By John Harlow, TRADOC News ServiceOctober 11, 2007
FORT MONROE, Va. (TRADOC News Service, Oct. 11, 2007) - In early November, Basic Combat Training will expand from nine to 10 weeks at all five Army BCT sites, Fort Jackson, S.C., Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Benning, Ga.
"We're going to do 10 weeks of basic training, starting on the November second," said Gen. William S. Wallace, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. "It will be a pilot during this fiscal year. We're going to do it for the first third of the year. The last 10 week course will be complete somewhere around the twenty-first of March, and then we'll go back to our normal nine-week basic training for the rest of the fiscal year."
A reason for conducting a pilot program is to see what effect expanding BCT by a week has on Advanced Individual Training.
"We're doing it as a pilot to make sure we understand the second and third-order of effects of doing 10 weeks of basic training," said Gen. Wallace. "We anticipate a surge in our training population during the second half of the fiscal year which we couldn't get around in terms of scheduling," he added.
The expansion doesn't to add more tasks to be trained during BCT.
"We are not going to add tasks and I have been very specific -- we are not going to add any tasks," said Gen. Wallace. "What we're going to add is time, and give that time to the drill sergeant so that he can ensure that the individuals have mastered those tasks that they need to master, before they go on to AIT. That is the sole purpose. Over my dead body will we add any tasks to basic training."
As in all of BCT, Drill Sergeants will play a key role in the tenth week.
"We want to make sure we have enough time to review and retrain the things that are required of the Soldiers by the units in the field," said TRADOC Command Sgt. Major John Sparks. "For instance, a Soldier might learn one of the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills in week two or three. By extending BCT, it gives us the opportunity to review those type of skills and retrain and retest them to ensure that the Soldier, before he departs that BCT unit and heads to AIT, or if it is a one-station unit training back out to the field, that they have the kinds of skills necessary to assimilate into his unit."
In the nine-week BCT the Army currently conducts, Soldiers learn 40 Warrior Tasks and go through 11 Battle Drills. With a ten-week BCT, Soldiers will be able to refresh on what they learned and also get an extra week of physical fitness training.
"We do need to add a little bit of extra time and give it to the drill sergeant," said Gen. Wallace. "In my judgment, it will provide to the AIT commander a better physically fit, more mature, more disciplined Soldier who understands the tasks to master better than he does right now."