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The Real BCT Experience
When I was preparing to leave my pregnant wife for The US Army's Basic Combat Training, I spent untold time on the internet looking for someone's real experience at basic. It seemed like all I could find was something from a recruiter, something from the Army, or something from someone who quit or was kicked out. Needless to say, I never felt like I got a true representation of what I should actually expect. I've now been in for 2 years, and have a deployment to Afghanistan under my belt, so here are a few short snippets and some links so that maybe, you will feel a little more ready than I did.
The first thing you need to expect is reception. Don't expect sleep, be prepared for long days of paper work, and learn the Soldier's Creed and Army Song . Travel lightly, don't bring your entire life. You will have to carry it.
After Reception, you'll get "picked up" and go to your Basic Company / Battery. That is when you can expect "Shark Attack" that you've seen in the movies. Be prepared to do lots of push-ups, flutter kicks, mountain climbers, squats and other exercises that you've likely never heard of.
Every day for the next few weeks, expect to do PT. Work hard at it. Push yourself. Even if it is easy for you, make yourself look even better by helping those who are struggling. Expect others to be better than you, but expect others to struggle more than you.
Expect to do the same thing over and over and over. Repetition breeds habit. You'll be told and taught the same thing multiple times. Then you will do the same thing multiple times. Even after you have perfected the "ready-up", you'll continue to do it.
Basic Rifle Marksmanship
Expect to learn how to shoot a rifle. You may have grown up shooting, or never have fired a weapon in your life. Either way, you'll be taught how to shoot the Army way. Your Drill Sergeants will do whatever they can to make sure you qualify.
Expect to learn how to deal with people you don't like, and how to deal with people who don't like you. It would be impossible to find 35-40 people who can get along with each other after 10 weeks of strenuous training. You'll see fights, you'll get angry, and you'll have other's get angry at you. Keep your cool. You are there to get trained and get graduated. Fighting or personal vendettas will only delay your training and possibly your graduation.
Expect to change. You will learn a lot about yourself. You will see that your body is stronger than your mind, and you will become a much more confident person. If you are married or have children, expect to have to readjust. Your loved ones may not recognize the person that comes back. Remember, you are now a soldier, they are still civilians. You can make it work, as long as you try.
Expect to graduate. You may have graduated before. High School, College, trade school, other types of graduation hold no comparison to graduating from Basic Combat Training. It was 10 of the hardest weeks you've ever put yourself through. Maybe you have more difficult trainings in your future, but to this point, it was more difficult than anything you've experienced. Be proud of yourself. Take the time to realize what you've accomplished. Take the time to thank the people who helped you along the way.
Finally, expect to go to AIT. No one told me that I would go directly to AIT without the opportunity to see my wife give birth to my son. However, your soldierization is not complete until you are done with AIT (or at least the first few weeks of AIT if you have a long AIT).
There are a lot of details I've left out, but why give it all away? As I said, this is just so you would know what to expect. Click the links, do research, and get prepared. The more work you do now, the easier your life will be when you leave.