Basic Training Punishments


You probably won't be court-martialed in basic training. It's also unlikely that you'll be punished under the provisions of Article 15 while in basic training(unless you commit a serious crime, such as stealing).

Because you're still learning in basic training, you're given a break. In most cases, documentation of any punishment is destroyed when you graduate, and nobody will even know it happened, unless you elect to tell them.


Yelling is, by far, the most common corrective action in military basic training. If you perform some bone-head stunt, your training instructor is going to letyou know about it . . . loudly.

Don't discount being yelled at as a punishment. I've seen grown men reduced to a quivering bowl of jelly by a drill instructor's yelling. These military folks are professionals . . . far better at it than your parents ever were. When I was an Air Force First Sergeant, I was given the opportunity to revisit Air Force basic training as a guest. The ranting of the drill instructors scared me, even though they weren't yelling at me, and we First Sergeants are somewhatprofessional yellers ourselves.

Getting Dropped

Getting dropped is a very common punishment in basic training. It simplymeans being ordered to do some sort of physical exercise, usually push-ups.

The Marine Corps takes getting dropped one step farther in basic. In Marine Corps and Coast Guard basic training, you might get quarter-decked. The quarter-deck is a special place in the barracks where you're sent to do an amazing amount of physical exercises, all under the direct supervision andencouragement of a drill instructor.

Technical Stuff: In addition to quarter-decking in Marine Corps basic, there is also pitting. Pitting is incentive training for a large group of recruits, so named for the sandy pits set aside for such events.


Recycling, or getting set back, is by far the most feared punishment in military basic training. Recycling simply means being moved to a different military basic training unit that is in an earlier part of basic training than you are current in, which means you have to repeat training and spend additionaltime in basic.

Basic training instructors will lead you to believe that they have the power to recycle you for pretty much anything, but in actuality recycling is a very controlled administrative action that can be imposed by the only commandingofficer, for very specific reasons.

Remember: You can be recycled without being punished. For example, if you're in week 2 of basic training and you get sick and put in the hospital for two weeks, when you get out, you won't be returned to your basic training unit (who are now in week 4). You'll be recycled to a different basic training unit who is presentlyin week 2 of training.

Getting kicked Out

Getting kicked out of the military while in basic training is not that easy, nor is it a very fast process. Training instructors are taught not to give up, and will try everything possible to turn someone around before recommendingthem for discharge.

Those who do get recommended for discharge often spend weeks, or even months, in a special discharge unit, waiting for their discharge to be processed and approved. During that time, they usually spend the day doing manual labor (cleaning buildings, cutting grass, sweeping sidewalks, and so on).

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From Basic Training for Dummies, copyright © 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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