Recruit training

Recruit training
U.S. Army recruits learn bayonet fighting skills

Recruit training, more commonly known as Basic Training and colloquially called Boot Camp, is the initial indoctrination and instruction given to new military personnel, enlisted and officer. Officer trainees undergo more detailed programs, which may either precede or follow the common recruit training, taking place either in an officer training academy (which may also offer a civilian degree program simultaneously), or in special classes at a civilian university.

Recruit training varies by nation according to the national requirement, and can be voluntary (volunteer military) or mandatory (conscription). Approximately 100 nations have voluntary service, including the United Kingdom and United States. In voluntary service an individual chooses to join, and thereby agrees to subject himself to the process of building an organization where everyone's life is dependent on the person next to him. This voluntary status has changed the culture of military service.

Recruit training is oriented to the particular service. Army and Marine recruits are nearly always trained in basic marksmanship with individually-assigned weapons, field maintenance of weapons, hand-to-hand combat, physical fitness training, first aid, and basic survival techniques. Navy and Coast Guard training usually focuses on water survival training, physical fitness, basic seamanship, and skills such as shipboard firefighting, basic engineering, and signals. Air force training usually includes physical fitness training, military and classroom instructions, as well as field training in basic marksmanship, and first aid. In all training, standard uniforms are issued and recruits typically have their hair cut or shaved in order to meet grooming standards and make their appearance as uniform as possible. Recruits are generally given a service number. Recruits come from different levels of culture and society and thus recruit training must merge divergent trainees into a useful team. A national basic training will include provision for the basic needs of the recruit - food, shelter, clothing - and these will meet certain unit standards and unit requirements, such as 'mobility' for an infantry unit. A recruit therefore will be 'issued' basic provisions or equipment according to the requirements of the unit and taught responsible management of these provisions.

Recruit training has changed over the years as tactics of war have changed. Infantry units no longer attack in mass formations, however, to move units around a base, formations are useful and practical. A combat soldier on the ground may call-in artillery and/or air strikes, requiring a more intelligent and thinking recruit than ever before.

Recruits are typically instructed in "drill": to stand, march, and respond to orders. Historically, drills are derived from 18th-century military tactics in which soldiers in a fire line performed precise and coordinated movements to load and fire muskets. Although these particular tactics are now obsolete for the most part, drilling trains response to commands, assisting in training the recruit to act unhesitatingly in the face of real combat situations. All militaries in the modern world have learned a service member must think and choose what is right on behalf of his team members and his nation, and often these are critical decisions. Drill also enables the modern infantry soldier to maintain proper position relative to his peers and thus maintain the shape of his or her formation (arrowhead, line abreast, etc.) while moving over uneven terrain, or in the dark of night. Drill serves a role in leadership training. Combat situations include not only commands to engage and put one's life in danger, but also commands to disengage when military necessity so demands. Drill conditions the soldier ideally to instant response to commands, is essential for military function, because without it, a military unit would likely disintegrate under the stress of combat and degenerate into a mere armed mob. According to Finnish Army regulations, the close-order drill serves four functions:

  • is essential for the esprit de corps and cohesion for battlefield conditions
  • gets the recruits used to instinctive obedience and following the orders
  • enables large units to be marched and moved in an orderly manner
  • creates the basis for action in the battlefield.

Aspects of basic training are psychological. The reasoning is that if a recruit cannot be relied upon to obey orders and follow instructions in routine matters it is unlikely that he or she will be reliable in a combat situation where there may be a strong urge to disobey orders or flee. The recruit who cannot work as part of a team (the unit) and comply with the routine tasks of basic training, therefore, is more likely to place him/herself, comrades, and the mission in jeopardy. A recruit who agrees to serve in a combat unit will experience a unique level of 'agreement' among participants, termed unit cohesion, that cannot be equaled with any other human organization as every team member's life may depend on the actions of the recruit to his right or left. This unit cohesion is fully developed in special forces and commando units.

The process of transforming civilians into military personnel has been described by military historian Gwynne Dyer as a form of conditioning in which inductees are encouraged to partially submerge their individuality for the good of their unit. Dyer argues that this conditioning is essential for military function because combat requires people to endure stress and perform actions which are simply not present in normal life. For this reason, military units are not comparable with civilian organizations as the life of each participant is on the line and often dependent on all the others.



Most of the recruit training in the Australian Army is currently held at Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) at Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. Recruit training is 80 days long for members of the Australian Regular Army and 28 days long for members of the Australian Army Reserve. In basic training recruits are taught drill, weapons and workplace safety, basic equipment maintenance, marksmanship, fieldcraft, radio use and defensive/offensive operations.

Regional Force Surveillance Units

Training for recruits in the Regional Force Surveillance Units usually differs greatly from training in the rest of the Army. For instance, NORFORCE recruits attend an additional 2 week course at the Kangaroo Flats. Recruits from areas covered by the RFSUs often come from indigenous cultures radically different from that of the general Australian population, and as such many regular standards and methods of training are not as applicable in their case.

Royal Military College Duntroon

Recruit Training for Officers in the Australian Army (known as ICT - Initial Cadet Training) takes place at Royal Military College, Duntroon (RMC). The ICT is conducted for approximately 7 weeks after which staff cadets continue military instruction in skills such as weapons training, military history, leadership, strategic studies and other such skills at Section, Platoon and Company levels. Trainees at RMC hold the rank of Staff Cadet and, if successful in completing the course are commissioned as Lieutenants (pronounced Left-tenant). The overall full-time Officer Training course at RMC is 18 months long.


Royal Military College of Canada cadets compete in the prestigious Sandhurst Competition

Centralized recruit training in the Canadian Army did not exist until 1940, and until the creation of Basic Training Centres across Canada, recruit training had been done by individual units or depots.

The Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force were unified into one service, the Canadian Forces in 1968. The Canadian Forces Training System, a unified system for all the services, was devised and remains in place today.

Most non-commissioned CF recruits in the Regular Force (full time) participate in the 13 week Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) at Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Regular Force officers complete their 15 week Basic Military Officer Qualification (BMOQ) at CFLRS as well, before moving on to Second Language Training or their occupational training.

After basic training, personnel are trained in the specialty of their "environment". Members of the Royal Canadian Navy undergo a five week sea environment training course; with members of the Canadian Army undergo a 20 day Soldier Qualification course, while officers go through a 12 week Common Army Phase (now renamed to Basic Military Officer Qualification-Land); while members from the Royal Canadian Air Force move on directly to their trade training.

Reservists, particularly the Army Reserve, may conduct basic and trades training part-time, generally alternating weekends with their own units. Due to increased integration of the Regular and Reserve Force, many reservists attend courses hosted by the Regular Force. Members of the Army Reserves complete an 8 week BMQ/SQ combined course (Basic Military Qualification and Soldier Qualification) during the summer. The Naval and Air Reserve jointly conduct BMQ for its recruits at the Naval Reserve Training Division Borden, Ontario equivalent to Regular Force BMQ, at Canadian Forces Base Borden. The Navy trains its personnel in seamanship, firefighting, damage control and other skills after BMQ, in the Naval Environmental Training Program (NETP) in either Esquimalt, British Columbia or Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Royal Military College of Canada is the military academy of the Canadian Forces, and is a degree-granting university. The Royal Military College Saint-Jean is a Canadian military academy located on the site of Fort Saint-Jean (Quebec),


The Danish Army conducts the HBU (Hærens Basisuddannelse, Army Basic Training course) at 8 bases around the country. The course lasts four months, and has its focus on training skills used in connection with the Danish total defence, and on recruiting for the army's international missions, and for the NCO-schools. The recruits are technically conscripts, but during the years of the recession, many young men and woman have volunteered for HBU.


6-12 Months total. All Finnish conscripts undergo two months of basic training (peruskoulutuskausi), which is essentially the same for all servicemen. It includes assault rifle(RK-62/RK-95) marksman training, few other basic weapon training, battle training, short field medic training and camping skills. At the end of this training, all men are promoted to their first military rank. After this, specialized training is given depending on the person (4-10 months). The officer trainees go to AUK and become lower sergeants or to RUK and become second lieutenant. The officer training lasts always 10 months.


The Allgemeine Grundausbildung (AGA) (i.e. general basic training) of the Bundeswehr is to teach military skills. These include primarily a shooter and combat training, learning military etiquette (Formal service), to increase the physical capacity, and the teaching of theoretical knowledge (rights and obligations of a soldier). The MRA covers the first three months of military service.

The contents of the "Allgemeine Grundausbildung" includes

  • Combat training for troops of all services
  • Self-Help and comrades
  • General troops Client / Internal leadership
  • Sport, the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and the German sportbadge (DSA)
  • Hand Weapons Training (Rifle G36 or Heckler & Koch G3 rifle, P1 or P8 (Heckler & Koch USP) pistol, machine gun MG3)
  • Training for security guards and soldiers (ATN SichSold)
  • Medical training


The Indian military services have established numerous and distinguished academies and staff colleges across India for the purpose of training professional soldiers in new generation military sciences, warfare command and strategy, and associated technologies.


The recruit training of the Israel Defense Forces (called tironut in Hebrew) varies depending on the unit, where virtually each unique unit completes a different training course. Recruits are certified as riflemen after the completion of the training, while most non-combat units train in all-army bases for the certification of Rifleman 02.

Individuals desiring to become officers must apply to be trained at a facility in the Negev desert called "Bahad One" (abbreviation of "Basis Hadracha", Instruction Base). They must abide by a Code of Conduct and can be dismissed at anytime for failing to abide by that Code. There have been cases of recruits being dismissed for failure to pick up a piece of paper on the ground or failing to offer a seat on a bus to an elderly individual.[citation needed]


The Pakistan Military Academy (or PMA) is a Military Academy of the Pakistan Army. It is located at Kakul near Abbottabad in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakistan Military Academy is equivalent to Sandhurst, West Point or Tironut and undertakes training of the prospective officers of Pakistan Army. The academy has three training battalions and twelve companies. A Cadet is trained and passed out as an officer of the Pakistan Army in 2 years.

Enlisted Men undertake training at the Regimental Center of their chosen regiment.


National Service (NS) in Singapore is compulsory for all able-bodied male citizens and second generation permanent residents who have reached the age of 18. Conscripts enlisted into the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are required to attend Basic Military Training (BMT) at the beginning of their NS. They are known as Full Time National Servicemen (NSFs).

Based on their Physical Employment Status (PES) grade determined by a pre-enlistment medical examination, NSFs may undergo either a standard, enhanced, modified or obese BMT at the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) on the offshore island of Pulau Tekong or at the various military units that directly accept mono-intake PES A and B recruits.

Throughout the course of their BMT, NSFs will acquire the basic skills required of a SAF soldier by participating in a number of activities, which include: execute basic drills; attend physical training and pass an Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT); operate a SAR 21 assault rifle; throw a live grenade; complete a Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) and Battle Inoculation Course (BIC); go through a field camp etc. At the end of BMT, NSFs will typically complete a 24 kilometers long route march in Full Battle Order (FBO) and attend a Passing Out Parade (POP).

After BMT, NSFs will receive notifications about their respective vocations, which are determined by their PES status and suitability for deployment. Some of them will be directly posted to a military unit while others may undergo vocational training at certain institutes before being posted to units. NSFs who have performed well during BMT may progress to either the Specialist Cadet School (SCS) or Officer Cadet School (OCS) for further training to become Specialists (non-commissioned officers) or Officers. NSFs will serve the remaining part of their NS in their respective units until their Operationally Ready Date (ORD), whereupon they will be known as Operationally-Ready National Serviceman (NSmen, or reservists). NSmen may still be required to attend reservist training or In-Camp Training (ICT) from time to time.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, officer training is carried out at the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and at the respective Military Academies of each respective service.

Recruit training for enlisted personal of the Sri Lanka Army is organised by the Army Training School and carried out at its premises and at several other locations. Following basic training specialized training would be carried out at Regimental Training Centres.

Basic training for new recruits of the Sri Lanka Navy which is approximately six months are conducted at Advanced Naval Training Center, SLNS 'Nipuna'; Naval Artificer Training Institute, SLNS 'Thakshila', Welisara; and at Naval Recruit Training Centres at several shore establishments . This basic training will be followed by on-the-job training on-board fleet units and at shore establishments. Combat Training School at SLNS 'Pandukabaya' conducts combat training for Naval Patrolmen.

Basic training for airmen of the Sri Lanka Air Force is handled by the Training Wing of the SLAF Diyatalawa. This is followed by secularized training at Advanced & Specialized Trade Training School.

United States

In the United States, recruit training in the Army is called Basic Combat Training, U.S. Army Infantry undergoes OSUT (One Station Unit Training) which involves BCT, Infantry Advanced Individual Training and Specialized Infantry Training (such as Bradley, or Mortar School) all in one, in the Air Force it is called Basic Military Training or "BMT", in the Navy and Marine Corps, it is called Recruit Training and in the Coast Guard, it is called, "Basic Training."

Some services present a badge or other award to denote completion of recruit training. The United States Army typically issues the Army Service Ribbon (issued after completion of Advanced Individual Training), and the United States Air Force presents the Air Force Training Ribbon and the Airman's Coin. The United States Marine Corps issue the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor once initial training is complete to signify that the recruits are now Marines. The United States Navy replaces the "RECRUIT" ball cap the recruits have worn throughout training with the "NAVY" ball cap upon successful completion of "Battle Stations". The United States Coast Guard's basic training graduates place a Coast Guard Medallion on their ball cap.

For honor graduates of basic training, both the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard present a Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon. The Navy and Marine Corps often meritoriously advance the top graduates of each division one pay-grade (up to a maximum of E-3).


US Army bayonet training.

In the U.S. Army, recruits are sent to Basic Training in a location chosen by the military Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, which is selected upon enlistment.

Basic training is divided into two parts, which commonly take place at two different locations, depending on the chosen MOS:

  • Basic Combat Training, or BCT, is a nine-week training period.
  • Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, is where new soldiers receive specific training in their chosen MOS. The length of AIT training varies depending on the MOS and can last anywhere from six weeks to one year.
  • Several MOSs combine both in a back-to-back combined course called One Station Unit Training (OSUT), the longest recruit training in United States Armed Services, which can last up to 22 weeks.

The U.S. Army has five sites for BCT:

All 11b (infantry) MOSs have a 16-week basic training program.

Many argue that Army OSUT (One Station Unit Training) is the longest recruit training of any branch, because there is no noticeable change of phases in the eye of the soldier from beginning to end of the recruits training. The recruit does not "become a soldier" until the entire OSUT cycle is finished. The same environment, including drill sergeants, discipline, rules and regulations, recruits, roster numbers, barracks and overall lifestyle remain intact for the entire cycle.

Basic Combat Training is divided into three phases. During Phase I, (also known as "Red Phase") recruits are subject to "Total Control," meaning their every action is monitored and constantly corrected by drill sergeants. The first week of training is commonly referred to as "Hell Week," due to the intense period of adjustment required on the part of the new recruits. Marches are common throughout basic training. Recruits are sent to the "gas chamber" during Phase I, as part of training for defensive chemical warfare. They are also introduced to their standard-issue weapon, the M16A2 or M4 assault rifle.

Phase II (also known as "White Phase") is where soldiers begin actually firing weapons, starting with the assault rifle (M4A1). Other weapons the recruit becomes familiarized with include various grenades (such as the M67 fragmentation grenade) and grenade launchers (such as the M203). Recruits are then familiarized with the bayonet, anti-tank/armor weaponry and other heavy weapons. There is also an obstacle course which the soldiers are expected to negotiate in a certain amount of time. Additionally, there is continual, intense PT, as well as drill and ceremony training. At the conclusion of Phase II, soldiers are expected to demonstrate proficiency with the various weaponry with which they trained.

Phase III or "Blue Phase", is the culmination and the most challenging of all the training phases. During the first week, there is a final PT test. Recruits that fail are frequently retested, often up until the morning of their cycle's graduation. If they do not pass they are recycled to another platoon until they meet the fitness standards. The final PT Test is the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Usually, a Soldier needs to score at least 60 points in each APFT category (pushups, sit-ups, and 2 mile run) to pass, but in Army Basic Training, only 50 points is required, though at AIT the Soldier will take another APFT with a 60 point requirement. During Blue Phase, the recruits move on to longer and more intensive "bivouac" (camping) and FTX (Field Training Exercises), such as nighttime combat operations. Drill sergeants will make much of this an adversarial process, working against the recruits in many of the night operations, trying to foil plans, etc.

Marine Corps

A Marine Drill Instructor inspects his platoon shortly before Lights Out.

United States Marine Corps Recruit Depots are located at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. All female enlisted Marines go to Parris Island. Men go to either, depending on whether they were recruited east or west of the Mississippi River.

Marine Corps Recruit Training is divided up into three four-week phases and further broken down into individual training days. While there are 69 individual training days, recruits also go through pre- and post-training processing. Phase one mainly consists of learning recruit life protocol, physical training, MCMAP training, academic classes, initial drill, a series inspection, and the confidence course. West coast recruits also do swim qualification during this phase. Phase two is completely in the field at Camp Pendleton for west coast recruits, with the first two weeks being spent on marksmanship training and qualification with the M16A2 service rifle, and the last week in the field learning skills such as fireteam formations, land navigation, and hikes. For east coast recruits, phase two is swim qualification, rifle qualification, and Team Week, a week of maintenance duties for the island as a sort of relative break from training. Phase three brings the San Diego recruits back to the recruit depot where they finish up with final drill, final inspection, more PT and confidence courses, and graduation. During third phase, west coast recruits also go back into the field one last time to do the Crucible event. Parris Island recruits finish with field training, final drill and inspection, the Crucible, and graduation. Note that recruits going to either depot receive exactly the same training, if in a different order.

Recruit training for Marines is a 12 week long (was formally 13-week long program), and is followed by SOI (School of Infantry) or MCT (Marine Combat Training)military occupational specialties (MOS) located at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (for Parris Island graduates) and Camp Pendleton, California (for San Diego graduates). Marines with an infantry MOS (03XX) receive 59 days of training at ITB (Infantry Training Battalion) and then are assigned to a unit, while non-infantry receive 28 days of training at MCTB (Marine Combat Training Battalion) and then attend their MOS-specific school.


A Navy Recruit Division Commander conducts "Instructional Training" to correct substandard performance during boot camp.

The U.S. Navy currently operates boot camp at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, located at Naval Station Great Lakes, near North Chicago, Illinois. Instead of having Drill Sergeants or Drill Instructors like other U.S. Military branches, the U.S. Navy has RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) that are assigned to each division. Training lasts approximately eight weeks (although some recruits will spend as many as nine weeks in training due to the somewhat complicated processing cycle). Days are counted by a system that lists the week and day that they are on, for example 7-3 for week 7 day 3. The first approximate week is counted P-1, P-2, etc. which denotes that it is a processing day and does not count as part of their 8 week training period. Recruits are instructed on military drill, basic seamanship, basic shipboard damage control, firefighting, familiarization with the M9 pistol and Mossberg 500 shotgun (the Navy no longer gives instruction on the M-16 in boot camp), pass the confidence chamber (tear gas filled chamber), PT, and the basic essentials on Navy life. Recruits also attend many classes throughout boot camp on subjects such as Equal Opportunity, Sexual Assault Victim Intervention, Uniform Code Of Military Justice, recognition of naval aircraft and vessels, and more. In order for recruits to pass boot camp, they will be physically and mentally tested on a 12 hour exercise called Battle Stations which consists of 12 different scenarios consisting of firefighting, first aid knowledge, survival at sea, mass casualties, shipboard flood control, bomb detection and many other skills that they have been learning in the past 7 weeks. After completion of boot camp, freshly minted Sailors are sent either to various "A" Schools located across the United States, where they begin training to receive their ratings (jobs) or to apprenticeship training, where they then enter the fleet without a designation.

The Navy formerly operated Recruit Training Centers in San Diego, California, Orlando, Florida, Mississippi and Port Deposit (Bainbridge), Maryland. From 1942 to 1946 Naval Training Station (USNTS Sampson) (in 1950 renamed Sampson Air Force Base) near Seneca Lake, NY trained over 400,000 recruits.

Air Force

A formation of USAF trainees.

The U.S. Air Force's Basic Military Training (BMT) is eight and a half weeks long, as they do not count your first week also known as week 0. A breakdown of BMT can be found here. BMT is 63 calendar days long. It is conducted at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. Formerly, trainees were referred to as "Airman" from day one of BMT. This has been changed; now, personnel are referred to as Trainees until the Airman's Coin Ceremony in the eighth week of training, when they receive their Airman's Coin. Trainees receive military instruction (including the Air Force core values, flight and individual drill, and living area inspections), academic classes (covering topics such as Air Force history, dress and appearance, military customs and courtesies, ethics, security, and alcohol/drug abuse prevention and treatment), and field training (including protection against biological and chemical attack, basic marksmanship on the M-16 rifle as well as first aid). Following BMT, Airmen go to a technical school (or 'tech school') where they learn the specifics of their Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), which is similar to the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) in the Army and Marines, the Navy's NEC (Naval Enlisted Classification) code, or the Coast Guard's ratings.

All non-prior-service enlistees are required to complete BMT, including those enlisting in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command. Reserve component enlistees receive the same training as their active-duty counterparts. Credit can be given on a case-by-case basis for enlistees with college credit, Eagle Scouts and service in the Civil Air Patrol for promotion to E-2 (Airman) or E-3 (Airman First Class) upon graduation from BMT. The stripes are not worn until graduation, though trainees are paid at their advanced paygrade.

Lackland AFB has been associated with BMT for almost the Air Force's entire history. From 1950 to 1956 300,000 airmen received BMT at Sampson Air Force Base in New York. In 1951, Parks Air Force Base in Dublin, California became a BMT center, with training beginning in March, 1952. BMT at Parks AFB ceased later in the decade and the installation was transferred to the US Army in 1959. For a brief time between 1966 and 1968, the Air Force operated a second BMT at Amarillo AFB, in Amarillo, Texas.

Unlike the Army and Navy, but like the Marine Corps (throughout boot camp) and Coast Guard (during the first section of boot camp), trainees are required to refer to all Airmen, enlisted and NCO's as well as commissioned and warrant officers, as "sir" or "ma'am." Trainees are required to preface speaking to Military Training Instructors with their "reporting statement:"

"Sir/Ma'am, Trainee Jones reports as ordered."

An additional 2 weeks of BMT was added to the program on November 1, 2008, extending the duration of BMT from six and a half weeks to eight and a half weeks. BMT has been tailored to incorporate some of the additional warfighting skills to coincide with increased AEF rotations, and more frequent support of its sister services during those rotations.[1]

Coast Guard

A Coast Guard Company Commander instructs a recruit during basic training.

Recruit training for the United States Coast Guard is held at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May in Cape May, New Jersey. The training lasts eight weeks. The U.S. Coast Guard is unique in that it fires the Sig Sauer P229R pistol[2] during the training. The training also covers basic seamanship, drill, military bearing and firefighting. The Coast Guard base on Government Island (now known as Coast Guard Island) Alameda, California was also used as a second major recruit training center until it was closed in 1982 and converted into the base for the USCG Pacific Area Command, the Eleventh Coast Guard District, the Marine Safety Office San Francisco Bay, the USCG Maintenance & Logistics Command Pacific and the Integrated Support Command Center - Alameda.

Although the USCG is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of Defense, the United States Coast Guard is by law and tradition a branch of the United States Armed Forces. As with all military members, USCG personnel are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Due to the unique mission set of the US Coast Guard including CONUS and OCONUS defense operations, search and rescue and maritime law enforcement, there are added requirements to maintain high physical fitness standards and intense military bearing. Due to its unique and extremely diverse and difficult mission the U. S. Coast Guard is the most selective in recruiting and training standards. (As an example, the Coast Guard Academy is the only service academy that uses competitive admissions for prospective officer candidates). The Coast Guard enlisted recruit training is, on balance in both physical and cognitive requirements, the most challenging of all the military services boot camps.

During their time at TRACEN (Training Center) Cape May, recruits are subjected to the usual "boot camp" atmosphere of direct instruction and intense motivation. The recruits are designated as Seamen recruits (SR-E1), and uniquely to the Coast Guard among the services, upon graduation members are advanced to the rank of Seaman Apprentice/Airman Apprentice/Fireman Apprentice (SA-E2) by virtue of graduation. They must adhere to strict rules such as hygiene and uniform regulations and obey all lawful orders. Coast Guard drill instructors are called "Company Commanders" and are of the rate of Petty Officer 2nd Class through Senior Chief Petty Officer. Coast Guard Companies have approximately two or three Company Commanders and anywhere from 20 to over 100 recruits.

After completing boot camp, recruits can select their rate and then attend an "A" school. Not all graduates go straight to "A" school, many spend time in the fleet as "Non-Rates". "A" school is a long-term technical school providing specific instruction about a rate. The "A" schools last two to six months and usually occurs at TRACEN Yorktown, Yorktown, Virginia or TRACEN Petaluma, Petaluma, California. Some rates have an available apprenticeship training option instead of attending an "A" school, known as "Striking".

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