Today's Military:

Boot Camp

Basic Training – often called boot camp – prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental and emotional. It gives servicemembers the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be asked of them for the duration of their tour. Each of the Services has its own training program, tailoring the curriculum to the specialized nature of its role in the Military.

No matter which branch of the Service a recruit chooses, Basic Training is an intense experience. However, 91 percent complete their first 6 months of service. The purpose of this training isn’t to “break” recruits. In fact, the combination of physical training, field exercises and classroom time makes individuals strong and capable. It’s a tough process, but a rewarding one that many servicemembers value for life.

Before Boot Camp

To succeed in boot camp, young adults should prepare themselves physically and mentally. Daily cardio, weight training, push-ups and sit-ups are a must. They should also practice arriving early on a regular basis and sticking to a strict schedule. Finally, potential recruits should delegate personal affairs to family or friends so they can focus on their training. For example, they will need to figure out who will pay the bills, collect the mail and manage any bank accounts while they are at boot camp.

What Not to Bring to Boot Camp

Proper packing can help ease the transition from civilian life to boot camp. The following list of what not to bring can help. Check with a recruiter for a comprehensive list.

Do Not Bring:

  • Family
  • Pets
  • Expensive personal items – laptop, camera, radio, digital music player, jewelry, etc.
  • Nonprescription drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Weapons of any type, including pocketknives
  • Obscene or pornographic material
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Playing cards/dice/dominoes
  • Cigarettes/tobacco products

NOTE: This list should only be used as a guideline. For more detailed information, contact a recruiter.

Boot Camp Orientation

While each Service has different training schedules and requirements, the orientation process is basically the same across Services. During this time, new recruits might:

  • Turn in enlistment packages (paperwork from the MEPS)
  • Receive dental and medical exams
  • Get immunizations
  • Receive uniforms and training gear (shorts/sweats, t-shirts, etc.)
  • Receive required haircuts (women can keep their hair long provided it can be worn within regulation)
  • Create direct-deposit accounts for paychecks

Starting at orientation, the actual training begins. This varies from Service to Service and lasts between eight and 12 weeks.

Boot Camp Breakdown

Basic Combat Training

Marine Corps
Recruit Training

Air Force
Basic Military Training

Coast Guard
Recruit Training


10 weeks


12 weeks


7-9 weeks


8.5 weeks


8 weeks


Fort Benning
Columbus, Ga.

Fort Jackson
Columbia, S.C.

Fort Leonard Wood
Waynesville, Mo.

Fort Sill
Lawton, Okla.


Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island
Parris Island, S.C.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego
San Diego, Calif.


Great Lakes Recruit Training Depot
Great Lakes, Ill.


Lackland Air Force Base
San Antonio, Texas


Cape May Coast Guard Training Center
Cape May, N.J.

Physical Fitness Requirement:
  • Timed 2-mile run
  • 2 minutes of sit-ups
  • 2 minutes of push-ups
Physical Fitness Requirement:
  • Timed 3-mile run
  • A pull-up count
  • 2 minutes of abdominal crunches
Physical Fitness Requirement:
  • Timed 1.5-mile run or 500-yard swim
  • 2 minutes of curl-ups
  • 2 minutes of push-ups
  • Sit-and-reach flexibility test
Physical Fitness Requirement:
  • Timed 1.5-mile run
  • 1 minute of push-ups
  • 1 minute of sit-ups
  • Abdominal circumference measurement
Physical Fitness Requirement:
  • Timed 1.5-mile run
  • 1 minute of push-ups
  • 1 minute of sit-ups
  • Sit-and-reach flexibility test
  • 5-minute water tread
  • 5-foot platform jump into a 100-meter swim
More Info:
Boot Camp

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