Army changing basic training this October

| October 10, 2015 | 0 Comments
Bayonet training is conducted at BCT in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 2010. (File photo)

Bayonet training is conducted at BCT in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 2010. (File photo)

In Part 2 of 4, testing, retesting get an up-close look

Todd Lopez
Army News Service

Army Basic Combat Training, or BCT, includes a red, white and blue phase.

Each phase includes lessons that focus on the social, physical and cognitive development of new Soldiers.

At one time, the Army tested Soldiers to make sure they had learned what they were supposed to learn while in those phases of BCT.

“Long ago, we used to do phase testing,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Woods, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Center for Initial Military Training. “Then, we quit doing that. We are bringing phase testing back. There’s red, white and blue phase testing.”

In October, the Army will reintroduce end of phase testing. Soldiers will be evaluated at the end of each phase for what they were supposed to learn, and each phase builds on and re-tests Soldiers on what they had learned in previous phases.

“Testing at the end of each phase gets more difficult,” Woods said, “and blue phase testing includes everything.”

Woods said testing at the end of phases for everything taught up until then is a change from how things had been done, which was to test Soldiers after each lesson was taught. He said that created problems with knowledge retention. There simply wasn’t enough time to get in the skill and knowledge application repetition that makes new ideas stick.

“I’d give you a bunch of first aid training, and then test you on it,” he said, “and if you pass, we move on to the next subject. But we weren’t doing enough repetitions of these activities to make sure you have it under stress. There are more repetitions now and more time spent on a task.”

One reason there is more time, Woods said, is because less time is going to be spent in BCT on theater-specific knowledge. Soldiers have to have general knowledge now, rather than Iraq-specific knowledge. Clearing out lessons that prepared Soldiers for the desert means there is more room to hammer home the ideas that are more applicable the world over, he said.

Soldiers failing to pass those end of phase tests might, at the discretion of the commander, be recycled back to an appropriate part of BCT, so they can relearn what they failed to capture the first time. Then, they will be able to retake those phase tests and prove they are good enough to be a Soldier.

Systems are in place now to recycle Soldiers back into earlier parts of BCT for such things as failure to meet physical fitness requirements, or for having gotten hurt. But those recycles are at the discretion of the commander and are also somewhat ad hoc in nature.

Thriso Hamilton Jr., who worked with others on making changes to the BCT program of instruction, said recycles will now be standardized across all four basic training locations.

“All BCT locations will be ‘on the same sheet of music’ when it comes to recycles,” he said.

“When commanders identify individuals who are not able to meet the requirements of BCT, they will have the opportunity to new-start or recycle those Soldiers to a point where they are able to go back over what they were not proficient at to begin with,” Hamilton said. “Those Soldiers – instead of them progressing through and possibly not meeting the requirements to graduate from BCT – are going to be afforded a second opportunity to go through the training, and that will increase the numbers of those who graduate.”

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Category: Army News Service, News, Training

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