How to Survive Air Force Basic Training

It isn't all fun and glamor; it isn't all just about flying space ships. There is a lot of training, examinations, orders to follow and constrictions that may just surprise your socks off. Here are some tips to try to make your first months of air force time a little more bearable.


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    Be quiet. Despite how brash this step may sound, it is actually very practical. Unless they ask you something, be quiet as a mouse.
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    Follow orders to the letter. If they say "This is how you make a bed", then that's the way that you make it. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts—they will be noticed, and you will probably be forced to start over, being told to follow the instructions word-for-word.
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    Take amazing notes and always study. You may not realize it, but a lot of time is spent in the class room. It is all important and will be crucial in your Air Force career.
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    Be prepared to run fast and push your body to its limits. You will be sore and you will more than likely feel like giving up.
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    Try to be in decent shape before you depart for basic training. If you can't do the requirements when the time comes, you will be held in a Flight that does Physical Training 3 times a day and eats on a diet and not many make it out of the 319th. Be able to do 40-50 push ups in one go, 50-60 sit-ups, and to run a mile in about 8 minutes depending on your age and gender (8 minutes is more common for a male).
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    Expect to change as an overall individual. Don't be surprised when your spouse/significant other tells you.
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    Take pride in what you are doing. Even though the Instructors may tell you that you are doing a horrible job, remember that you have taken on a challenge that would leave most 6'4" 250 lb tough guys peeing in their pants.
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    Adapt your perspective to a situation accordingly. Look at it as a game when it is a game. Look at it as real when it's real. If you are practicing a scenario that involves saving a life, then put yourself on a line—even if it is just a practice scenario. Act as though the person's life did depend on it—one day, it just might. On the other hand, if it is something that is off the wall, basically a "do cause I say so", then look at it as a game. It more than likely is.
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    If you ever feel like giving up, remember this is only 8 and a half weeks that is changing your life for the better. You may think going back home is the answer, but 99% of the time you will appreciate it if you stick it out, and you will regret giving up. You will know the feeling when you are holding that Airman's Coin and leaving Lackland.


  • Be able to eat a meal in 2-3 minutes. You won't be given much time otherwise.
  • Try not to make enemies. It is tough to live with 60 other people for 8 and a half weeks, but it will be much easier with the least amount of confrontation.
  • Be able to shower in 2 or less minutes.
  • Learn the ranks of the military.
  • Know the basics of marching.
  • Your reporting statement is your religion. Study it, learn it, live it. It will be a second nature after a couple weeks but its better to master it early on. "Sir/Ma'am, Trainee Smith reports as ordered!"
  • Be able to distinguish what you are "technically" allowed to do and what you most likely should not, given the circumstances.
  • Be able to drink a lot water or Gatorade (depending on squadron.)
  • Be able to adapt to a lifestyle with little to no sleep.
  • Learn how to shine shoes/boots.
  • These are things that you should remember not to bring:
    • Condoms. This is self-explanatory.
    • Food. You'll only lose it, later.
    • Anything non-essential. If you have to ask, then chances are, you don't need it.
    • Any sort of reading material (besides religious works such as the Bible, Koran, Torah, etc.)


  • Don't bother with looking for a significant other. It will only lead to trouble. You can do this after basic and advanced training.
  • Don't bring back food from chow, or KP (Kitchen Patrol). You may not get caught red-handed, but someone will find out and you will get busted. This includes everything from Pop-Tarts, all the way down to packets of honey and peanut butter.
  • Don't make a "Sir/Ma'am" Sandwich. Meaning do not say "Sir/Ma'am, Trainee Smith reports as ordered, Sir/Ma'am!". You will regret it a lot.

Things You'll Need

  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • razor blade or other hygienic items (remember airport security pack them in checked baggage)
  • shampoo/body wash
  • 3 days worth of civilian clothes
  • make sure all items are brand new or you will end up polishing them.
  • possibly a picture or two of loved ones

Article Info

Categories: Careers in the Military