How Much Do You Know About Military Boot Camp?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

“This is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.” In the Vietnam War movie “Full Metal Jacket,” viewers see that boot camp — also called basic training — is an intense and purposeful part of Army recruit development. What do you really know about United States Armed Forces boot camp?

If war is hell, boot camp is the spark that lights Lucifer’s fire. It’s here that green recruits say farewell to their individuality and learn to embrace a true team spirit. Together, they succeed, and together they fail. New soldiers face extreme scrutiny, embarrassment and sometimes a lot worse. What do you know about the psychological conditioning that’s involved in new soldier acclimatization?

Each phase of basic training is meant to challenge and develop specific attributes in new recruits. Are you familiar with the various phases of boot camp? And do you know how long these phases last? Some new soldiers say that boot camp is a breeze — others suffer in the merciless physical and mental hurdles that these challenges pose.

Drop and give me 20 in this tough boot camp quiz! If you can’t suffer through, maybe it’s because, as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman would say, “You're so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece!”

"Boot camp" is also known as _____.

In the U.S. military, "boot camp" is recruit training, or basic training. It is the intitial round of mental and physical training that turns civilians into soldiers.


What is one of the first — and most — important goals of boot camp?

Basic training mentally conditions recruits to follow orders, and to do without hesitation. This mental conditioning process is often merciless and unforgiving.


As a requirement of basic training, male recruits must shave which parts of their bodies?

There is no individuality in boot camp, so that nice rainbow-colored mohawk? It’s gone. Troops must have their heads shaved so that they look alike. You are now a faceless cog in the machine of war.


In America, basic training is broken into how many parts?

There are two primary segments to basic training in the U.S., including Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. Both are essential to the men and women who make contributions in times of both peace and war.


Which person is in charge of most basic training in America’s military?

They are both loved and loathed by recruits. They are the drill sergeants, and if you cross them in any way, you’ll be running three extra miles with a fully-loaded pack.


How long is basic training?

Basic training is 10 weeks long. Recruits who survive the ordeal are on their way to becoming capable soldiers.


Army recruits must learn everything about the M16A2, which is what?

The M16A2 is the Army’s standard assault rifle. In basic training, recruits must learn this weapon inside and out.


What’s the purpose of "PT"?

Every day of boot camp, recruits take part in PT, or physical training. Because if you aren’t in good shape, you can’t possibly outrun a bloodthirsty Communist in combat.


What happens in the first week of basic training?

The first week of basic training is classroom instruction, in which new recruits get a feel for expectations and procedures. Then, the fun stuff begins.


Basic training is meant to instill "esprit de corps" in new soldiers. What does that mean?

Boot camp is meant to created espirit de corps, a feeling of shared destiny and pride in new soldiers. They learn the value of self-sacrifice and discipline.


True or false, do women have to shave their heads for boot camp?

In America, women don’t have to shave their heads like male recruits. But they do have to wear short hair or keep their hair pinned up.


What happens at "lights-out"?

At the end of each day of boot camp, it’s lights-out, when the lights are turned off and recruits head to bed. They need the rest, because the next day they’ll have to do it all over again.


What is the first week of basic training called?

It makes basic training sound like a tea party — Reception Week is the first week of basic training, in which recruits simply settle into their new routines. After Reception Week, things get much harder, particularly for recruits with little physical conditioning or discipline.


During boot camp, every recruit is assigned a ______.

In boot camp, everyone gets what’s called a battle buddy. It has nothing to do with combat — it’s actually a discplinary concept that ensures no one travels around base alone.


What happens during the Red Phase of basic training?

In the Red Phase, the drill sergeant scrutinizes every bit of the recruit’s behavior. Every lapse in judgment or improper action is punished.


During classroom instruction, recruits learn the Army’s ____ core values.

The U.S. Army uses classroom instructions to each of seven core values, including loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.


What happens during foot drill?

In foot drills, recruits learn to march together. After a lot of painstaking practice, they’ll be able to stomp right into the middle of a battlefield without thinking twice about it ... or something like that.


During basic training, some soldiers are assigned rubber ducks, which are what?

Before they get real guns, some soldiers receive "rubber ducks," which are fake rifles with the same approximate weight and heft of a real rifle.


Recruits must address drill sergeants by what title?

In the Army, drill sergeants should be referred to as "Drill Sergeant". Forget this important bit of discipline and you’ll be doing countless push-ups.


What’s the purpose of "field stripping"?

“Field stripping" refers to disassembling a weapon, cleaning it, and then putting it back together. If you can’t field strip your rifle, you should probably stay off the battlefield.


In the second week of basic training, recruits start unarmed combat training, which is better known as _____.

Unarmed combat training is hand-to-hand combat. This is where recruits begin learning to kill.


Which phase of training is the hardest?

The Blue Phase of basic training is the physical endurance phase. Each recruit must pass a standardized fitness test or suffer through retraining sessions.


What happens during an Entry Level Separation?

An Entry Level Separation, or ELS, is when a recruit can’t or won’t perform required duties in boot camp. An ELS happens only in extreme circumstances.


In the White Phase, recruits finally get a chance to _____.

After weeks of waiting, in the White Phase recruits get to fire their rifles. In most cases, this is an M16 or M4 rifle.


What do recruits do at the "confidence tower"?

In the Red Phase, recruits learn to rappel down the confidence tower. Those who fall from the tower are unceremoniously buried in unmarked graves, and we probably made that part up.


In tough field training exercises, there is no access to a dining hall, so troops eat _____.

There’s no chow hall during some of the toughest parts of boot camp. Troops eat MREs, or meals-ready-to, eat instead.


True or false, during gas mask drills, are recruits required to remove their gas masks?

Soldiers don’t just learn how to wear gas masks — they have to take them off and then withstand the effects of the gas. It’s yet another way recruits are toughened for war.


During basic training, soldiers may receive an MOS, which is what?

The MOS is a military occupational specialty. Every soldier has different strengths, and the MOS ideally will match those strengths.


In boot camp, recruits learn Combat Life Saver skills, which is _____.

CLS, or Combat Life Saver, is a set of first aid skills that every soldier must master. CLS skills teach recruits to stop bleeding and keep their comrades alive so that they can die another day. Possibly tomorrow. You just never know, you know?


What happens after soldiers complete basic training?

Once basic training is over, graduates begin AIT, or Advanced Individual Training. Then they begin in earnest their mission as future elected office candidates.


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