Citing a disturbing trend of new soldiers lacking both proper discipline and physical fitness, senior U.S. Army leaders are calling for a tougher and longer basic training program to prepare troops for combat over the next decade.
“We have every reason to get this right, and far fewer reasons not to,” Secretary of the Army Mark Esper said at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium in Alabama on Monday. “That’s why we are considering several initiatives — from a new physical fitness regime to reforming and extending basic training — in order to ensure our young men and women are prepared for the rigors of high-intensity combat.”
While Esper didn’t divulge any details of what an extended Basic Combat Training (BCT) might look like, the Army has already floated the idea of adding two weeks to its 10-week program. A redesigned BCT is expected to be implemented by early summer.
The current BCT involves a three-stage process, the first of which is the “Red Phase.” Comprising the first three weeks of training, it’s where recruits begin to learn drills and ceremonies, the seven “Army Core Values, unarmed combat and first aid. Recruits are also introduced to standard-issue weapons like the M-16 assault rifle and M-4 carbine.
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