What Happens in Air Force Basic Training?


The United States Air Force, like all other military branches, has its own basic training. Although the Air Force's primary mission isn't to defend the ground, Air Force basic training incorporates ground defense training since many military missions involve joint branch cooperation. As such, Air Force trainees will learn about more than just planes.


  • Air Force basic training is at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Upon arrival, the trainee is assigned to a flight where he will be with other trainees. The welcoming training instructor, known as T.I.s, will most likely line the trainees up in formation and outline everyone's responsibilities. He may even practice command-response skills with the trainees by ordering them to pick up and put down their personal belongings in unison. Trainees are then shown their living quarters where they will spend the next eight weeks together.

Zero Week

  • Zero week is the week where trainees go through initial Air Force processing before learning anything else Air Force-related. Training instructors take an aggressive training approach in order to level the trainees and give them the "one unit" mindset. Zero week includes male trainees having their heads completely shaved, all trainees receiving immunizations and dental exams, and the issuance of uniforms. The initial fitness evaluation--which consists of push-ups, sit ups and a run--is also conducted. Drug testing is also done.

Warrior Week

  • Trainees will participate in a "Warrior Week" where they learn how to shoot an M-16, put up a tent, wear a gas mask and conduct basic security operations in a desert setting. Self Aid Buddy Care is also instructed so that trainees can help administer first aid in case of combat injury. Examples include applying a splint, sealing an open chest wound, administering an anti-chemical attack agent and creating a litter for carrying wounded soldiers.

Obstacle Course

  • At week six, trainees endure a special obstacle course called "The Beast." The Beast simulates a combat experience where airmen will be expected to make quick decisions under fire. Trainees will scale walls, run with guns, and apply hand-to-hand combat skills. Attacks will come from the air and ground, forcing the trainees to use their counter insurgence training. They will also remember how to use the "Wingman" concept of watching over fellow trainees.

Obstacle Course and Air Force Life

  • Academics are also a part of basic training. In fact, trainees must pass an academic test prior to graduation. The test includes elements of Air Force history, identifying aircraft and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In addition to academics, trainees are instructed on Air Force life issues like finances, medical care and what to expect at their first duty stations. Healthy lifestyle skills like proper nutrition and alcohol awareness are also reemphasized so that trainees can maintain their peak performance while serving as airmen.

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  • Photo Credit combat image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com
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