What is Air Force Basic Training like? From the time a new recruit steps off the bus at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas to graduation day, Air Force Basic Military Training or BMT is designed to challenge new recruits and get them ready to wear Air Force blue.
Air Force Basic Military Training is held at a single location–Lackland–and is known to run from seven weeks to eight and a half weeks depending on health protection conditions and other variables. In general the BMT is broken down on a week-by-week basis from Week Zero to Graduation day.
The Air Force official site lists an eight-week BMT schedule, which we will discuss here but talk to your recruiter about the actual length of BMT based on current DoD or Air Force guidance.
Air Force Basic Military Training Week Zero
Arriving at basic training, new recruits are given a “first week briefing” and lessons on the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which explains their rights and responsibilities in the training environment.
Week Zero recruits were at one time referred to as “rainbows” because of the multicolored civilian clothing worn in the earliest days of in-processing to BMT.
But that does not last long–the earliest days of basic training involve uniform issue, immunizations, military haircuts, the basics of coping with boot camp, etc.
There are also medical procedures–all basic trainees will medically inproccess as part of the Week Zero experience. Other experiences a new recruit will have in Week Zero include:
- Training Group/Commander/Superintendent briefing
- Dorm and drill basics
- Health, morale and welfare
- Initial base exchange (BX) issue
- Initial phone call
Air Force BMT Week One
By now, trainees are settling into the routine of boot camp including physical exercise, marching, and classroom instruction. Week one begins the “bluing” process in earnest with recruits learning the rules for customs and courtesies such as the military salute, wear and maintenance of the Air Force uniform, cultural sensitivity training, and “recruit living area preparation”.
In Week One, trainees are issued their very first DoD ID card, given briefings on the GI Bill, and are given their initial “weapon issue and familiarization”. Week One is also when the first physical fitness assessment happens.
Air Force BMT Week Two
In Week Two, Air Force career options are examined–not all new recruits come to the military with a guaranteed job, and not all Airmen have a guaranteed job they really wanted. Some may be hoping to train into other specialties, others may need a military job specialty to be assigned to them. The career guidance can be helpful for those who still need to make decisions at this stage in the process.
Week Two is also about learning more team building skills, studying Air Force history and organization, and there is more weapons training. In Week Two trainees also have a “living area appraisal and evaluation”.
Air Force BMT Week Three
In Week Three many recruits feel themselves solidly in the rhythm of BMT, especially where the fitness angle is concerned. This is a time for yet another fitness evaluation, more weapons handling and maintenance training, drill training, and “cyber awareness”.
There is also leadership skills development and briefings on subjects ranging from how to deal with media inquiries to awareness of human trafficking issues.
Week Three is also the time when a second military clothing issue is performed. Recruits get a new boot issue in Week Five.
The halfway mark for many in BMT, assuming there is no “recycling” or being sent back to an earlier point in the training schedule to learn Air Force procedures or other BMT lessons properly.
Not all who attend BMT get recycled, but those who do not meet standards during training may be sent back depending on circumstances. This has the effect of prolonging the training experience for recruits who get recycled so it is definitely something to avoid where possible.
Week Four includes more drill and fitness time, but also emphasis on Air Force career progression, quality of life, environmental awareness, sexual assault prevention, and antiterrorism training. There are also scheduled military haircuts in Week Four as well as a briefing on the tradition of Base Liberty.
Studies in the warrior ethos, the Airman’s role in Air Force missions, military skills development, more physical training, drill, plus more weapons training. Week Five places Airmen in classroom environments to learn military law and combat principles. There is also training in how to recover from combat stress and lessons about military codes of conduct. Airmen in Week Five also get another combat boot issue.
Air Force BMT Week Six
Once upon a time, Week Six was also graduation week for airmen until Air Force policy changes required an eight-week training program. In the 21st century, Week Six means classes in computer-based training, pre-deployment issues, “expeditionary skills”, more physical training, and a fitness evaluation.
Week Six is an important one due to the training associated with Air Force Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare training or NBC training. During the NBC portion, Airmen are taught how to put on a protective ensemble that includes a gas mask, hood, overboots, gloves, etc. Recruits are taught how to seal their masks properly and check for leaks. Week Six also involves a written test and an open ranks inspection.
BMT Week Seven
Week Seven, under an un-abbreviated training schedule (an abbreviated training schedule has been implemented in the past when force health protection conditions warrant) includes the usual physical fitness training, drill, and classroom instruction. But this week also includes instruction on “expeditionary Airmen skills” as well as combat arms “training and maintenance”.
Week Seven may also include field training exercises, a deployment line and processing section, as well as training on creating leaders.
In Week Seven there is also a round of equipment turn-in, which some will appreciate as a sign that the end of BMT is getting closer.
Air Force BMT Week Eight
The week everyone’s been waiting for. The final week of Air Force Basic Training includes physical training, an “Airman’s Run” and preparation for soon-to-be graduates to attend Technical School. Week Eight features one last round of military haircuts, plus issuing orders for travel and tech school.
Basic Training in the Air Force traditionally ends with a graduation ceremony and a town pass for graduates. At this stage, training is beginning to wind down but all Airmen are still considered Basic Trainees and subject to all the rules and requirements in that training environment until they reach the next phase of training or their first duty station.