Extended Basic Training Pilot for Armor, Engineers Planned
Armor and engineer basic training will be extended to 22 weeks in a pilot program that begins in January, and the longer training is likely to be expanded to other combat arms specialties in the next two fiscal years, said Maj. Gen. Gary Brito, commander of the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Ga.
The first extended basic training pilot began July 25 at Fort Benning with infantry troops as part of the Army’s plan to increase soldier lethality as a top modernization priority. Some 400 soldiers in two basic training companies are participating in the pilot, which is slated to end Dec. 7.
The success of the pilot so far has tempered concerns about the possibility of cumulative stress among trainees, drill sergeants and cadre, Brito said at a recent Hot Topic forum on Army aviation hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.
“No one has dropped out. We have no injuries, and we have nobody that just wanted to quit,” said Brito, who suggested that the longer training has infused a “warrior spirit” as well.
The extended training will increase lethality and readiness by providing a higher number of repetitions in core soldier tasks such as marksmanship, land navigation and physical training. Soldiers get more field time, rucksack marching miles and the nutrition, health and diet practices needed to ensure injury prevention. The intent is to produce soldiers who are combat-ready when they arrive at their first unit of assignment. The first 400 infantrymen who graduate from the pilot will be assessed for this beginning early next year.
“I really do think this is going to help the combat readiness and deployability for the Army,” Brito said.