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What is a Military Boot Camp?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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When a person enlists in any of the United States (US) armed forces, she must go to military boot camp before she becomes an active duty or Reserve member. Military boot camp is a multi-week training session that helps to mentally and physically prepare a person to serve her country. Every branch of the armed forces requires such training, but their programs are not identical.

After enlisting with the recruiter, the next large step a person takes toward becoming an armed forces member is going to military boot camp. Many people are surprised to learn that this training does not prepare a person for her specific job. Military boot camp is commonly referred to as basic training because a person only learns part of what she needs to know. A person will learn to perform her specific work duties in a training school that follows boot camp.

A large part of basic training is learning to take orders and developing a certain standard of discipline. This begins before people even arrive on the premises. Before leaving home, the military begins to exercise control by limiting the possessions people can bring. Throughout military boot camp, people will be subject to property searches and observations of cleanliness and orderliness.

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Each branch of the armed forces, such as the Coast Guard and Marines, has its own military boot camp facilities. Members of different branches are not mixed together to receive training. One reason for this is because the training that they receive is not identical.

Physical training is required in every military boot camp. The manner in which that training is executed and the abilities that are expected to be achieved, however, can vary greatly. There are some branches of the armed forces considered softer than others. This stems, in part, from the fact that physical expectations are less stringent.

Regardless of the branch of the armed forces a person enlists in, there are some activities she can expect to encounter. Marching and standing are always important, and though these things may sound basic, they are thoroughly taught and practiced in basic training. Running and push-ups are traditional exercises that members of the armed forces use for fitness and discipline. Other common physical activities include swimming, climbing, and obstacle courses.

Military boot camp also includes a great deal of classroom training, which is where people are taught to think like soldiers. There is a set of principles known as the Core Values, which will be taught. People will be taught about structure of the military and the importance of a given branch. They will also learn about rank and chain of command.

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