Basic Training: The Places You'll Go

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Drill sergeants welcome new soldier to Fort Leonard Wood
Drill sergeants with 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, welcome a new soldier to Fort Leonard Wood on training day zero as part of the End Strength Increase in 2017. (Stephen Standifird/Fort Leonard Wood public affairs)

Finally, at the airport, they'll call your flight, and it's time to board the plane. If you've made it to this point, give yourself a pat on the back. Unless your aircraft gets hijacked, or over-run with rabid squirrels, you've got it made. Next stop -- military basic training.

The military branches have several basic training locations. Your destination depends on several factors, including the branch you joined, the location of your MEPS, your sex and even what military job you're going to do.

Army Basic Combat Training Locations

The Army has five basic training locations. In many cases, where you go depends on what your Army job is going to be. For many military jobs, the Army has a program called OSUT, or one-station unit training, which combines basic training and Army job school all into one course. The locations are: Fort Jackson: Columbus, South Carolina; Fort Knox: Louisville, Kentucky (armor OSUT); Fort Leonard Wood: Waynesville, Missouri (combat engineers, military police and chemical warfare OSUT); Fort Sill: Lawton, Oklahoma; and Fort Benning: Columbus, Georgia (infantry OSUT)

Air Force Basic Training Locations

The Air Force has only one basic training location: Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

Navy Basic Training Locations

Like the Air Force, the Navy has only one location for boot camp: The Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Marine Corps Basic Training Locations

Two locations turn men into Marines:

  • The Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina
  • The Recruit Training Depot at San Diego

Where you go depends largely upon where you enlist. Those who enlist west of the Mississippi will likely go through boot camp in San Diego, while those in the east will attend at Parris Island. There is only one boot camp to turn women into Marines -- Parris Island.

Coast Guard Basic Training Locations

Like the Air Force and the Navy, the Coast Guard has only one location for enlisted boot camp: Cape May, New Jersey.

Figuring Out How Long You'll Be at Basic Training

Not all military basic trainings are created equally, and how long you'll have drill instructors yelling at you depends on your service branch:

  • Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) lasts nine weeks. This length of time doesn't count time spent in reception, nor does it count the time spent for job training if you attend an OSUT unit, which combines basic training and job training into one combined course.
  • Air Force basic training is eight weeks, plus one week of in-processing, called zero week. Until recently, Air Force basic training was only six weeks, the shortest basic training of any of the military branches.
  • Navy basic training is seven weeks, plus one week at the beginning called processing week, which isn't officially part of basic training, but because you still will have drill instructors yelling at you and telling you what to do, it might as well be.
  • The Marine Corps has the longest basic training -- 12 weeks, not including 4 days of in-processing time.
  • Counting the half week you spend in forming (in-processing), you'll spend a total of 7½ weeks in Coast Guard basic training at Cape May, the shortest basic training of all the services.

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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