how hard is air force basic training
Air Force

How Hard Is Air Force Basic Training?

I have been in the United States Air Force for roughly five years and I still distinctly remember the events of Military Basic Training held at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

Military Basic Training in the Air Force has a specific goal of breaking an individual down and building them back up.

Specifically, the program is designed to instill discipline while learning about the Air Force culture, history and mission.

A typical day at Air Force basic training

The Military Basic Training program can be viewed as a mentally, physically and emotionally strenuous program that is used to prepare future airmen for the lifestyle they will encounter while serving their respective contracts in either the Air Force Reserve, National Guard or active duty Air Force.

Related Article: Does The National Guard Pay For College?

All enlisted airmen that currently serve in the United States Air Force started in the gateway to airpower at Lackland Air Force Base.

Air Force basic training instructor

If someone is looking to join the Air Force and they are wondering what they should do to prepare them for what the training entails they should read below.

The physical fitness portion which is the aspect that most people struggle with is actually quite simple.

You are required to complete a 1.5 mile run, complete a set amount of pushups and sit-ups within a minute and have your waist measured.

It’s called the Air Force PT Test, and it’s required for all incoming airman to prove they have the physical ability to complete the job.

Outside of that, one can practice waking up early, eating right and focusing on a specific task.

Much of the information you will learn here should be given by your recruiter after entering the Delayed Entry Program or DEP but if you are looking to get a leg up, here is what Air Force Basic Military Training entails.

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Pre-Basic Training

Zero Week

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8
Frequently Asked Questions

How much are you paid during basic?

How long is basic training?

Is it possible to fail?

Is it hard for women?


Air Force Basic Training Overview

There are currently eight and a half weeks of training during which you will spend time in the classroom, practicing drill, physical fitness activities and some mild field training.

After landing in San Antonio, all new troops are congregated as they wait for transportation to the actual base itself.

This is generally the time you are given the opportunity to make your final phone calls to assure your loved ones that you have arrived safely.

Related Article: How Hard Is Army Basic Training?

After leaving the airport, you will be brought to a briefing room to be assigned Military Training Instructors and living quarters or dorms.

This process can be considered as a hurry up and wait forum because you are rushed to take your bags with you everywhere you go.

After arriving to your dorm you are sent to sleep quickly to begin with Week 1 of training the following morning.

Zero Week

Zero week of training consists of, in processing, drug testing, uniform and equipment issue and duty assignments. There are many duty assignments within a flight which range from Dorm leader, to shoe aligner.

Air Force recruits awaiting in-processing. Image:

To give a brief understanding of how all of this works, a Dorm leader is in charge of the whole flight and can be considered as the single point of contact when an MTI would like to funnel information to the flight or schedule appointment times for the flight to be ready to proceed.

Also, in this week males trainees are shaved bald, and all trainees are taught basic functions of drill movements.

Drill is a tradition that is long kept within all branches of the United States Armed Forces as a way to conduct movements, foster discipline and bring unity to the brothers in arms.

Lastly, zero week is where you are explained the most basic dos and don’ts of basic training.

However, you are not expected to know everything as it will be taught to you along the way.

Week 1

Week 1 of training, also known as “sneaker weeker”, is a time when trainees wear their military uniforms with no insignia or name types and have yet to be issued boots.

Air Force Sneaker Weeker. Image:

As you are imagining, it is a week in which you wear sneakers with the most basic uniform.

You get more uniform items as you move forward with training.

Also during this week, you are taught the most basic Law of Armed Conflict which is how military members are to conduct themselves legally in wartime.

Moreover, you complete your baseline physical fitness screening and receive your Common Access Card or military ID card.

Lastly, you are given shots, go to the dentist and receive your weapons.

Week 2

Week 2 is normally when it starts to get fun from the perspective of military training instructors.

At this time, you are trained on how to keep the dorm, how your bed should be made and how your wall locker should be arranged down to the slightest detail.

Air Force basic training recruits receive instructions. Image:

You are then taught more advanced drill techniques and how to take care of your personal appearance and physical fitness.

Related ArticleAir Force Grooming Standards: Haircuts, Mustaches, Beards, And More

The information taught during week 2 is what you should know to abide by the regulations of military bearing and appearance.

Week 3

During the third week of training, those members with security clearance requirements based on their respective jobs are interviewed with the hopes of having a completed investigation by the time they are done with technical training.

Air Force basic training recruits in classroom training. Image:

You are taught about military leadership and how to conduct yourself as an airman in the presence of those individuals.

You are taught tradition along with customs and courtesies that will ensure there is good order and discipline and finally you are taught about how to cope with mental stress in adversity.

Week 4

Week 4 of basic military training consists of the obstacle course which is a fun way to see how all of the physical training has paid off as well as the nuclear, biological, and chemical training.

You are given courses about security factors within the military and given your second set of clothing which is your dress blue uniform.

Week 5

Week 5 of BMT teaches trainees mental preparation and the code of conduct in and out of combative situations. Your marching and drill skills are sharpened in preparation for your graduation and you are required to shoot and qualify on the generic military assault rifle.

Week 6

Week 6 prepares you for the BEAST or Basic Expeditionary Application Skills Training week.

Beast Week in Air Force basic training. Image:

During this week, you are prepared for a mock deployment and sent out to a location near Lackland in which you are trained in the current combat environment that we currently are serving in.

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You will live in tents, keep your weapon with you and train through different scenarios that test the combat skills taught in the classroom throughout your training experience.

During the day you will eat MREs or Meals Ready to Eat and at night you will receive one hot meal in order to balance your caloric intake.

During this week, you will usually take part in the infamous gas chamber where you are shown what it feels like to be in a situation where you are gassed and in distress.

Week 7

Week 7, after the BEAST week you return back to your normal dorm and taught the final training needed to be successful in the Air Force.

You will take your final physical fitness test as well as an End of Course test that will examine how well you retained the information you have learned throughout the course.

Week 8

The final week, Week 8 you will go through what you have learned in the drill and marching sequences and graduate in front of your loved ones.

Air Force basic training graduation. Image:

During this week, you receive an Airman’s coin that is only given to those that successfully complete Air Force Basic Military Training.

After graduation you will then be allowed to go out on the town with family and wear your dress blue uniform.

If there are any events going on in the immediate area, you are given the opportunity to pay a discounted price to spend time and see what San Antonio has to offer.

After the festivities are over, you are sent to your next duty location which is wherever your technical training is located.

At this point you will learn what your specific job within the Air Force is in a less strict training environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much are you paid during basic?

Your pay during basic training is based on your current marital or dependency situation.

If you are a single airmen like myself and signed for a 6 year enlistment, you will receive roughly $2700.00 total for the 8 weeks.

Related Article: Air Force Ranks And Pay

Your meals and uniform costs are deducted from your paycheck and you will be able to tap into some of your pay during training for incidentals and toiletries required for subsistence.

If you are married or have children, you will be paid Basic Allowance for Housing for wherever they are located while you are in training which will most likely be your home of record.

The amount you receive is based on the cost of living for the area and ranges.

Check out our BAH calculator here.

How long is basic training?

Basic training is 8.5 weeks as long as you go through all your training in the prescribed amount of time.

You can be washed back if your instructors feel like you are not ready for the next step in training.

This will ultimately place you in a flight that started basic a week before you and will add a week to your total time in basic.

Is it possible to fail?  If so, how / what is the likely way?

Yes, it is possible to fail basic training or be removed from the training environment for many reasons.

One of the most common reasons is medical issues that prevent you from safely completing training.

When this happens you are medically separated from the Air Force but depending on how long you serve, you may still be entitled to some of your veteran benefits.

Also, similar to any other training program.

You can be separated based on an inability to properly complete your prescribed tasks also known as a failure to adapt to military culture.

Lastly, you can be administratively separated from the training environment if you break the law or Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The major instances when this would happen are explained to you during in processing to ensure all trainees are aware of what is expected and what acts will not be tolerated.

Is it hard for women?

Basic training can be hard for anyone that is not ready for the military level of discipline required.

The physical fitness requirements for men and women do differ in the aspect of the fact that scientifically men and women do not perform the same.

The guidelines that are set are not in place for you to fail.

The basic training program is designed for everyone to be able to pass.

In most cases, female flights will have female military training instructors that understand the female body and can better deal with female mentalities.

Remember, every enlisted woman serving in the Air Force had to complete basic training.

Men and women go to their educational courses and BEAST week together but they do not have the same physical fitness testing standards.


In conclusion, Air Force Basic Military training is in place to ensure all applicants wishing to join the ranks have the discipline and the understanding to serve within the culture.

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Everything you are taught in basic training is to help you better conduct yourself in a professional military environment and even if you don’t make the Air Force a career, you are able to take what you have learned into the civilian world due to the level of professionalism displayed by military members.

You are taught how to take care of yourself and others in all aspects of your life.

You will conduct Professional Military Education throughout your military career which expounds on things learned in Basic Training.

Rob V.
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Air Force Basic Training

Air Force Basic Training

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Find out what Air Force basic training is like, including how difficult it is, what happens from start to finish, and other frequently asked questions.

Originally posted on February 21, 2019 @ 5:41 pm

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One Reply to “How Hard Is Air Force Basic Training?

  1. Recruits have it easier today than when I was in. We had to learn in 6 weeks that now takes them 8- 8.5 weeks. I was in under the delayed enlistment program and started out at $127.50 for my 1st month. Later, as an E-5, married with 2kids, I still qualified for food stamp. A year of my first enlistment was handling bombs to be dropped in Vietnam. Still, I had time ( made time ) to earn college credits. Bottom line, it’s your best times and your worst times rolled into one. No real regrets !

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