Army Expands Prep Course for Future Soldiers

Army Expands Prep Course for Future Soldiers

Recruits taking an oath
Photo by: U.S. Army/1st Lt. Christopher Booker

The Army is expanding its new course for recruits who need to get in better physical shape or improve their test scores before going to basic training. 

Launched in August as a pilot at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the Future Soldier Preparatory Course is designed to give selected recruits the boost they need to meet the Army’s academic and physical standards and qualify to become soldiers. 

The program’s success has led the Army to add two more training companies at Fort Jackson for recruits who score between 21 and 30 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. 

Those who score between 31 and 49 will have the opportunity to attend the academic portion of the course at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the first students are set to arrive during the last week of January and begin classes Feb. 6. They will have 30 days to get their scores up. 

The maximum score on the test is 99.

Recruits who improve in at least one test category at the Fort Benning academic portion of the course will be able to renegotiate their contract and get any incentives offered in their new test category. If they qualify for a priority or shortage MOS, they may be able to select a new MOS based on the needs of the Army.

Recruits who don’t improve at least one test category will ship to basic training based on their original contract.

“The model developed at Fort Jackson has been overwhelmingly successful at preparing and building quality recruits by tapping into their unrealized potential,” Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard, commander of Fort Benning, said in a news release. “We are excited to bring the Future Soldier Preparatory Course to Fort Benning and increase the opportunity to serve in our Army without sacrificing the quality needed across the force.”

According to the release, 3,206 students had attended the course at Fort Jackson by the end of 2022. Most of those, 2,965, graduated and went on to basic combat training.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth has praised the success of the program, which was developed as the Army faces a challenging recruiting environment. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said it shows the Army is willing to “invest in young men and women.”

“Either they are improving their scores or they are losing body fat,” McConville said Jan. 18 at a breakfast hosted by the Association of the U.S Army as part of its Coffee Series.

The focus, he said, is on development in an environment where “there is no screaming or yelling.”