New BCT Testing for Individual Skills Starts Oct. 1!

Army recruits that attend Basic Combat Training will have some new requirements starting on Oct. 1 that the Army hopes will assist in the transition away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to preparing for future conflicts. The new requirements include a battery of potential tests at the end of each phase of BCT, along with a timed march and peer evaluations.

Red Phase

The first of these new tests show up at the end of the 3-week-long Red Phase of BCT. The soldiers' company commander chooses 5 tasks for each soldier, and the soldier must complete 4 out of 5 to "pass" and move on to White Phase. The Red Phase tasks are:

  • React to a Chemical or Biological (CB) attack.
  • Perform first aid for bleeding of an extremity.
  • Perform first aid for an open chest wound.
  • Evaluate a casualty.
  • Demonstrate first aid for head injuries.
  • Perform first aid to clean an object stuck in the throat of a conscious casualty.
  • Perform first aid to prevent/control shock.
  • Recite the Army Values.
  • Challenge persons entering your area.
  • React to an approaching officer While walking and/or seated.
  • React to an approaching NCO while walking and/or seated.
  • React to an inspecting officer.
  • Report to an officer indoors and outdoors.
  • React to an officer entering a building.
  • Identify rank.
  • Perform a functions check on an M16/M4.
  • Load an M16/M4.
  • Unload an M16/M4.
  • Correct malfunctions of an M16/M4.
  • Execute drill movements with arms (stationary).
  • Execute drill movements with arms (marching).

White Phase

At the end of the 3-week White Phase, soldiers must complete 7 out of 9 of the following tasks in order to move on to the final Blue Phase. Many of the tasks are duplicates of the tasks from Red Phase. Here is the complete list:

  • Protect yourself from Chemical/Biological contamination using your protective mask.
  • React to a Chemical or Biological attack.
  • React to nuclear hazard/attack.
  • Decontaminate yourself and equipment using chemical decontaminating kits.
  • Perform voice communications.
  • Identify terrain features on a map.
  • Determine the grid coordinates of a point on a map.
  • Measure distance on a map.
  • Determine a magnetic azimuth using a lensatic compass.
  • Identify chemical agents using M8 or M9 detector paper.
  • Perform first aid for bleeding of an extremity.
  • Perform first aid for an open chest wound.
  • Evaluate a casualty.
  • Perform first aid for an open chest wound.
  • Evaluate a casualty.
  • Perform first aid to prevent or control shock.
  • Perform functions check on an M16/M4.
  • Recite the Army Values.
  • Challenge persons entering your area.
  • Perform first aid for heat injuries.
  • Perform first aid to clear an object stuck in the throat of a conscious casualty.
  • Load an M16/M4.
  • Unload an M16/M4.
  • Execute drill movements with arms (marching).
  • Execute drill movements with arms (stationary).
  • React to an approaching officer while walking and/or seated.
  • React to an approaching NCO while walking and/or seated.
  • React to an inspecting officer.
  • Report to an officer indoors and outdoors.
  • React to an officer entering a building.
  • Identify rank.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of military time/24-hour clock.

Blue Phase

To graduate from 4-week-long Blue Phase, soldiers must complete 18 of the 20 following tasks. Again, many of the tasks are repeats of the Red and White tasks, here is the complete list:

  • Perform functions check on an M16/M4.
  • Load an M16/M4.
  • Unload an M16/M4.
  • Unload an M249 machine gun.
  • Load an M249 machine gun.
  • Correct a malfunction of an M249 machine gun.
  • Unload an M203 grenade launcher.
  • Load an M203 grenade launcher.
  • Identify terrain features on a map.
  • Determine the grid coordinates of a point on a map.
  • Determine a magnetic azimuth using a lensatic compass.
  • Measure distance on a map.
  • Perform voice communications.
  • Report information of potential intelligence value.
  • Challenge persons entering your area.
  • Evaluate a casualty.
  • Perform first aid to clear an object stuck in the throat of a conscious casualty.
  • Perform first aid to prevent or control shock.
  • Perform first aid to restore breathing or pulse.
  • React to nuclear hazard/attack.
  • Perform first aid for a suspected fracture.
  • Perform first aid for a cold injury.
  • Perform first aid for a nerve agent injury.
  • Transport a casualty.
  • Decontaminate yourself and equipment using chemical decontaminating kits.
  • Protect yourself from Chemical/Biological contamination using your protective mask.

Final Field Test

In addition to the tests after each phase, there are now some new graduation requirements to successfully complete the final 95.5-hour field test. Those new requirements include:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in basic first aid techniques.
  • Complete a 16-kilometer road march in under 6 hours.
  • Pass the team (2-person) navigation course, scoring at least 3 out of 5 points.
  • Safely handle, provide proper maintenance, zero and qualify with your individual weapon using the M68 sighting device and participate in the weapons immersion program.
  • Pass the end of cycle hands-on test and demonstrate elemental proficiency in the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.
  • Complete Combatives Training (Rifle Fighting Techniques), a course teaching soldiers how to use their individual weapon as a less-than-lethal striking and blocking weapon.
  • The previous requirements (minimum APFT score, obstacle course/confidence tower, hand grenade throw, etc.) all still remain.

The Army is also incorporating peer reviews, which are often used in Ranger School and military academies, to help the generally-younger soldiers going through BCT to better see themselves and hold themselves accountable for their own character. The peer reviews will likely occur at the squad level, although whether they will be at regular intervals throughout each phase or more sporadic has yet to be determined.

Smaller Army = Higher Quality

These revisions to the Army's BCT have been in the works for at least a couple of years, since the winding-down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of the lessons were overly-focused on training soldiers for those conflicts. Some of the Middle East-specific tasks that have been pulled out of BCT include convoy training, cultural training, landmine detection, and personnel recovery.

Phase testing used to be a part of BCT until it was removed in 2004, and now it is back in order to ensure a quality and well-rounded soldier. While Army Basic Combat Training is typically 10 weeks, soldiers that can't successfully complete their end-of-phase exams will be recycled. Those soldiers who repeatedly make the same mistakes, can't adapt, or have conduct or character issued will not be allowed to graduate. These tests focus on individual skills rather than team exercises - ensuring that every soldiers masters basic skills and pulls their own weight.

Sgt. 1st Class David Stover, the 2013 Drill Sergeant of the Year, was involved in these new training requirements, and referred to the new BCT as the "G.I. Joe starter kit”. Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Woods, the senior enlisted soldier for the Center for Initial Military Training, remarked that the increase in demand for quality soldiers is driven by the expected shrinking of the Army, "Whenever the Army gets smaller, the quality of individuals needs to be higher,” Woods said.

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