Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) is a ten-week training program to introduce and prepare soldiers for Army life. BCT includes training in marksmanship and weapons, physical fitness and teamwork. After completing BCT, soldiers attend Advanced Individual Training where they learn the skills needed for their specific job within the Army. Army soldiers enjoy base pay and benefits while completing BCT.
Who Attends Basic Training?
Most soldiers entering the U.S. Army are required to attend Basic Combat Training. Soldiers who enter the Army through the Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) are not required to attend basic training. They attend leadership and military courses in addition to college classes and a Leader's Training Course. Graduates of West Point Military Academy do not have to attend BCT. Finally, officers who enter the Army under direct commission in a specialized field such as medicine or law do not attend BCT.
Soldiers receive basic pay based on their pay grade. Most soldiers enlist at the E-1 pay grade and may be promoted up to the E-10 pay grade, or they may advance to become an officer during their careers. As of 2011, soldiers at the E-1 pay grade with less than four months of service receive $1,357 per month. After soldiers graduate from BCT and gain more than four months of experience, they earn $1,467 per month.
Since soldiers will be living and eating on base during basic training, they do not receive Basic Allowance for Subsistence or Basic Allowance for Housing, for which they may be eligible after BCT. However, soldiers do receive many benefits, including health care coverage with TRICARE, a policy with Soldier’s Group Life Insurance and the accrual of vacation time. Soldiers may also receive an enlistment bonus up to $40,000.
Army reserve soldiers in Basic Combat Training receive the same pay as active-duty soldiers because they are serving full-time duty. After training is complete, reserve soldiers revert back to a schedule of drilling one weekend per month plus two full weeks per year. At this point, reserve soldiers receive reserve pay based upon their pay grade. As of 2011, soldiers at the E-1 pay grade receive $181 in drill pay.