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Phase II: This is known as the "White Phase," or "Gunfighter Phase." For all you "Rambos," out there, you'll have a lot of fun in this phase, as this is where you get to fire weapons and throw grenades. During the three weeks of Phase II, you'll spend most of your time on various ranges. You'll start with basic M16A2 shooting (just try to hit the targets), and move on to farther targets, pop-up targets, grenades, grenade launchers, and more. You'll be surprised at how many different ranges one Army post has.

During the second week, you'll get practice using bayonets (stab, stab, kill, kill), and an introduction to anti-tank weapons and other heavy weapons. You'll also get practice negotiating the obstacle course. This differs some from Air Force Basic, as the obstacle course is more "combat oriented." You'll run the obstacle course carrying your new friend (The M16A2 Rifle). You and your Battle Buddy will also be expected to work as a "team."

Sometime during the third week of Phase II (week six of Basic), you'll note that the Drill Instructors aren't yelling as much as they used to. In fact, at times, they seem almost human. Or, just perhaps you and your platoon are starting to get things right?

Of course, during Phase II, you'll continue daily PT, as well as practice basic drill and ceremonies.

At the end of Phase II, you should be able to shoot straight, and navigate basic combat obstacles. In Phase III, the Army will start putting everything together.

Christmas Exodus

A quick word about a process known as "Exodus." The Army is the only service that completely shuts down its boot camp operations for a 10 day (or so) period at Christmas. The primary reason for "Exodus" is so Drill Sergeants and Basic Training Staff members can spend Christmas with their families. However, this results in a break for basic training recruits. If you are "lucky" enough to be attending Army Boot Camp during the Exodus period, you will be given a choice: (1) You can remain at basic training and be assigned to do details during the 10-day period, or (2) You can take leave and go home. Any leave you take comes out of your leave entitlement (30 days per year). Additionally, you have to pay for your own transportation home and back to basic training at the end of the Exodus period. However, there will be travel representatives available to help you make your flight reservations at the lowest possible cost. One final note: Taking leave during Exodus is not a right. The commander (based on the recommendation from your Drill Sergeant) can deny your Exodus leave, based upon your performance to date. In that case, you will be stuck doing details while everyone (most everyone) is taking leave. See What the Recruiter Never Told You, for more information about military leave.

Phase III: Phase III is the "Blue Phase," or "Warrior Phase." While challenging, this is the most fun you will have during Army Basic Training. During the first week of III, you'll take your final PT Test. If you don't pass, you won't get to go on to the "Field" with the rest of your Platoon (However, with all the physical conditioning you've received by this point, failure on the PT Test is extremely rare). The Final PT Test consists of the Standard Army Annual PT Exam. You'll need to score at least 150 points to pass Basic Training.

Once you complete that final requirement, you'll get to go camping!!!!!! You'll learn how to set up tents, go on night patrols, and perform night operations. You'll learn to appreciate Army Chow Halls, as all your meals in the Field will consist of MREs.

Sometime during your stay in the Field, I can almost guarantee that your platoon will receive "incoming." It's a very good idea (and looks impressive) for the squad leaders and platoon leader to discuss this in advance and assign specific duties. Don't let the Drill Sergeants hear you planning this, however; they are very good at making their own plans to thwart any plans you may devise.

During the second week of Phase III (Week 8 of Basic), you'll culminate the field training experience with a special tactical field exercise. This exercise ties everything you've learned in basic together. The Drill Instructors will advise (and keep you from getting hurt), but tactical decisions will be made by the platoon leaders and squad leaders. While they differ in scenarios, all Army Basic Training Programs include this Final Event. As an example, see Fort Jackson's Victory Forge.

At the end of the Field Event, you'll return to a short, informal ceremony marking your transition from civilian to soldier.

You'll return to Army Basic to spend the final week preparing for the graduation ceremony. Basic training in the Army is designed to lay a foundation for discipline and basic combat. Your real training, however, will begin after basic when you transition to Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

Here's some final words of advice from a recruit who visits our message forum, and was kind enough to share some basic training tips while he was home during Christmas Exodus:

As a final word of wisdom to anyone shipping to Leonard Wood, remember this:

- Vitamin C drops and menthol cough drops taste really, really good....especially after a while of not having anything sweet. If told you can have them, buy a lot of them as soon as you can. They are to trainees what cigarettes are to prisoners.

- Eat all the fatty cakes (desserts) you want at Reception (unless of course you are close to the weight limit). You can eat anything you want there without fear of getting smoked for it. (Editor's Note: The term "smoked" means having to do extra exercise, usually in the form of push ups). In fact, I don't think they are really supposed to smoke you during Reception for anything unless you do something pretty bad. Once you ship down range, you won't even be allowed to look at fatty cakes....and forget about gaterade, powerade, and for sure soda at least until you are out of red phase. The only exception I've seen so far is the day you go to the gas chamber, they will let you eat anything you want (how thoughtful). The day we went to Warrior Tower, they also let us eat fatty cakes because it was one of those days where you don't eat in the chow hall, they bring the food to the training area. I heard it was because the cafeteria people needed to get rid of some of the desserts before Exodus. Depending on your drill sergeants, they might tell you that you can eat anything you want in the chow hall because I think technically they can't really tell you what you can and can't eat (only a doctor can). My drill sergeants simply promised us that if we choose to eat extra calories, they would make sure we burn those same extra calories *hint, hint*. Don't worry, water starts to taste okay after drinking nothing else for a week or two.

- When you eat your first MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) and the drill sergeants tell you to give up the gum that comes with it, just do it. You may think, "no one will know if I take just one little piece." They will probably warn you that they will count all the gum to make sure and trust me, they really will. The senior drill sergeant counted it all himself and we ended up with 4 pieces missing for our company....we all paid dearly for those pieces. As a matter of fact, whenever they tell you they will be counting something or searching for something, best believe them. When we went to the big PX (Post Exchange), they told us they would search us later to make sure we didn't buy anything we weren't supposed to have. As our drill sergeants say, and it turned out to be true, there is always at least one person who doesn't believe.

- The Reception barracks (good ol' 43rd AG) we stayed in have cameras in the hallways, so don't try and sneak around, because the processing NCO in charge will see you and wake the whole bay up by shouting at you over the loudspeaker.

- Last but not least, they have you face the wall when they give you the penicilin shot for a reason....you DO NOT want to see that needle they use for it. I'm not going to sugar coat it, it hurts like hell so just bear with it. If you've ever broken a bone and recall having the doctor give you a shot to numb the area, you might remember that dull, thumping pain....that's what the penicilin shot feels like. Be forewarned though, that initial pain is nothing compared to how your butt cheek is going to feel the next day and the day after. -- Contributed by ARMYDEPPER

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