Air Force Boot Camp

Location & Condition –

For enlisted airmen, the Air Force’s Basic Military Training School (BMTS) is conducted at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.  I attended basic training over twelve years ago, and I’ve heard from younger airmen that things have changed.  It’s not as easy as it used to be!  One of the biggest changes is the combat aspect of training.  It’s gotten more challenging and takes a greater portion of basic training’s eight and-a-half weeks.  To learn more about the current combat training that recruits will endure, check out for the latest about Air Force boot camp .

Day One –

“Zero Week” is all about a fresh start.  You’ll get your hair cut, you’ll be issued multiple uniforms, you’ll get various immunizations, and you’ll get everything else you need to survive the next eight and-a-half weeks of the rest of your life.  During each successive week you will learn more and more, train more and more, and be more and more prepared to earn the title “Airman” and to defend your nation.

Physical –

Basic training includes a lot of physical training (PT).  Before long, you’ll be running in your dreams.  The Air Force has recently increased and toughened physical fitness standards not only for recruits but also for all airmen who currently serve, enlisted and commissioned officers.  During basic training, you will be required to meet the standards for physical fitness, including running, push-ups, sit-ups, and more.  During your career, you’ll be required to maintain those standards.  All airmen are tested twice a year.  The test includes a one and-a-half mile run, one minute of push-ups, one-minute of sit-ups, an abdominal circumference measurement, and a weight measurement.  In today’s Air Fore, all airmen must be fit to fight!  Test yourself on these fitness measurements before you go to boot camp to have a good idea of your personal fitness.

Mental –  

Basic training includes mental tests, not just physical ones.  Do you have the will to move forward in your training?  Can you progress to the next week and graduate?  One key thing to remember during your training is that everything that you are subjected too is for a reason.  Everything.  From the moment you step foot off of the bus in front of your barracks, to the moment you graduate BTMS, every minute aspect has a greater purpose behind it.  That purpose may not be evident at the moment, and it may not be for you to know why you’re doing what you’re being told to do, but the Air Force doesn’t just do it to make your life difficult.  You might figure out why things are the way they are later on in your career.  Knowing this will make boot camp life easier, the next key is to play along.  Listen to what your training instructors (TIs) tell you, and do it to the best of your ability.  You can and will get through BMTS successfully if you pay attention and play along.

Preparation –  

One thing you can do to prepare for BTMS is probably obvious…prepare to move!  Being able to run and conduct calisthenics before you arrive at Lackland AFB will make PT easier for you, than for those who aren’t accustomed to rigorous exercise.  Learning the Air Force’s rank structure from Airman Basic to a 4 Star General is something you can do in advance.  This will help you know who ranks where in the military.  Long before you arrive for your first day of basic training, make sure you have all of your personal affairs in order.  Have a checking account for your basic pay before you go to boot camp.  You don’t want to be worried about issues at home that you won’t have the time and resources to handle during basic training.  Financial obligations, personal relationships, and anything else that you can think of can be an unnecessary, debilitating distraction if not taken care of before you leave home for basic training.

Training –

Basic training will encompass a vast amount of physical & mental challenges and learning.  Keep your mind open, be an active participant and leader, don’t prejudge or make assumptions (ask questions), and accept it as a personal challenge to prepare yourself for a professional career and for an improved, enriched life.

Lastly – and have vast amounts of information about your United States Air Force.  The more you know before go speak to any recruiter for the first time, the better!  Educate/inform yourself beforehand.  Talk to enlisted and commissioned airmen about their experiences.  Read about the Air Force’s history.  Visit an Air Force base if you can.   Go see an air show.  Do all you can to educate yourself about your possible future career, so that you can knock on your recruiter’s door with a solid background of information.  There’s a lot they won’t tell you or that they don’t know.  If you have further questions submit them to this web site and we will get back to you in a quick and knowledgable fassion.

If you are a Civil Air Patrol Cadet or an Eagle Scout, as your CAP or BSA leadership or your recruiter about the benefits you’ll receive when you enlist in the Air Force.  Cadets and Scouts who attain a certain rank or level can advance in rank (above your peers) in the Air Force upon graduating from BMTS or technical school.  Again, you’ll find a lot of information on-line at  “Air power!”

Information contributed bySSgt Frank D’Angelo, USAF, 2 Oct 11