The Army Has Resumed Shipping Full Loads of Recruits to Basic

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Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Trainees from Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery Regiment, 434th Field Artillery Brigade, balance on a wooden beam while navigating through an obstacle course during basic combat training (BCT) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on April 23, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, soldiers in BCT spent two weeks in quarantine while being monitored for symptoms as a precaution before continuing their training. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Dustin D. Biven/75th Field Artillery Brigade)

The head of Army training said recently that the service is now shipping the same number of recruits to Basic Combat Training (BCT) as it had been before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"We have been at 100% shipping for the last couple of weeks," Gen. Paul Funk II, head of Army Training and Doctrine Command, told defense reporters Wednesday.

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As COVID-19 began spreading across the country in mid-May, the Army reduced the number of recruits it was shipping to BCT from 1,200 per week to about 600 a week, or about 50%.

Then in early April, the service halted shipments for two weeks to finalize what is known as a two-week controlled monitoring program when recruits first enter BCT. Known as the 2+8 Training Model, new recruits are isolated in groups, or secure bubbles, for two weeks for classroom training to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the training environment. Trainees then join the rest of the population for the remaining eight weeks of standard BCT.

The Army also had to come up with a process for shipping recruits in caravans of sanitized buses from BCT to advanced individual training to keep the training population free of the virus.

Since April, the service has sent 23,440 trainees across all initial training centers, Funk said.

"And we have done that in the COVID-19 environment, focused like a laser beam to make sure that we can keep those security bubbles ... as we moved through the process," he added.

The Army began shipping recruits to BCT at a rate of 75% in mid-May and then resumed 100% shipping in early June.

"The bottom line on our training is we understand how to do this; we have taken on this process and molded our processes and procedures and are providing world-class troopers to our force all over the world," Funk said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

Related: Army Will Stop Taking New Recruits at Basic Training for 2 Weeks

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