Infantry: More Basic For Basics

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October 12, 2007: The U.S. Army is extending basic training from nine to ten weeks. This will be done as an experiment, beginning next month and ending in March. Then the troops who went through the ten week basic will be observed over the next year to see if the extra week made much of a difference. The additional week is just being used to enable trainees to learn their basic military skills better. Commanders and NCOs in combat zones have been complaining that many newly recruited combat support troops reach them not-quite-ready for combat. Some blame this on lowered recruiting standards. Until recently, less than ten percent of army recruits had been high school dropouts. But in the last decade, that has grown to 24 percent. Same thing with those receiving "moral waivers" (for having a police record). That has gone from 4.6 percent four years ago, to 6.2 percent. There is also a growing trend for new recruits (and young people in general) not being in good physical shape (fat and weak). An extra week in basic would help out there as well. And many combat veterans believe that the combat support troops, especially those running convoys, or otherwise outside the wire (working outside base camps) just have not had sufficient training in combat basics.

Once soldiers graduate from basic, they go on to specialized training, which can last from a few weeks, to a year, depending on their. If they are going to Iraq or Afghanistan, they usually get some combat training before they leave the United States, or (usually in Kuwait) before they arrive in bandit country.

The additional basic training week is, in theory, to instill basic combat skills early on. These skills are expanded using an additional week or so of additional combat training for some combat support troops before they hit the combat zone. The additional training is also meant to improve the discipline and general military effectiveness of new troops. During the 1990s, basic training was watered down quite a bit, and that resulted in new recruits coming into their first units still acting a lot like civilians. The army has been trying to rectify that for the last six years.

 


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