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Basic Training Army - Getting Ready for Basic Training Army - Preparation and Reception Week, Red Phase, White Phase, Blue Phase, Conclusion

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In the United States, the first post-recruitment step in becoming a soldier is basic training. Army basic training begins with an introductory week, followed by three three-week phases referred to as Red Phase, White Phase, and Blue Phase.

Preparation and Reception Week

The United States Army suggests that soldiers-to-be bring the following personal items:
  • 3 days of practical clothing and underwear
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes
  • 1 small suitcase or gym bag
  • 2 locks
  • 6 pairs of athletic socks
  • Disposable razors and shaving cream
  • 2 washcloths
  • 2 towels
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste in case
  • Floss
  • Comb (women)
  • Deodorant
  • Flip-flops
  • Shampoo
  • Soap in case
  • Eyeglasses if needed
  • $10-$50
  • Traveler’s checks

Other items will be purchased or issued. The main reason for these items is the first 3-4 days, which are spent in a “reception battalion,” where new recruits fill out paperwork, get vaccinations and a physical exam, receive uniforms, and get identification forms and cards.
Female recruits are permitted to wear 1/4” or less gold, silver, diamond, or pearl earrings in certain uniforms, so these may be brought as well.
The paperwork also requires the following documents where applicable:

  • Social Security Card

  • Driver’s License

  • A direct deposit form signed by a bank (form SF 1199A, available from a bank; two are required if the recruit pays child support)

  • Current marriage license and/or divorce decree(s)

  • Birth certificates for all children

  • Proof of citizenship if not born in the United States

  • ROTC transcript (Reserve Officer Training through college)
  • Copy of lease for off-post quarters (for married recruits)

  • (If married to another member of the service) Spouse’s SSN and military address

  • (If involved in loan repayment program) All promissory notes

  • Your orders

Other personal items are fairly restricted: no playing cards, no cameras, no cigarettes, no batteries.

Red Phase

Red Phase is the first part of basic training. Army recruits will endure a two week training course that humbles recruits and breaks them of their civilian mindset. This is those two weeks when drill sergeants yell and assigns difficult tasks with high expectations of failure. Though psychologically grueling, Red Phase is not as difficult physically as later phases. Rather, it is part of the overall system which upgrades civilians to army levels of fitness.

Red Phase includes first aid, radio communication, map reading, military law, survival, and an introduction to military equipment like bayonets, gas masks, and the M-16A2 rifle.

White Phase

The largest phase at 4-6 weeks, White Phase represents a shift from psychological to combat-specific basic training. Army recruits practice assembling, disassembling, and firing their weapons. Focus is on the M16A-2 rifle, but other weaponry includes the M249 machine gun, grenade launcher, LAW, claymores, grenades, and hand-to-hand combat.

Discipline, teamwork, and morale continue to be priorities.

Blue Phase

Blue Phase focuses on individual and small unit tactics. This phase includes obstacle courses, providing cover, night infiltration, and live fire exercises. It concludes with a week-long field training exercise. This exercise typically includes urban operations, convoy exercises, and live fire scenarios.

Blue Phase also contains the final physical fitness test. The standards of this test are based on age and gender, and include push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run.


After basic training, army recruits continue to AIT, or Advanced Individual Training. This will equip them with more job-specific tasks built upon the foundation that basic training has created.

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