Where is Basic Training for Each Military Branch?

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Basic Training is an essential part of joining the military. It teaches recruits the necessary skills to become successful members of the military. Basic training provides the foundation for military service and instills the core values of the military: honor, integrity, and courage.

It also helps new members learn the importance of discipline, teamwork, and respect for authority. Through basic training, recruits gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the military and become valuable assets to the team. Basic training also helps recruits become physically and mentally fit, which is essential for the rigors of military service.

Depending on what branch of the military you want to join, you’re basic training will be at a different location, whether it’s for the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines. Empire Resume will explain where basic training is for each military branch, along with letting you know other essential information about each military branch’s basic training.

Army Basic Training

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Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) is the recruit training program for the Army and the Army Reserve and Army National Guard. Some trainees go to BCT along with advanced individual training in one place.

An Army infantry recruit should expect more intense and physically demanding BCT at Fort Benning, Georgia, in a program that lasts for 22 weeks. The Army has four sites for basic combat training, which include:

  • Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia
  • Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina
  • Fort Leonard Wood near St. Robert, Missouri, and
  • Fort Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma.

Army Basic Combat Training is a 10-week process with one week of reception. The Reception Battalion is the first stop before meeting drill sergeants and starting BCT and is where you’ll do your, military entrance processing or MEPS. This reception usually lasts three to five days, including vaccinations, physical exams, haircuts, and more. In most Reception Battalions, the fitness test is administered before the beginning of basic training. This is because no matter the soldier’s specialty, they are all taught the same basic procedures, so they’re ready to work together.

Navy Basic Training

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The U.S. Navy has only one location for basic training, The Great Lakes Naval Training Center. It’s located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, between Chicago and Milwaukee. Navy basic training is an intense program where candidates undergo physical training and must build emotional endurance. Recruits attend classes and receive physical training that gives them hands-on experience of what it’ll be like in the Navy.

The Recruit Training Command (RTC) unit at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center is where recruits will meet their recruit division commanders (RDC). These commanders may be your instructor for the remainder of your boot camp. The responsibility of these petty officers is to discipline recruits based on Navy standards, usually involving strict vocal instruction.

The Navy recently added mentorship and life skills development to the primary training curriculum and expanded boot camp from eight to 10 weeks. The revamped Navy boot camp began in January 2022 and included a new “Sailor for Life” training module to better prepare Navy recruits for life after basic training.

Air Force Basic Training

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Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio is the only basic training location for the U.S. Air Force. Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) is eight and a half weeks of training that begins with a receiving phase, known as zero weeks, and ends with graduation.

Civilian clothing may only be worn for the first few days at Air Force BMT. Once recruits are issued clothing and equipment, they’re responsible for marking each item for ID and maintaining proper appearance standards.

The final Thursday of BMT involves all recruits participating in a 1.5-mile run known as the “Airman’s Run.” It’s a victory celebration for the challenges overcome during boot camp, and family and friends can attend the events and see their loved ones for the first time since the start of BMT.

The Airman’s Run is followed by a Coin and Retreat Ceremony, where trainees are presented with the Airman’s Coin, which signifies the transition from recruit to earning the right to be called an airman. The Graduation Parade is on Friday, where flights pass in review, take the final oath of enlistment, and are dismissed, marking the end of BMT and the beginning of an airman’s career.

Also, the U.S. Space Force has their basic training in San Antonio along with U.S. Air Force recruits.

Marines Basic Training

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There are two U.S. Marines’ basic training locations: the Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, and the Recruit Training Depot in San Diego. Where Marine recruits go largely depends on where they enlist. Candidates who enlist west of the Mississippi will likely end up in San Diego, while recruits who enlist east of the Mississippi go to Parris Island. There is only one basic training location for female Marines – Parris Island.

The Marine Corps is one of the most selective branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and its basic training may be the most intensive. Because of this, the Marines are considered some of the toughest and most highly skilled military service members. The Marines also have the most extended basic training program in the U.S. military, as recruits undergo a 12-week program, excluding four days of in-processing time.

After basic training, all Marines from the Parris Island depot and San Diego have ten days of leave before they must report to the School of Infantry. Infantry Marines have two months of training at the School of Infantry. To undergo specialized training, other Marines need just two weeks before attending the Military Occupational Specialty school.

Coast Guard Basic Training

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The U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey, is the home of the Coast Guard enlisted corps and is the Coast Guard’s only recruit training center. Coast Guard basic training lasts 53 days (or eight weeks), and the more required knowledge you already have before boot camp, the easier your transition will be. Since it’s the Coast Guard, you’ll need to know how to swim, or you’ll be taught how to in specialized training.

You should also know the basic customs and courtesies of the Coast Guard, including salutes and vessel terminology, the ranks of the Coast Guard, uniform styles, and how to address other personnel, especially your superiors. All these things will be taught to recruits, including how to describe the Coast Guard emblem and the insignia of different ranks on uniforms.

From San Diego to New Jersey

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U.S. military boot camps are located in many places throughout the country, depending on what service branch you enlist to. You could end up in San Diego, New Jersey, South Carolina, or San Antonio, depending on if you want to be a Marine, part of the Coast Guard, or in the Army.

Boot camp is designed to be hard for a reason. Basic training exerts psychological pressure on you to see how much you can cope with. The lack of sleep, strict discipline, yelling, and grueling physical exercises raise stress levels. If you can endure the pain, though, you’ll graduate from recruit to service member – and it’s worth the trouble.

Stay tuned to our military-to-civilian blog for more great military insights, including articles such as Merchant Marine Academy, The Coolest Jobs in the Military, and How Much Money Do You Make Being in the Military?

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has extensive experience writing resumes for professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with a B.A. in Communications from The Ohio State University, an M.S. in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a Ph.D. in Finance.

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2 thoughts on “Where is Basic Training for Each Military Branch?

  1. If you are active-duty members: The basic training location is the same location where active-duty members learn more advanced skills. In addition, aspiring officers will finish off their basic combat training at Fort Moore, Georgia. Then, they can enter the Officer Candidate School.

    • Empire Resume says:

      Hi Lakin,

      You’re correct for the Army, but the Air Force’s Officer Training School is located in Maxwell AFB Alabama. Most servicemembers’ basic training, advanced skills, and officer training are located in different areas for each branch.

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