Surviving Basic Combat Training How Not To Fail

Making it through basic combat training is no easy feat. So how do you finish the course?

Surviving Basic Combat Training How Not To Fail

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Budget Jeopardy

“You’re doing it wrong, man!”

Those are exactly the words I heard as I was forced into a grueling basic combat training (BCT) with 130 other rookies. I was also participating in it for the first time, so the level of care and practice on each other was amazing. One of the hardest things that this particular instructor taught us was how to work effectively with the adversary. Our last drill and procession was a simulated ambush, and on the way to the barracks, he walked us through the course. The key word in all that was “confrontation.”

People get right down to business.

Throughout the day, his guards picked up the scent of the enemy and set off after us. The sound of rifles were amplified, and we had to react quickly, always deciding on the right and proper steps in situations. To make our position that much worse, we were also taught how to survive. As the battle opened up, the large quantities of ammo were loaded with all our precious lives on the line. It was the most exhausting and uncomfortable class that I have ever been a part of, but at the same time, it was extremely humbling and filled with determination. As I was struggling in the jumping and running part of the class, I began to realize the dangers of my situation. It was also a trial run for myself and you, so as not to bring down one of the others along the way.

You’ll never understand basic training unless you go through it.

The keys to survival were very real; each of our names could be right next to each other, and we were creating a new army. He was inviting us to the war in our minds, so even if we did not feel like it, we needed to be prepared. What I remember most about those days is the anticipation of our teammates ahead of us in BCT I, who have been through the same drill more than us. Many of them got together after one of our days to commiserate and laugh about how we missed that T-shirt. Being surrounded by people who had the same struggle and brought up a similar need, that was tremendously comforting and ultimately the reason why they were able to persevere.

This was true throughout basic training, from the hand-to-hand combat drills to the hands-on ability to operate machines. The instructors would pull each student aside to talk about a little commonality they had and to explore why they felt the way they did, a little self-reflection was necessary. Some teachers were able to connect with their trainees on a level you can’t learn in any other way.

A gratitude for this experience and the relationship it formed is the biggest takeaway. What we’re all learning is that with confidence and determination, there is something more positive that can come out of every moment. We don’t have to lose our principles and values to be where we’re heading. It will likely be the most rewarding experience of your life if you can find the resilience and perseverance to keep moving on.

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