Basic Training

Basic Training in the Air Force is similar to the other branches of service. The Air Force wants you to learn the "right way" to do things - their way. During basic you can expect a lot of exercise, learning, and stress, but you will also (hopefully) graduate with new found skills, discipline, and mental toughness.

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These articles will hopefully get you ready to undergo that transformation!

What to Do Before You Leave...

By this point, the Air Force already knows that you are capable of learning, because you’re at least a high school graduate, you passed the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), and you impressed your recruiter. You are NOT required to study anything in order to graduate from Basic Training. However, you’ll quickly find out during AFBMT that there is never enough time to get everything done that you’re expected to do. That’s a universal rule of basic training. The more studying you do in advance, the less time you will have to spend “in the books” studying during basic training.
Here are some things you can study in advance to make your life in AFBMT easier:

What to Bring

You’re expected to have certain mandatory items and paperwork upon arrival. Most of what you need can fit into a gym bag or small suitcase. Your recruiter should have given you an official list of what you are allowed to take with you to basic. Stick to this list. One of the first things you’ll experience at Basic Training is a complete search of your personal possessions. Anything not approved will be confiscated and stored until after graduation.

Another reason to pack light is that when you graduate, you will only be allowed three bags (one carry-on and two bags that can be checked). One of those bags will be your duffle bag full of uniforms. The other will be a garment bag to carry your dress uniforms, and the third bag will have the civilian clothes and personal affects you brought with you.

Do Bring

Don’t Bring

Mandatory Items for all Trainees

Male Specific Items

Female Specific Items

Optional Items (Females and Males)

You should also bring enough civilian clothes to last about 3 days. If you wear contacts,
bring your glasses. The training environment is not conducive to contact lens wear.

1If you are allergic to a certain kind of detergent, you may purchase another brand
at your own expense.
2 Trainees who wear glasses or contacts are required to buy eyeglass straps.
3 Do not bring aerosol sprays of any kind.
4 Your feet will be scanned upon arrival to ensure you are issued proper fitting
shoes during processing; therefore, wear one pair on the day you ship to Basic Training.

Paperwork: To complete all of your military records, you will need to bring some items with you to basic training. Better to be safe than sorry, so bring any paperwork you think may be useful during your processing. Below is a list of the minimum documents you should bring if you have them:

Financial Preparation

It’s important to take care of personal matters before you leave. Basic Training is designed to be stressful and you will need to focus all your attention on training.

Check with your recruiter if you have questions or are unsure about how to handle any of the following matters:

What to Expect in Basic Training

Air Force Basic Training lasts 8 1/2 weeks. All new Air Force recruits go through the same basic training: the 737th Training Group, at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas.

While at basic, you’ll do PT six days per week. The six-day-a-week regimen includes three days of aerobic running and three days of muscular endurance training. The runs consist of 40-minute sessions of group-paced running, self-paced running and six 30-second sprint interval runs separated by brisk walking. Each week, trainees are timed on a two-mile run.

The muscular endurance training takes up to 48 minutes on a circuit of crunches, leg lifts, pushups, flutter kicks and pullups. These are designed to improve upper body and abdominal strength quickly.

During the entire period of basic training, recruits are individually timed on the 2-mile run once per week.

Week 0 – Orientation

You will be assigned a Training Instructor (TI) who will give you directions, explain procedures and assign tasks in preparation for your first full week. You receive an initial assessment of your physical fitness (2-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups) during zero week. This assessment aids in identifying recruits who are in poor physical condition.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 1 – Fall In

Your first full week of Basic Training will offer several challenges both physical and mental.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 2 – Basic War Skills

You will begin preparing for your role as a warrior.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 3 – Combat Lifesaving

Knowing what to do, and what not to do, while you’re under enemy fire can save your life and those of your fellow Airmen.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 4 – Countering the Threat

You will learn your role in countering diverse threats to national security, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) weapons.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 5 – Ready to Fight

Continue to learn and evolve as a warrior.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 6 – The Beast

During what is perhaps the most challenging week of you BMT, you will participate in the week-long Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training (BEAST). All of the skills and tactics you have learned will be put to the test in realistic, field training exercises (FTX) and combat scenarios.

Activities and Requirments:

Week 7 – Airmanship

You are evaluated on your airmanship skills and learn important aspects of the Air Force’s history and heritage.

Activities and Requirements:

Week 8 – Graduation

Although your Basic Training experience has come to an end, your journey is just beginning.

Activities and Requirements:

Basic Fitness Test

During initial entry processing, both men and women are required to pass a Physical Fitness test that measures cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance and mobility. The test consists of the two-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups. In addition to initial entry physical fitness requirements, the Air Force has an annual fitness test requiring a passing score in a 1.5-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups.

On the Saturday or Sunday after your arrival, you’ll undergo an initial fitness evaluation. If you fail to meet the standards below, you can expect some additional attention from your T.I. and extra time dedicated to physical training each day. These standards are the MINIMUM recommended for when you FIRST ARRIVE at basic training. They are not the graduation standards. Air Force officials highly recommend you be able to meet the minimum fitness standards when you arrive at basic.



When doing push-ups and sit-ups, proper form is essential - both to prevent injury and to reap full benefit of the exercise. There are NO "girl push-ups" - all exercises must be done with proper form in order to count!

Push-Ups: To complete a push-up, assume the front leaning rest position with your arms shoulder width apart, feet together or up to 12 inches apart and body forming a generally straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Keeping your head up, lower your body.

Sit-Ups: When practicing sit-ups, lay on your back with your feet together or up to 12 inches apart, knees bent at 90-degree angle with a spotter holding your feet at the ankles. Place your arms crossed over the chest with your hands at the shoulders or resting at the upper chest. Bring your upper body forward until your elbows touch your knees or upper thigh. Lower your back until your shoulder blades touch the ground.

Running: You can build up your running ability by starting out at a slow pace for 15 to 20 minutes. To ensure a smooth transition into the BMT fitness program, your goal should be a continuous 30 to 40 minute run 3-5 times a week. Consistency is the key. Make a schedule and stick to it.

The final fitness test in Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT) is done during the end of the seventh week of training, and consists of the same four exercises that you've been doing for weeks. Here are the different graduation standards for men and women:

Air Force Basic Training Physical Fitness Graduation Requirements

Male Fitness Requirements

Run (1.5 miles)
Push-Ups (1 minute)
Sit-Ups (1 minute)
Pull-Ups (no time limit)

Liberator (minimum graduation standards)

Thunderbolt (honor graduate minimum standards)

Warhawk (highest standard)

Female Female Fitness Requirements

Run (1.5 miles)
Push-Ups (1 minute)
Sit-Ups (1 minute)
Pull-Ups (no time limit)

Liberator (minimum graduation standards)

Thunderbolt (honor graduate minimum standards)

Warhawk (highest standard)

Those who fail the final PT evaluation, but were really close, are usually given one more opportunity to pass it the next day. Failure almost always means getting “recycled” for a couple of weeks to an earlier flight, thereby giving the recruit more time to get into shape.


By the eighth and final week of training, you will have earned the privilege of wearing your blue uniform and will stand out as a proud member of the United States Air Force. Graduation week includes receiving your Airman’s Coins, practicing for retreat and parade, attending briefings to prepare you for technical training, participating in the Airman’s Run, and enjoying base liberty and town pass with your friends and family.

But first, in order to graduate from Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT), you must pass a physical fitness test and a couple of written tests.

Physical Fitness Test
The PT test will consist of four parts. You will have one minute to complete as many push-ups as possible, one minute to complete as many sit-ups as possible, a timed 1.5 mile run, and no time limit to complete as many pull-ups as possible (although none are required to graduate). Click on the link above for a more detailed breakdown of the graduation requirements.

Written Tests
You will take several written tests and quizzes in basic training, but the ones that count the most are the two final tests.
Each test is 100 questions and you must score a minimum of 70 percent to pass. In order to qualify as a possible honor graduate, you must score over 90 percent on each test. The tests cover everything you’ve learned during your stay in Air Force basic training.

During graduation week of Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT), if you enlisted under the guaranteed aptitude program, and you met with an Air Force job counselor during week two, you’ll find out what military job the Air Force has selected for you.
You’ll also receive briefings about what to expect at Air Force technical school. You will outprocess from Air Force basic on the Monday morning after your graduation, and you will proceed to your Air Force technical school location on the same day.

Your flight will be evaluated on almost everything you learn from dormitory inspections to fitness results. The very best flights will be awarded the title of “honor flight.” It takes teamwork, dedication and a lot of hard work to get this award!
Individuals are also recognized for their excellence as an “Honor Graduate” – a privilege reserved only for the top 10% of all trainees. The Commander of Basic Military Training will congratulate you in a special ceremony attended by families and friends. You can also earn an additional town pass for being the most physically fit Airman.
In addition to the Honor Graduate Ribbon, Airmen can earn other ribbons to wear on their uniform, such as the Small Arms Marksmanship Ribbon for superior performance on the rifle range. ALL graduates are awarded the Air Force Training Ribbon upon completion of Basic Military Training. The National Defense Service Medal is awarded for all military members who perform honorable active duty service as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Airman’s Coin Ceremony
After completing field training, you’ll earn the right to be called “Airman” and will receive your “Airman’s Coin” at the Airman’s Coin Ceremony – one of the most significant events in the life of any Airman.

Retreat Ceremony
On Thursday of graduation week, you’ll perform Retreat – a time honored tradition that signifies the end of the duty day and allows us to pay respect to the US Flag. The flag will be lowered, ceremoniously folded and honored by the week’s graduating Airmen. Family and friends are welcome to attend!

Parade Ceremony
This is by far the most memorable and emotional moment in basic training. Graduating Airmen march in parade viewed by family, friends and distinguished visitors. The ceremony ends with Airmen reciting the oath of enlistment. Immediately following graduation, Airmen are released for base liberty to take their visitors on an open house visit to their dormitories and to spend the rest of the day with them.