BMT Longer for Airmen: Eight-week Course Mirrors AEF Cycle
By Courtesy Artocle, N/A
/ Published November 05, 2008
December 2008 -- Basic military training just got longer, and the man in charge says the next crop of recruits will be the toughest and most combat-ready the Air Force has ever produced.
BMT is two weeks longer than the previous six-week course. The bulk of that extra training time will focus on expeditionary skills - handling, firing and caring for an M16, self-aid and buddy care, chemical warfare, and base defense. Before sewing on their first stripes, airmen will know what it's like to lug around a heavy rifle while wearing chemical gear, sleep on cots in tents and survive on Meals Ready to- Eat - experiences recruits got only a taste of before.
The structure of the new BMT is meant to mirror an Air Expeditionary Force cycle, with pre-deployment, deployment and post deployment phases. The pre-deployment phase is the longest, consuming the first five weeks of the course.
What has not changed is theintroductory week zero and week one, in which airmen in-process, get assigned gear, meet their training instructors, get assigned to training flights and learn basic military skills such as military drill and ceremony, customs and courtesies, and dormitory setup.
The next three weeks - about a week more than before - will be spent primarily developing expeditionary skills and reinforcing the military skills training of the first week.
Week two covers weapons handling and maintenance, integrated base defense, tactical movement, firing positions and force protection. Week three focuses on self-aid and buddy care. In week four, trainees learn to counter threats such as terrorism, biological and chemical weapons and security breaches and go through the BMT obstacle course.
Week five, the final week of the predeployment phase, introduces trainees to the code of conduct, combat arms training and maintenance, fighting with a pugil stick, basic
leadership and mental preparation for combat.
But the centerpiece of the new BMT is the BEAST, a week spent in Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training. For six weeks, the entire class of more than 800 airmen
heads to a new field training site on the Medina Annex at the west end of Lackland.
The BEAST site consists of four camps, each with 10 green canvas tents.
Each camp is a self-contained unit responsible for operating and defending itself.
On the first day of BEAST, a Monday, recruits will refresh the expeditionary skills they already learned. On Tuesday through Friday, they will be in an expeditionary exercise in which they live and work as if they were at a forward operating base in the Middle East. The airmen will sleep in their tents and eat MREs, except for one hot meal a day served at a dining facility. They'll rise each morning at 4:45 a.m., receive an intelligence briefing on the threat environment, and spend the rest of the day responding to threats and contingencies.
The BEAST site includes a 1.5- mile improvised explosive device trail littered with simulated roadside bombs and a mock airstrip. Airmen will learn to spot IEDs and then use the trail in training scenarios.
Week seven will focus on postdeployment training - classroom instruction about the difficulties service members might face when they get home, such as financial management, family issues and alcohol abuse. Trainees also learn about Air Force history and heritage.
The eighth and final week of training is graduation week. The newly minted airmen will be issued their dress blues, take a final written test, practice for the graduation parade and find out what career fields they'll be entering.
This is the first wholesale redesign of the course since the wars began.
The new BMT was designed to be rigorous, but the Air Force does not expect it will lead to a high washout rate. The attrition rate for BMT stands at 8.2 percent.