What can I Expect from Air Force Boot Camp?

J. Robert Brown

Air Force boot camp is designed to tax patience, test endurance, physically and mentally challenge, and leave a sense of pride and accomplishment. Training begins immediately upon arrival by establishing the crucial imperative of being constantly alert and attentive. Orders come fast and sharp at a volume and intensity meant to instill a sense of urgency. A recruit typically will want to remain mindful of the fact that during a military career he or she will likely be placed in situations that require immediate and decisive action. As such, training for situations is designed to mirror a hostile and panicked environment.

Air Force recruits are usually familiarized with USAF aircraft, such as the U-2, at boot camp and, later, technical school.
Air Force recruits are usually familiarized with USAF aircraft, such as the U-2, at boot camp and, later, technical school.

From the first day of Air Force boot camp, an atmosphere of adversity and stress is created to indoctrinate the recruit in thinking and acting under pressure. Sleep deprivation is a common means of keeping recruits, or airmen, mentally off balance and physically off peak. The first lesson learned typically comes with donning the government-issued uniform and sitting for a haircut. At one moment, you will be uniquely you in your civilian clothes reflecting personal style. In the next moment, you are struggling to recognize the person with whom you were just speaking — everyone is dressed identically and each of you is now a number that has been stripped of identity.

The remainder of Air Force boot camp is spent studying military history, memorizing ranks, practicing protocol, honing skills, developing discipline, passing inspections, and avoiding missteps. Each airman is assigned a duty, ranging from working in the kitchen to scheduling dorm guards. Typically, the role an airman is assigned is accompanied with a level of responsibility proportionate to a level of prestige.

Honor graduate is a goal all airmen can attempt to achieve. It is determined largely by the score earned on the final Air Force boot camp examination and by demonstration of specific levels of physical ability. Since the honor graduate award contributes toward promotion points and provides evidence of the highest level of boot camp achievement, concerted effort typically should be applied throughout the eight-and-a-half week Air Force Boot Camp to earn the honor.

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