The Home Stretch: Surviving The Blue Phase
Previously I've talked about the "White Phase," which takes place between weeks 4-6 of basic training. Once you get through the White Phase, you will transition to the next level: The Blue Phase.
The Blue Phase encompasses weeks 6 through 9 of basic training. During this period you will wrap up your series of classes in military values. Your morning physical fitness sessions will be more intense, and longer in duration. Many recruits like this phase the best because of the numerous confidence builders, including the appropriately titled "confidence course."
In the Army, the confidence course is a series of 24 obstacles, which will test a recruit's mental and physical capability to negotiate certain situations. The second confidence builder a recruit undergoes is foot marches. During the Red and White phases, you might have been required to go on a few road marches, but not to the extent you will have to undergo during the blue phase. Be forewarned, the foot marches in this phase are long and arduous -- about 10 kilometers long, with you carrying all your equipment.
All of the knowledge you gather throughout basic training will culminate to a 3-day field training exercise (FTX), which combines all previously taught basic combat skills. During FTX, you will complete teamwork exercises and missions. The last night includes the night infiltration course, where you will learn to shoot your weapon at night. If you have never seen a tracer bullet, pop a Star Wars movie into your DVD player. This exercise was my personal favorite in the entire 9 weeks of basic training -- not only is it neat to watch, but it also gives you tremendous confidence in your weapon. Once you successfully complete the 3-day FTX, your company will have a ceremony recognizing the successful completion of this challenging exercise.
One of the worst things that can happen to a recruit during basic training is to get what's called "recycled," the military's term for starting all over again. Yes that's right, it is possible for a recruit to make it to the last day of basic training, and have to start all over again because of disciplinary action. I have personally seen it done. The best advice I can tell you in this phase is to never let your guard down. Often by this time, recruits are getting cocky, their confidence is high, they have been accomplishing tasks they never thought they could, and they are getting used to their dill sergeants. If you let your guard down and do something to get you in trouble, you are liable to get recycled. Don't assume your going to graduate basic training until you are on the plane ride home.
Another quick tip: Before you graduate, don't forget to get your friends' phone numbers and/or addresses. It is amazing how fast you leave once you graduate. Sometimes you never get to say goodbye to your friends, which you might regret later in life. [Of course, you can always track them down later using Military.com's Buddy Finder if you need to!]
For more information on the Red, White, and Blue phases of basic training, go to www.ultimatebasictrainingguidebook.com. The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook has everything from fitness routines to tips on how to avoid negative attention from Drill Sergeants. Of course, you are always welcome to e-mail any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Volkin is the author of the Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, available at www.ultimatebasictraining.com.