Fort Jackson Basic Training: What You Need to Know

Fort Jackson serves as Army's main training center
Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, is the Army's main training center for Basic Combat Training. (Andrew McIntyre/Fort Jackson public affairs)

​So you've gotten orders to report to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for Army basic training.

Welcome to the largest TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) post in the entire Army!

Basic combat training, often referred to as just basic or BCT, is the introduction those wanting to serve as soldiers receive as they enter the Army. It is life-changing and something that you always will remember and look back on.

Here at Fort Jackson, you'll soon come to learn the phrase: "Victory Starts Here -- Right Here!"

Where is Fort Jackson Basic Training?

Fort Jackson is in Columbia, South Carolina, and is the U.S. Army 's main training center for Basic Combat Training.

Our drill sergeants train 50% of the Army's Basic Combat Training trainees, and at least 60% of all females enter the Army every year. Fort Jackson makes sure new soldiers are well-trained, disciplined, motivated and physically fit warriors who can live as prime examples of the Army's core values. You will need to get used to these values, too, and start memorizing them: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. Just use the acronym LDRSHIP (leadership) to help you remember!

Basic Combat Training recruits at Fort Jackson, South Carolina stand in formation before dawn and await the day's tasks.

What Units Are at Fort Jackson?

Fort Jackson's main mission is training in excess of 48,000 basic training trainees and 12,000 additional advanced training trainees and soldiers every year.

It's time to get excited about all the amazing things you're going to learn at Fort Jackson basic training. Remember, it won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

How Long Is Army Basic Training?

Basic training at Fort Jackson takes 10 weeks to complete. Unlike high school or college, where you may have been in class and studying around six hours a day, the Army trains for about 12-14 hours a day, six days a week.

You'll come to love Sundays, unless you've managed to "earn" some extra-duty time during the week. There isn't a whole lot of sitting in classrooms, either.

While we can't reveal too many secrets (because where would the fun be in that?), we can give you an idea of what happens in BCT.

Week 0: Zero Week

You are a brand-new trainee in a new, kind of scary environment. It might even be your first time away from home. Zero week is called reception, where all trainees complete administrative actions required to become a part of the Army.

Simple things such as medical examinations, setting up pay and initial issue of equipment are all part of zero week. You'll get assigned to a company, platoon and infantry battalion (there are 11 battalions) in either the 165th Infantry Brigade or the 193rd Infantry Brigade.

Weeks 1-3: Red Phase

Training officially begins. You'll get to meet the drill sergeants who will be with you for the remainder of basic. This can be a tough time for trainees due to the adjustments, but when you look back later, this phase was easy! Most classroom-type training occurs during your first three weeks, you'll learn about:

  • Ballistics and rifle marksmanship fundamentals
  • Personal financial management
  • Law of land warfare
  • Uniform Code of Military Justice (Military law)
  • Land navigation (using a map and compass)
  • Physical readiness
  • Nutrition
  • Rappelling and navigating rope bridges
  • Drill and ceremony
  • Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) defense
  • Fieldcraft
  • Patrolling

Weeks 4-5: White Phase

This phase is sometimes called the rifleman phase, qualification phase or shoot phase. Your focus now -- how to identify, track, target and effectively engage targets with a rifle. This is called marksmanship.

Since marksmanship training is progressive, it will get harder and harder as you move through the phases. You'll learn a variety of things about firearms, such as:

  1. How to zero a rifle. How to align the rifle sights to hit targets at different distances.
  2. How to engage targets at various distances.
  3. How to engage targets at various distances using three positions: Prone supported (lying down with a brace to hold the weapon steady), prone unsupported (lying down using only your hands to hold the weapon steady) and kneeling unsupported (one knee on the ground, resting the weapon on the other knee). Sounds fun, right?
  4. How to engage targets at various distances with limited time.
  5. How to prioritize and engage multiple simultaneous targets at various distances with limited time
  6. How to engage targets at various distances, with limited and variable amounts of time, with a changing number of simultaneous targets available at any particular time. This one is important, as it defines if you pass a major requirement of basic training: rifle qualification.

Weeks 6-9: Blue Phase

If you make it this far, you're almost there! Now you will be given opportunities to combine all of the skills you have learned in earlier phases of training to complete advanced combat tasks. But there is still a lot to learn:

  • Close combat and use of aiming tools, such as lasers and optics
  • Patrol and attack as a squad
  • Maneuver and engage targets as part of a team
  • Employ "crew-served" and more powerful weapons
  • M240B machine gun
  • AT4 anti-tank rocket launcher
  • M203 40mm grenade launcher
  • Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT -- fighting in a city)
  • Convoy defense
  • Improvised Explosive Device (IED) defeat
  • Long-distance road marching with combat load
  • Forward Operating Base (FOB) operations
  • Control point operations

Week 10: Graduation

The final week of basic training at Fort Jackson is all about you and your family. After completing the final training events, which include a week of field training and a 15km march in 'full battle rattle,' you'll finally get to spend the day with family and friends on Family Day.

The next day, your loved ones can watch you graduate Basic Combat Training and become soldiers in the greatest military institution in the world: the U.S. Army!

The day after graduation, new soldiers head to the next phase of their training -- Advanced Individual Training (AIT) -- to learn their military occupation.

Read the original article on Sandboxx.​

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