Army Soldiers from the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) low crawl while negotiating an obstacle course during their first week of Basic Training in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Army Basic Training and Officer Candidate School: What to Expect

Basic training is the first step in preparing you to be a soldier. It starts with basic combat training or Army boot camp. Then comes specialized training in your career field — or you may go to Officer Candidate School to master Army leadership skills.

In basic, you'll learn teamwork and discipline, and how to handle a weapon, rappel and march. The work is physically and mentally demanding. You’ll experience stress and you’ll test your limits. Know what to expect and arrive prepared.

What you need to know: where and how long is Army basic training

The Army has five basic combat training locations:

  • Fort Benning, Georgia
  • Fort Jackson, South Carolina
  • Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
  • Fort Sill, Oklahoma
  • Fort Knox, Kentucky

How your training location is determined:

  • Enlisted member? Your initial training will be followed with more specialized training at the same installation. This will determine your basic training location.
  • For example, infantry and armor specialties complete basic and advanced training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Military police and combat engineers complete both trainings at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
  • Female recruit? Your basic combat training location will be Fort Leonard Wood, Fort Sill or Fort Jackson. These installations have gender-integrated training.
  • Plan to become an officer? You'll complete your basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then you’ll go straight into Officer Candidate School.

The 10-week basic combat training schedule: (It’s the same for the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard):

  • Reception Battalion also called "week zero." Expect paperwork, physical exams, immunizations, haircut, uniforms — and your first physical fitness test.
  • Tip: arrive prepared to pass the physical fitness test.
  • If you don't pass this test, you'll be placed in the fitness training company for additional training. Then you’ll have two chances per week to pass the test.
  • Phase One, Red Phase (weeks one through three). The civilian begins to become the solider. You'll learn:
    • Fundamentals of soldiering
    • Core Army values
    • Army traditions and ethics
    • What it means to be a solider
    • You'll also take the Army physical fitness test.
  • Phase Two, White Phase (weeks four through five). The focus is on:
    • Self-discipline
    • Teamwork
    • Combat skills
    • Night training
    • Hand-to-hand combat and weapons training
    • Basic rifle marksmanship
    • Physical fitness
    • Tip: the best way to make fitness training easier is to work harder.
  • Phase Three, Blue Phase (weeks six through nine). You’ll cover:
    • Additional weapons training and rifle marksmanship
    • Overview of convoy operations
    • Military operations in urban terrain
    • Field training exercises
    • The final step of the Blue Phase: Pass all 212 tasks of the end-of-cycle test.
  • Graduation. Celebrate. You officially graduate from basic combat training. You'll get a day with your family.

Life after Army basic combat training

You’ll take one of two paths: Advanced training or Officer Candidate School, OCS. The length of training will depend on your specialty. For Officer Candidate School, you must be a college graduate with at least a four-year degree.

There are four ways to enter the Army as an officer:

  • Attend Office Candidate School after you have earned your bachelor's degree
  • Attend the United States Military Academy after high school
  • Join the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps
  • Receive a direct commission as a professional in a field such as law, medicine or religion

Army Officer Candidate School

Officer Candidate School is a 12-week program to determine your mental, physical and emotional potential as a leader. There are two phases:

  • Phase One: You'll learn the basic leadership skills and the physical and mental challenges required of a commissioned officer.
  • Phase Two: You'll put your leadership skills to the test with an intense 18-day training mission.

Additional information regarding basic training is available at this Army website.