What to Do Before Basic

There are several skills and nuggets of knowledge that would prove helpful to already know before going to basic combat training (BCT):

  • Study and practice the basics of drill
  • Download and review the US Army Pocket PT Guide to get yourself physically prepared.
  • Learn and memorize Army officer and enlisted ranks
  • Memorize the Army Core Values, General Orders, and the Soldier's Creed
  • Women might want to get their hair cut short before going since the barbers on post are known only for cutting hair short and not necessarily for any skill with making the haircut look nice.
  • Set up a bank account before leaving for basic training. Bring your account information and an ATM/debit card with you. If you don't have an account set up, the staff will require that you immediately establish an account at the base's credit union or bank. Unfortunately, waiting to set up an account when you get to BCT typically results in several weeks of waiting for a debit card and will hamper your ability to easily access your pay.

What to bring to BCT


  • Social Security card
  • Valid driver's license or current state identification card
  • A direct deposit form from your checking account signed by a bank official, or the name, address, account number, and routing number of your financial institution (if applicable)
  • Original or certified copies of your marriage certificate, divorce decree, or separation order (if applicable)
  • Original or certified copies of birth certificates of children under 18; affidavit of support from parents; court documents and direct deposit forms if ordered to pay spousal and/or child support (if applicable)
  • Proof of citizenship (if you were not born in the United States)
  • If you are married to a service member in the military, you need to have the name, Social Security number, and military address of your spouse
  • Copies of your lease agreement or rental contract for any dependents residing outside of government quarters (if applicable)
  • Original or certified ROTC documentation (if applicable)
  • Original college transcripts; GED or high school diploma
  • Be sure to have all copies of orders and documents issued by your unit Recruiter and/or MEPS. These orders must be delivered by you and by hand. Travel and meal tickets will be provided.


  • One outfit of casual, comfortable clothing
  • Three sets of white underwear for men and three sets of white cotton panties and bras, one full slip, and flesh-tone nylons or pantyhose for women
  • Pair of white, calf-length athletic socks (no color bands, designs, or logos)
  • Pair of comfortable shoes
  • Eyeglasses (simple, not designer)
  • One small suitcase or duffel bag
  • Black shower shoes
  • Women may wear quarter-inch or smaller pearl, gold, silver, or diamond spherical earrings with US Army uniforms, except for the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and physical fitness uniform.

Personal Care Items

  • Disposable/safety razor with blades
  • Shaving cream (optional for women)
  • Toothbrush with case
  • Hairbrush or 6" black comb
  • One washcloth and towel
  • Antiperspirant
  • Black shower shoes
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Cotton swabs and balls (not so much for your ears as much as for cleaning your rifle)
  • foot powder or cream
  • moleskin (for blister prevention)
  • Soap and soap case
  • Personal black bag to hold all your toiletries.
  • Tons of cough drops


  • Combination lock
  • Small notepads and pen/pencil
  • Cheap digital watch with black band
  • Old white shirt or other thin cloth to use for polishing shoes/boots
  • Basic shoe polish kit


  • $10, but no more than $50 in cash
  • ATM/debit card
  • Traveler's Checks or Money Orders (Personal checks are not recommended because of limited check-cashing facilities.)
  • Postage stamps
  • phone card

What to Leave at Home

You really don't need to bring anything that isn't listed above to boot camp. Especially avoid bringing any alcohol, tobacco products, drugs (nonprescription, paraphernalia), items that could be weapons (pocket knives, steel hair picks, razor blades), pornographic material, expensive items (jewelry, cameras, personal electronics), and items that could be used for gambling (playing cards, dice, dominoes). Of course, you will need to leave your family and pets at home; the US Army will not provide housing for them yet.

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