Army Basic Training and Officer Candidate School: What to Expect
Basic training is the first step in preparing you to be a soldier. It starts with basic combat training or Army boot camp. Then comes specialized training in your career field — or you may go to Officer Candidate School to master Army leadership skills.
In basic, you'll learn teamwork and discipline, and how to handle a weapon, rappel and march. The work is physically and mentally demanding. You’ll experience stress and you’ll test your limits. Know what to expect and arrive prepared.
What you need to know: where and how long is Army basic training
The Army has five basic combat training locations:
- Fort Benning, Georgia
- Fort Jackson, South Carolina
- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
- Fort Sill, Oklahoma
- Fort Knox, Kentucky
How your training location is determined:
- Enlisted member? Your initial training will be followed with more specialized training at the same installation. This will determine your basic training location.
- For example, infantry and armor specialties complete basic and advanced training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Military police and combat engineers complete both trainings at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
- Female recruit? Your basic combat training location will be Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sill or Fort Jackson. These installations have gender-integrated training.
- Plan to become an officer? You'll complete your basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then you’ll go straight into Officer Candidate School.
The 10-week basic combat training schedule: (It’s the same for the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard):
- Reception Battalion also called "week zero." Expect paperwork, physical exams, immunizations, haircut, uniforms — and your first physical fitness test.
- Tip: arrive prepared to pass the physical fitness test.
- If you don't pass this test, you'll be placed in the fitness training company for additional training. Then you’ll have two chances per week to pass the test.
- Phase One, Red Phase (weeks one through three). The civilian begins to become the solider. You'll learn:
- Fundamentals of soldiering
- Core Army values
- Army traditions and ethics
- What it means to be a solider
- You'll also take the Army physical fitness test.
- Phase Two, White Phase (weeks four through five). The focus is on:
- Combat skills
- Night training
- Hand-to-hand combat and weapons training
- Basic rifle marksmanship
- Physical fitness
- Tip: the best way to make fitness training easier is to work harder.
- Phase Three, Blue Phase (weeks six through nine). You’ll cover:
- Additional weapons training and rifle marksmanship
- Overview of convoy operations
- Military operations in urban terrain
- Field training exercises
- The final step of the Blue Phase: Pass all 212 tasks of the end-of-cycle test.
- Graduation. Celebrate. You officially graduate from basic combat training. You'll get a day with your family.
Life after Army basic combat training
You’ll take one of two paths: Advanced training or Officer Candidate School, OCS. The length of training will depend on your specialty. For Officer Candidate School, you must be a college graduate with at least a four-year degree.
There are four ways to enter the Army as an officer:
- Attend Office Candidate School after you have earned your bachelor's degree
- Attend the United States Military Academy after high school
- Join the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps
- Receive a direct commission as a professional in a field such as law, medicine or religion
Army Officer Candidate School
Officer Candidate School is a 12-week program to determine your mental, physical and emotional potential as a leader. There are two phases:
- Phase One: You'll learn the basic leadership skills and the physical and mental challenges required of a commissioned officer.
- Phase Two: You'll put your leadership skills to the test with an intense 18-day training mission.
Additional information regarding basic training is available at this Army website.