Picture this. A young woman in tears staring at her computer screen, desperately searching for any information about what perils lay ahead for her knight in shining armor during basic training. She scours all the search results but after hours of frustration, she finally admits defeat. This was me in 2012 when Zach was going through infantry basic training.
I remember searching the web for any and all information I could find about what he’d be doing and coming up empty-handed. Ah, what I wouldn’t have given for a post like this to help me through those days. So new-military-girlfriend me, this one’s for you.
What is Infantry Basic Training?
At this point, I hope you already know what the infantry does. Just in case though, in a nutshell, the infantry is the main combat force of the US Army. They are responsible for land combat and are trained in everything from land navigation and weapons marksmanship to reconnaissance and security. They are quite literally known as the backbone of the Army.
Infantry basic training is the 13-week course that will transform your spouse or significant other from a civilian into an infantryman. (There have been female graduates of infantry basic training however currently, the infantry is not fully integrated.) Infantry Basic Training, unlike some other basic training courses, isn’t separated into two. Instead, it combines ‘basic’ training and the more specialized job training called AIT into one course commonly referred to as OSUT.
Infantry Basic Training takes place in Fort Benning, Georgia and is divided into five phases.
aka when recruits step off the bus and are welcomed by their drill sergeants. I’ve heard the severity of shark attack has lessened in recent years but suffice it to say, that the point of the exercise is to start the discipline process and get recruits used to the idea of following orders.
the first 72 hours of basic. This is when all of the recruit’s paperwork gets processed and usually involves a ton of shots as well as the receipt of all individual issued gear.
Phase One (Red Phase)
Activities like the team development course, the obstacle course, and the confidence course. Phase 1 is designed to instill a sense of teamwork and confidence in each other.
Phase Two (White Phase)
Phase Two is all about marksmanship. Every infantryman is a rifleman so this phase is centered around the M4. Recruits learn the ins and outs of their weapon including proper procedure and weapons maintenance. This phase culminates with the rifle qualification where each recruit fires at various targets in various positions. The Expert Marksmanship badge can be earned by shooting 36 out of the 40 targets.
Phase Three (Blue Phase)
This phase covers many things including first aid, heavy weapons training, and fire team training. An emphasis is placed on team building and individual proficiency.
Because Infantry Basic Training combines Basic and AIT, recruits get a weekend between phases as a Family Weekend. While your recruit will still have a strict schedule to adhere too, this is the perfect time to visit with him. For Zach and I, I picked him up on Saturday morning and brought him back Sunday afternoon. Your recruit’s company commander will send out a letter with the specific dates and guidelines for Family Weekend and you MUST follow them to the letter. Take heart, Family Weekend means you’re almost done!
Phases Four & Five (Black + Gold Phases)
aka all the training that truly makes your recruit an infantryman. During these phases, your recruit will most likely be testing their skills at land navigation, urban combat and room clearing, a ruck march, and most importantly the field training exercise. FTX combines all the knowledge they’ve learned and is essential in passing infantry basic training.
Turning Blue Ceremony
Yay! You’re almost there! Again the commander will send out a letter with specifics but the Turning Blue Ceremony is usually the day before Graduation Day and is pretty pivotal to your soldier’s career. What’s the Turning Blue Ceremony, you ask? It’s the day when your recruit receives the blue cord that designates them as an infantryman. The best part? Your soldier can choose someone to place the blue cord on their right shoulder. Zach’s dad did this for him and it was such a touching moment. Definitely a time for all the selfies!
aka the Best Day Ever!! Graduation Day was my first real introduction to military life and it did not disappoint. Along with the normal fanfare of a big military event (speeches, a band, etc), all of the newly minted infantrymen will march in formation and finally graduate. Congratulations, you made it!
I vividly remember how hard it was for me to say goodbye to Zach when he left for basic training. At the time, it felt like the end of the world to have him gone for four months. Take heart, my friend. It goes by faster than you’d think!
Question for my fellow milsos. How many of you have been there from the start of your spouse’s military career? Were you able to attend your service member’s basic training graduation? It’s always fun to learn more about how other MOS’s work! How did your service member’s basic training experience compare to infantry basic training?