What is the purpose of Basic Cadet Training (BCT)?
The six-week BCT program tests your mental and physical abilities and helps you make the transition from civilian to military life. You’ll develop alertness, physical endurance, emotional stability, self-reliance and individual initiative. You’ll be subjected to rigorous discipline, attention to detail and punctuality. This training lays the foundation to become leaders of character—which is why you’re here.
What type of training does BCT include?
BCT consists of two phases, both administered by upper-class cadets with commissioned and noncommissioned officers serving as advisors. The program is supervised by the Commandant of Cadets, who is an Air Force Brigadier General. The first phase of BCT (1st BCT or “First Beast”) takes place in the cadet area and is devoted to military orientation programs. Emphasis is placed on learning basic military skills and responsibilities, improving physical conditioning and adapting to teamwork through competitive sports. The second phase of BCT (2nd BCT or “Second Beast”) consists primarily of field training activities conducted at the Jacks Valley encampment site, five miles north of the cadet area. You’ll march to the campsite, erect a tent city and live there for 18 days while in training. These activities expand your military orientation, teach you weapons skills and develop your physical and mental confidence through challenging obstacles. This training demands the utmost in stamina, determination and resourcefulness. More specific information on BCT is contained in the brochure, “The Academy Experience,” which we provide to candidates selected for admission.
How can I feel assured that I am physically prepared for BCT?
The cadet appointee kit includes specific instructions on physical preparation by the director of athletics. You should follow the instructions by establishing a daily aerobic workout of 30 minutes, without overtaxing or straining yourself. The Cadet Fourth-Class Council has also prepared the following advice: “Looking back on how we could have better prepared ourselves for entrance to the Academy, physical conditioning stands out, first of all. The everyday strenuous conditioning activities can become discouraging and tiring if you’re not in shape. If you can accomplish the 30-minute daily workout, which includes running at least two miles and performing the other aerobic activities, you should be prepared for the physical demands that will be placed upon you. However, if you have not met all of the recommended standards before arrival, you will have the opportunity to increase your physical abilities in order to keep pace with your classmates.” Blisters and tendonitis are experienced frequently by basic cadets. It is very important that your shoes and combat boots are properly fitted to provide comfort.
Do new cadets enter the BCT program immediately upon entering the Academy?
Yes. The first day is devoted to in-processing, which includes clothing issue, room and squadron assignments, completing forms, a medical review and a swearing-in ceremony. You will be asked to take the Oath of Allegiance to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully discharge your duties as a cadet. If your parents come with you, they may want to stay for the public swearing-in ceremony on the second day.
Will I be tested on my physical condition when I enter the Academy?
Yes. During the fifth week of BCT, two tests will be given to measure your physical fitness and endurance. The physical fitness test areas are pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, standing long jump and a 600-yard run. The aerobics test is a 1.5-mile run. These initial tests gauge basic cadet fitness, but there is time to increase scores over the course of BCT. If a cadet’s scores are still too low upon entering the cadet wing at the conclusion of BCT, there are programs that help increase test performance.
Why is it necessary for basic cadets to have their hair cut short?
Basic Cadet Training is the transition from civilian to military life. Part of that transition is the uniformity of hair standards for the basic cadets. The rigors of BCT put great demands on personal hygiene. The time allocated for personal hygiene needs to be maximized, and short hair helps. Women are not required to cut their hair as long as they are able to secure it in a manner that prevents it from falling in their faces, obstructing vision or touching their collars. It must present a neat, professional appearance at all times. The time requirement for a woman to get her hair within standards is two minutes. Following BCT, hair can be cut and styled in the cadet barber or beauty shops.
I’ve heard basic cadets referred to as Doolies. What does this mean?
This is a term adopted by the Academy’s first cadet class, the Class of 1959, when they were in BCT. Doolie is a derivative of the Greek word “doulos,” which means “subject.” The colloquial term is used to refer to cadets in their freshman year by most graduates and outsiders, but the cadets themselves do not typically use it.
Do basic cadets have any free time?
Yes, but very little. Cadets rise as early as 5:15 a.m., release from quarters and go to bed no later than 11:00 p.m. (taps). However, sufficient time for relaxation is built into the daily schedule. Each evening there is time to shower and attend to personal hygiene. In addition, time is available, just before taps (the last bugle call before lights out), to study, write letters or rest. Adequate time is allowed for sleep, meals, breaks and religious worship.
If I have problems adjusting to cadet life, can I seek help?
If you experience adjustment problems, you will be encouraged to seek assistance from counseling sources. Professionally trained officers at Peak Performance Center (PPC) are always available, as well as upper-class cadets designated for this purpose in each squadron.
What happens after Basic Cadet Training is completed?
The Acceptance Parade, with the entire cadet wing participating, marks the completion of BCT. You’ll receive your cadet shoulder boards and become a member of the cadet wing, and you can truthfully say to yourself, “Well done! The challenges stimulated me to achieve a goal and to perform beyond my own expectations!” Next, you’ll enter the fourth-class academic year which extends through May, during which you will take a rigorous schedule of classes and live under the Officer Development System.