Lackland Air Force Base

Hi, my name is Chris, I’m a retired Chief Master Sgt. in the United States Air Force. Welcome to your first weekly briefing. Over the next eight weeks, I’ll provide weekly updates on your trainee’s basic training schedule. The road to graduation is long and hard, but if successful, your trainee will have the honor of becoming an Airman or Guardian in the world’s most advanced and powerful Air and Space Forces.

Let me first say “thank you” for supporting your Airman or Guardian in their decision to serve something greater than themselves. Also, let me be the first to welcome you to the Air Force or Space Force family. Watching those we care about and love head off to serve in the military is difficult. There are so many unknowns. Sandboxx is here to help make that journey more manageable and support you where we can. I get it because I am a father of four boys who joined the military.

Zero Week Intel

This update will include “intel” for Zero Week and Week One of training. Basic Military Training (BMT) is 7.5 weeks. “Zero” Week is the “.5,” then there will be seven full weeks of training until graduation in the seventh week. So, this update will be a little longer than the rest. 

With Sandboxx, if you have your recruit’s address, you can begin sending Letters right away. It is recommended that you keep your “tone” positive and encouraging, as your trainee  needs all the motivation they can get from their support network. 

Zero Week is about indoctrinating trainees into the Air and Space Forces’ way of life. Immediately after stepping off the bus on Lackland, your trainee was met by Military Training Instructors (MTI), who greeted them with professionalism but quickly introduced them to a sense of urgency, discipline and accountability.

Learning begins immediately. Your trainee was taught to “fall in” to a formation and stand at the position of attention. While at the position of attention, trainees must stand still and remain silent, with their heads and eyes straight forward. This is the beginning of transforming a group of individuals from all parts of the world into a high-performing team that must operate as a cohesive unit. It is the trainees’ first opportunity to demonstrate pride in what they do. It also allows the MTIs to maintain order and establish authority over the unit. Once control is established, the MTIs can begin giving instructions without the chaos of 50-60 individuals moving around and talking. They were also taught their reporting statement. “Sir/Ma’am, Trainee LAST NAME, reports as ordered.” This is the first thing a trainee will say when spoken to by anyone in a position of authority or when the trainee would like to speak.

During Zero Week, your trainee received several briefings outlining the rules and expectations required of them throughout their military journey. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is a set of rules that governs the profession of arms. Airmen and Guardians are held to a higher standard than that of the environment they may have grown up in. They quickly learn a standard of conduct that shapes our Air and Space Forces into the most powerful military organizations the world has ever known.

Your trainee received their initial uniform issue, which included their Physical Training Uniform (PTU) and the Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP). Males received their first haircut, also known as the “buzz” cut. Females learned how to fix their hair to comply with standards. Females WERE NOT required to cut their hair. Additionally, the trainees went to finance to establish their military pay record and direct deposit, where their paycheck is directly deposited in a bank account they set up before leaving for BMT. They will be paid on the 1st and 15th of every month. Initially, their pay may be delayed due to the time it takes for the “system” to catch up, but all the money they are due will be paid before graduation.

Your trainee’s first PT (Physical Training) assessment was also administered during Zero Week. This assessment establishes their level of conditioning and allows the MTIs to tailor the conditioning exercises to each individual so they can be brought up to the graduation standard safely and effectively.

Our Air and Space Force genuinely cares about our trainees, and every opportunity is taken to ensure the trainees are safe and learning resilience. Trainees attended Health, Morale, and Welfare briefings, received a Chapel Orientation, and had the chance to participate in a church service of their choice on Saturday or Sunday. Most trainees will attend a service because it allows them to leave the training environment and socialize with other trainees. It serves as a “safe space” for them. It’s their only real chance to leave the training environment and “relax.”

Zero Week will be stressful for both you and your trainee. Your trainee will get one phone call to one person to let them know they’ve arrived and to share their mailing address. Please update their address in the Sandboxx app or contact Sandboxx Customer Happiness for assistance so everyone in their support network can start writing them letters.

The formatted address will be:

AB Last Name, First Name, MI

XXX TRS / FLT XXX

1320 Truemper St.

JBSA-Lackland, TX  78236-6407.

“TRS” is an abbreviation for Training Squadron, and “FLT” is an abbreviation for Flight. The “XXX” will be replaced with the numbers your trainee provided. So those two numbers are the most important to listen for and to get correct if you receive the call.

Week One Intel

Some of the most basic requirements for this week will be establishing their military personnel record and their medical and dental records. A physical exam, immunizations, and a dental exam will also be completed to establish their military medical record.

This week, trainees learn how the Air Force Core Values apply to everyday life. The core values are Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.  “What Now Airman” are lessons on integrity. Trainees are presented with scenarios where individuals may have violated standards. Then, the trainees discuss the appropriate action based on our Core Values, the Profession of Arms, and the Standards of Conduct expected of all Airmen and Guardians.

Your trainee will be issued the M-16A2 training rifle they will keep for the remainder of BMT. This weapon does NOT have a firing mechanism to shoot live rounds. Your trainee will receive their first weapons instruction, where they’ll learn to identify the different parts, disassembly and reassembly of the weapon, and weapons cleaning and inspection procedures.

Trainees will spend time in classroom settings learning about the many benefits afforded to them while serving. They’ll understand the differences between the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill and be able to decide which one works best for them based on their career path.

When they aren’t in a classroom, they’ll spend a lot of time on the drill pad, learning drills individually and as a team. Drill is the most basic application of discipline. An MTI gives a command, and the trainees respond with precision and urgency. You’ll see what they’ve learned during the graduation activities in Week 7.

While your trainee will be very busy from before sunrise to after sunset, rest assured they are getting plenty of physical fitness, meals, and even sleep! The physical transformation some of the trainees make in 7.5 weeks is remarkable. You may not recognize your trainee when you see them for the first time. By now, they will have had time to get to know their fellow trainees in the flight and are probably even starting to make friends, but a little encouragement from home and their support network goes a long way. 

In your Letter this week, ask your trainee how their first PT assessment went. You could even quiz them on the Air Force Core Values they learned to help them study. Consider selecting the Daily Drive as a letter add-on, this way your recruit will receive daily mail to encourage them throughout their journey.  

I’ll be back next week with updates for Week 2 of training. In the meantime, be sure to check out the official Facebook page for Air Force basic training, and the Air Force basic training website

See you next week, 

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Chris McCool