By Mr. Robert Timmons (IMCOM)January 12, 2018
Trainees won't earn the right to be called Soldiers until after they are "forged" into shape during an extensive field training exercise. They also won't wear the Army name tape, a patch, a beret, or even rank until they prove their mettle.
These are just some changes are coming soon to Basic Combat Training thanks to recommendations made at workshops held on Fort Jackson aimed at improving the program of instruction for basic training.
Fort Jackson and Army Training Center commander, Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, announced Jan. 4 "every proposal except a few" to improve BCT and update the POI were approved by TRADOC and the Army.
He said the process began in the fall of 2016 when Fort Jackson "shaked the tree a little bit to ask the questions on how to improve our foxhole. By this last summer, we were ready to deliver wholesale recommendations" to the basic training enterprise.
Other changes to the program of instruction include improving discipline and esprit de corps by increasing time during the first weeks of training for drill sergeants to instill discipline. The goal is to create a culture where exceeding the standard is the norm.
"You have to enforce the standard for the entire period," Johnson said while talking about introducing weapons discipline during drill and ceremony instruction. "When trainees handle a weapon it is handled correctly, it is handled with discipline. It means they need to be corrected. Every time they are out of tolerance it needs to be addressed.
Basic Combat Training will also focus on individual tasks, a physical fitness program that implements supplemental physical readiness training to help trainees who haven't yet reached the standard, and formalizing foot march plans. The Forge, a capstone exercise of training, alone incorporates roughly 45 miles of road marches.
Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Barnard, the senior enlisted leader, of 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment said he believes the changes will improve training across the board.
"I believe the new changes will do a couple things," he said. It "challenges Soldiers by making them more disciplined and physically fit. This is what the Army wanted as their two top things they asked for in new BCT graduates."
"The new training concept links multiple training paths so Soldiers get multiple looks or opportunities to train on (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) or first aid," he added.
The previous training model was set up in blocks where a trainee would learn how to do one particular task before moving on to the next without touching back to the training, thus allowing for a loss of knowledge. The new program of instruction "links training paths" by reinforcing learning in practical settings throughout the cycle. For instance, a trainee may learn medical tasks early in their training, and be called on to use that knowledge during events like the Forge where their skills will be put the ultimate test.
"Overall this is a great improvement going forward, ultimately making a better trained more agile Soldier for the force," he added.