trainees receive three meals a day, also known as "chow time." These are either served at the dining facility (DFAC, also known as the "chow hall"), or as a Meal, Ready-to-Eat during field training. Meal time may last 30 minutes or less, depending on the order the flight arrives at the chow hall. Trainees are mandated a minimum of 20 minutes to consume each meal. Realize however that most trainees usually receive about 1 minute or so to actually eat their meal, kindly referred to as "Sit, Eat, and Get Out." Much of the 20 minutes may be spent waiting in line, trainees in the flight assigned as "water monitors" reporting in the chow hall, and removing, properly storing, and re-donning any carried equipment.

Trainees that sustain injuries or illnesses that disrupt their training are sent to the Medical Rehabilitation Flight. Once they are again medically fit, re-join a flight that was at an equivalent place in the training cycle that the trainee left.

US Air Force Training Schedule

Basic Military Training is an eight and a half week cycle of training which begins with the receiving phase (also known as zero week) and ending with graduation.

Zero Week

All trainees now ship out to Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, every Tuesday. As the first uniform issue is not until the following Thursday or Friday, trainees will be wearing civilian clothes for at least one full day, and possibly two days. During this period, the trainees will be referred to as Rainbows, because of the flight's bright and varied clothing colors. Due to the stress on their feet, new trainees will continue to wear sneakers with their uniforms until the end of Zero Week, earning them the nickname "Sneaker Weekers" or "Baby Flights".

Trainees will undergo a urinalysis test the day after arriving. Any trainee that fails the drug test will immediately be separated. The trainees are given the opportunity to phone their next of kin and inform them of the trainee's safe arrival, then are searched for contraband. From here, the males receive their first military haircut, where they are left essentially bald. Females are instructed in the authorized hairstyling, which allow hair to be short enough to not touch the collar or in a bun. The remainder of receiving involves completing paperwork, issuing an M16A2 Trainer Weapon, receiving vaccines and medical tests, storing civilian belongings and taking an Initial Fitness Test. The following chart shows physical fitness achievement levels as well as the minimum requirements for graduating Air Force Basic Military Training:

Males Run(1.5 mile) Push-ups Sit-ups Pull-ups
Liberator (minimum graduation standard) 11:57 min. 45 50 0
Thunderbolt (honor graduate standard) 9:30 min. 55 60 5
Warhawk (extraordinary - highest standard) 8:55 min. 65 70 10
Females Run(1.5 mile) Push-ups Sit-ups Pull-ups
Liberator (minimum graduation standard) 14:21 min. 27 50 0
Thunderbolt (honor graduate standard) 12:00 min. 32 55 2
Warhawk (extraordinary - highest standard) 10:55 min. 40 60 5

Week #2

This is the Pre-Deployment Phase. Here trainees will sit down with a job counselor and are shown a list of jobs they qualify for, and that are available, and are instructed to prioritize that list in order of preference. The job counselors then take the preferences, and the preferences of all of the other recruits in the same week of training that are in the same guaranteed aptitude area, and try and work it out the best they can to give everyone the preferences they want[4]. Those who enlisted with a guaranteed job will not go though this process. Trainees also learn and practice integrated base defense, tactical movement, firing positions and force protection, using the M-16 in several practice scenarios.

Week #3

Trainees undergo extensive training with the M-16. Trainees will learn and practice the rules for safe use and handling of the weapon. They will also receive training in how to assemble, disassemble, clean, and repair the M-16. Trainees will also be trained in self-aid and buddy care.

Week #4

In Week #4, trainees will go through the obstacle course. The Air Force Obstacle Course consists of 20 obstacles, designed to test strength, endurance, and will power. The course also encourages team-building, as the trainees waiting to tackle an obstacle cheer for their flight mates. Trainees climb over, under and around obstacles. Trainees will also go through CBRNE training and learn how to counter threats such as terrorism, biological and chemical weapons and security breaches. Included in the CBRNE training is gas mask training, specifically the gas chamber. Trainees will also be fitted for and issued their blues during this week.

Week #5

During this week, the trainees will participate in two sets of fighting training. The trainees will be instructed in various rifle fighting techniques and then participate in pugil stick fighting to demonstrate knowledge of these techniques. Trainees will wear protective gear and will constantly be watched by the TI to ensure no one is seriously injured.

The trainees will also visit CATM where they will fire and qualify using an M-16 rifle. During the actual firing, trainees will fire at a man-sized target at 75 yards, 180 yards, and 300 yards in the standing, sitting, kneeling and prone positions. A total of 50 rounds will be fired during the qualification and those who hit the targets at least 43 times qualify for the Small Arms Expert Ribbon.

Week #6

During Week #6, trainees will be sent to the BEAST on the Medina Annex. The BEAST, or Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training, is the final test in BMT. This represents the culmination of all the skills and knowledge an Airman should possess. These skills and tactics the trainees have learned will be put to test in realistic field training exercises and combat scenarios.

It is a grueling and intense 96-hour exercise that will push the trainee to his or her limits. The trainees are required to wear body armor and helmets and carry at all times their rucksacks, three MREs, a flashlight, full chemical MOPP suit and gas mask, two canteens and an M16. The site has four zones, called Reaper, Predator, Vigilant and Sentinel, that simulate self-contained forward operating bases. Each zone is a ring of 12 field tents, 10 for barracks, plus a command post and hospital tent, centered around a three-story observation tower and a hardened briefing facility that serves as an armory and bomb shelter. The zone is defended by five sandbag defensive firing positions, and trainees control access to the zone through an entry control point.

Trainees will see what Airmen on convoy escort duty endure on a daily basis - incoming mortar rounds, complex attacks, roadside bombs, car bombs, and unexploded ordnance. They'll be taught how to identify potential threats and who to report them to in their chain of command. BEAST week will be entirely devoted to scenario training. As they take advantage of more field time to hone their newly acquired infantry skills, the trainees also will have more hands-on instruction in buddy care, culminating in a final exercise on the last day of the exercise. The BEAST site includes a 1.5-mile improvised explosive device (IED) trail littered with simulated roadside bombs. Trainees learn to spot IEDs and then use the trail in training scenarios. For example, under one scenario, trainees make their way down the "lane" in tactical formation, trying to identify IEDs from the other debris such as soda cans. At the end of the trail, trainees are broken into teams of two "wingmen," and negotiate a combat-obstacle course (low-crawl under netting, hide behind walls, roll behind bushes and timbers, strike dummies with the butt of your rifle, high crawl 60 yards through deep sand up a 40 percent grade). Teamwork is stressed, as the majority of tasks are completely impossible without it; each group must succeed or fail as a whole. The others will result in failure unless every trainee passes through together, requiring the team to aid its fellow trainee(s) who struggle in the accomplishment of the given mission. On the last day the trainees begin their final march.

Week #7

Week seven of BMT focuses primarily on post-deployment training. During this week, you'll receive intensive classroom instruction about the difficulties many military members face when they return from a deployment, such as financial management, family issues and alcohol abuse. Trainees will also continue to practice drill and have dorm inspections. Trainees will also learn about Air Force history and heritage during this week. The final physical fitness test is also given this week. Failure to pass the final the PT test will result in the trainee being transferred to the 319th Training Squadron's "Get Fit" flight, thereby giving the trainee more time to get into shape.

Graduation Week

At the beginning of graduation week the trainee will be given their job if they haven't already received one. The final written tests will be taken. Each test is 100 questions, and the trainee must score a minimum of 70 percent to pass. In order to qualify as a possible honor graduate, the trainee must score over 90 percent on each test. The tests cover everything the trainee has learned during basic training. All trainees will participate in the 2.5 mile run known as the Airman's Run. (They will tell you later that the run is actually 3.5 miles) The run is a victory celebration of the challenges overcome and esprit de corps gained by Airmen during training. Friends and family attending the basic training graduation events will be able to watch. The day before graduation the Airman's coin ceremony will take place. Trainees will be presented with the Airman's coin. When the trainee is awarded the Airman's coin, they are no longer a trainee and have earned the right to be called an Airman. Many Airman consider this to be one of the most significant events in their career. The next day is the graduation parade. The flights will pass in review, take their final oath of enlistment and are then dismissed. This marks the end of Air Force Basic Military Training and the beginning of an Airman's career.

Prohibited and illegal activities

Activities that are prohibited during Basic Training include (but are not limited to):

  • Insubordination
  • Use of any tobacco product.
  • Possession/consumption of food, except during designated meal hours (or "chow time") and in designated areas
  • Possession of any contraband
  • Failure to perform duty (such as neglecting EC watch duties)
  • Being absent without leave (AWOL)
  • Fraternization

When a trainee engages in a prohibited activity, their TI may recommend the Commander impose non-judicial punishment (UCMJ Article 15). An Article 15 is a type of disciplinary action, also known as non-judicial punishment, and can entail any or all of the following:

  • Restriction to specific limits (normally work, dorms, place of worship, mess hall, and medical facilities) for up to 45 days
  • Extra duty for up to 45 days, usually meaning that the trainee's personal time is replaced with work detail
  • Forfeiture of up to one month's pay over a period of two months
  • Reduction by one grade of rank (demotion), which also means a permanent pay reduction until the trainee is promoted again
  • Verbal or written reprimand

Discharge from Basic Military Training

A trainee can be discharged from the Air Force before the conclusion of Basic Military Training. Discharges that occur before the completion of 180 days (approximately 6 months) of training are considered uncharacterized, which are neither honorable nor less than honorable.

  • An Entry Level Separation (ELS) can occur when a trainee demonstrates unsatisfactory performance and/or misconduct. A trainee can only be ELS'd after at least 4 weeks of training and 2 counseling sessions, except under extreme circumstances, such as the trainee being deemed suicidal.
  • If it is found that a trainee is unable to train due to a chronic medical condition, he or she may obtain a medical discharge by the recommendation of an Air Force medical doctor.
  • A discharge due to any condition Existing Prior To Service (EPTS) may occur when a trainee is found to have a prior medical condition existing before enlistment. A trainee may receive a rare honorable discharge for an EPTS condition if they have been in Basic Training for more than 180 days.

Continuing Education of US Air Force

Immediately following basic training, these newly-trained Airmen will proceed to the appropriate school for their Air Force Specialty Code. This job training can last anywhere from one month to over two years.

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