Fort Leonard Wood

Hi, my name is Kris, I’m a retired Sergeant Major in the United States Army. Welcome to your first weekly briefing. Over the next ten weeks I’ll be providing you with weekly updates on what your recruit is doing throughout their time in basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood. The road to joining the Army is long and hard, but if successful, your trainee will have the honor of graduating as a United States Soldier.

Week One Intel

Referred to as Reception Week, week one begins with the trainees meeting the drill sergeants (DS), being divided into their platoons, then getting introduced to Army customs and their first taste of exercises and drill. Your recruit’s DS’s will be responsible for their training throughout Basic Combat Training (BCT). This is not your traditional first impression handshake; it’s an intense time for the trainees, as the DS gathers them from Reception Battalion and either transports or marches them to their company area.

Upon arrival at the company area, trainees are divided into platoons, and subjected to exercises and drills such as the bag drill or shakedown. This is where all the trainees will have to: (1) line up their bags a certain way to see if they can follow instructions; (2) empty them, once commanded to do so; (3) sit through a DS-led inspection for any contraband; and (4) repack their bags simultaneously within a set time limit.

Trainees are subject to total control, and every action is monitored and constantly corrected by their DS. As a result, trainees are often subjected to group corrective action, even for minor infractions. This is so that all trainees develop an acute attention to detail, and foster a sense of common responsibility among the unit. It’s because of this that trainees will begin learning the Army’s customs and courtesies (C&C) starting from the first day they arrive at BCT.

Customs, which are considered common law in the Army, include never offering excuses, never criticizing the Army or one of its leaders in public, not jumping the chain of command, and never appearing in uniform while under the influence of alcohol, amongst others. Courtesies, on the other hand, are vital to maintain discipline and mutual respect amongst service members, and mean always acting with good manners and with politeness when dealing with others. Some common courtesies include standing at attention when talking to an officer of superior rank until ordered otherwise, walking on the left of an officer or NCO of superior rank, and entering and exiting a vehicle in order of rank.

Week One marks the beginning of the first of three phases of BCT, or the Red Phase. Your trainee will work to complete a set of necessary tasks and exercises in order to proceed to the next phase. Please note that there may be slight variations in each phase’s weekly schedule between companies.

Trainees are subject to total control, and every action is monitored and constantly corrected by their DS. As a result, trainees are often subjected to group corrective action, even for minor infractions. This is so that all trainees develop an acute attention to detail, and foster a sense of common responsibility among the unit.

Drill and ceremonies (DC), sometimes referred to as “D&C” training, begins during the first week of basic training. DC includes methods of instructing individual and unit drill, teaching techniques, manual of arms for weapons, and various other aspects of basic drill instruction. Military history reveals that armies throughout the world have participated in some form of drill.

The primary value of drill is to prepare troops for battle. For the most part, the drill procedures practiced are identical to the tactical maneuvers employed on the battlefield. Drill enables commanders to quickly move their forces from one point to another, mass their forces into a battle formation that affords maximum firepower, and maneuver those forces as the situation develops. For DC and many other training exercises, trainees are sometimes issued fake rifles also known as rubber ducks.

At BCT, there is a lot to learn in a short period of time: new rules, regulations, and processes involved in being in the Army. Classroom instructions are given on the Army Values, heritage, command structure and leadership, and other subjects that involve day-to-day personal life in the Army. They will also learn how to properly prepare and wear their daily and dress uniforms.

Both the Army Values and the Warrior Ethos must be memorized by the end of the first week of BCT. Trainees can remember the Army Values – Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage – by using the acronym LDRSHIP. They’ll have to be a bit more creative when it comes time to learn the Warrior Ethos, which states:

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Before the end of the week, your trainee will also begin working on their physical fitness and other activities to make them field-ready. They’ll start with their first physical fitness assessment, and will start the Army Combatives Program, or hand-to-hand combat training, which enhances unit combat readiness by building personal courage, confidence, and resiliency as well as situational responsiveness to close quarters threats in the operational environment.

Towards the end of the week, your trainee will also go through TCCC, or Tactical Combat Casualty Care, which goes over first aid practices for battlefield injuries like combat wounds.

In your Letter to your trainee this week, ask them how they did in their first drill procedure practice, and see if they’ve made any friends in their battalion. Consider selecting the Daily Drive as a letter add-on, this way your recruit will receive daily mail to encourage them throughout their journey.  This way your recruit will receive daily mail to encourage them throughout their journey.  

I’ll be back shortly with more information about your recruit’s week 2 boot camp update. Remember, turn on your Sandboxx app notifications so you don’t miss it! In the meantime, make sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for information about mailroom closures, giveaways, letter inspiration, and more. 

Hooah,

Retired Sgt. Maj. Kris Broadus