I graduated from Air Force Basic Military training a about a month ago. If you are finding this post looking for advice I’m here to tell you to relax… stop asking everyone a million questions about their experience. There’s only so much you can prepare for, and after that you just need to stop stressing about it. YOU ARE GOING TO BE FINE =) Enjoy your last few days of freedom and then be ready to be told you’re doing everything wrong. You’re not; they just need to see how you handle pressure. If you can keep a logical head on your shoulders and take some stress thrown at you- you will do great! Anyway… here are a few tips!
1. REPORTING STATEMENT. If your recruiter hasn’t told you this, then they are setting you up for failure. KNOW IT! You will have to say this at the beginning of EVERY single conversation with an MTI (Military Training Instructor). The statement goes like this… “Sir/Ma’am Trainee __(insert last name)__ reports as ordered”.
2. DRILL. MTI’s speak another language- it’s called “drill”. At least it sounds like another language. Forward march = For’ard Harch! One, two, Three, Four = hut, toup, threep, fourp! Flight Halt= fligh’ haul’! About face= about hace! “Cover” does not mean duck down… it means take short choppy steps to get lined up correctly. When marching KEEP YOUR HANDS CUPPED and shoulders back. There’s a lot more… but you’ll learn. It’s not too bad, just pay attention.
3. Make friends with your “Entry Control Monitor”. They pretty much schedule how much sleep you will get for the next 8 weeks. Never complain to them; and stay on their good side. They have the ultimate powerrrrr!
4. Do NOT volunteer for anything. When your MTI’s ask questions like “who likes to workout?”, or “Who is organized?” just keep that hand at your side. They will end up picking you for a job you most likely won’t want. No matter what the question is- just don’t volunteer.
5. Do NOT eat the scrambled eggs. Once I got them, took a few bites, looked down, and saw they were a little green. AHHH so gross! There are plenty of other options that are wayyyy better. Like the breakfast burritos! Overall the food is actually pretty good, bland, but good. Just not the scrambled eggs.
6. When you get yelled at- yes that WILL happen. Stand up straight, look the MTI in the eyes and agree with whatever they are saying. Do not try to defend yourself. You are wrong and that’s it. Just listen and don’t do it again. If they see you are confident and not going to “back talk”, they will walk away sooner. A good response when they ask you why you did something wrong is “no excuse sir/ma’am”. You will still get yelled at for saying that, but it’s a safer option than “I don’t know”. Some common phrases MTI’s like to use to tell you, you are doing something wrong are “that’s weird trainee” “that’s awkward trainee” “what the piss trainee”. Oh and NEVER say “ok” it’s considered rude. DO NOT GET CAUGHT smiling or laughing. It is considered unprofessional and a break in your military bearing. I got yelled at for that a few times.
7. When you run out of time to read and write letters, sneak into a bathroom stall at night and read them. Keep quiet and you have a really good chance of not getting caught. The bathroom stalls are your safe haven at night… nobody can bother you.
8. HAIR LADIES. It’s a pain in the butt! If you think you can pull off a cute bob, cut your hair before you go. You have barely any time to get ready in the morning (10 minutes maybe) and you pretty much have to figure out how to do your hair in the proper bun yourself. No one shows you. If you are not going to cut your hair, bring a MESH BUN with you to basic. They are so much easier than trying to make one out of a sock.
9. Have money in your bank account. You are given a $400 EZPay card when you get there, but unfortunately you WILL spend more than that. Between buying essentials throughout the weeks, and materials for your uniforms, and dry cleaning, and food during base liberty… it goes quick. Then when graduation weekend comes you are going to want to spend even more money. Of course, you get paid while in basic, but that first check does not get put into your account until after about a month of being there. So have all of your finances arranged before you leave.
10. RUN NOW. Unless you are already an avid runner, it will be your downfall on your PT test. It’s the area you can get the most points for on the test, so it should be the area you want to do the best on. Work on getting the best run time you can for a mile and a half running around a track. You won’t be running on any treadmills or trails at BMT. During basic PT run days, do your sprints because that is what will help you shave off time.
Lastly, just relax. If you use common sense you can avoid most yelling situations. listen to directions intently, and when the MTI’s give you two different sets of directions or are very vague; just know it is most likely on purpose and all part of the mind game. They are testing you. It is going to be a frustrating place. You wont feel or act like yourself. You may or may not lose weight (I gained 8 lbs). If losing weight is your goal going in, grow up. There are more important reasons and lessons to take out of basic training.
The most important lesson I took out of basic training besides a new sense of professionalism and cleanliness… was not to give up on people. This is a lesson I will carry with me throughout my Air Force career. The military pushes people. When a hard situation is presented to someone or if someone reacts badly to a situation; the military won’t just send them away or let them give up. They yell and encourage and MAKE that person finish, or figure it out. Like during one of our obstacles on our CLAW mission during BEAST week…. we had to climb over a log about 4 feet off the ground. There was a very short girl in our flight and this log came up to her shoulders. She tried and tried, but could not get over it. The instructor in charge did not say “I like your effort trainee, go ahead and crawl underneath” no. He made her get over that log and would not let her leave until she did. By maybe the 5th try, she did it! This girl was a naturally shy person with little self confidence, and did not like attention drawn to her. When she got over that log, and everyone on the side cheered for her, she had a moment. You could see it on her face, it was accomplishment and confidence. I felt ashamed for thinking in my head… “she is trying so hard, just let her go underneath already.” If the instructor had felt sorry for her, let her get by just on effort, and had not yelled at her to get her butt over the log; she would have never had that breakthrough moment.
To any future trainees reading this I hope it helps; and SPARKS some reassurance in you. You will do great, and if you listen and try hard, you will become a professional with high standards, and a good leader. FLY. FIGHT. WIN!