Air Force Basic Military Training: Week-By-Week Explanation

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 15, 2022 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated September 15, 2022

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An illustration of a person in a military uniform pointing to a large calendar beside them.

The U.S. Air Force basic military training program (AFBMT) transforms recruits into professional service members ready to serve the nation. This transformation is physically and mentally demanding and challenges aspiring Air Force members to become the best version of themselves. Understanding what to expect and what the training entails can help you succeed in becoming a member of this military branch.

In this article, we provide a description of each week of Air Force basic training and offer tips to help you prepare for boot camp.

How long is Air Force basic training?

AFBMT is eight and a half weeks long. Here is a summary of what you can expect during each week of boot camp:

Week 0

Week 0 starts with health screenings and the distribution of essential items for basic training. You receive combat boots, a pair of sweatpants, leather gloves, a duffel bag, running shoes, wool and cotton socks, two towels, two T-shirts and a sweatshirt. You also get your Air Force-approved haircut.

The Air Force assigns you a military training instructor to guide you through your training during the next eight and a half weeks. Some other activities you might experience during this week of training include:

  • Initial phone call to family and friends

  • Immunizations and blood draws

  • Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) education

  • Drill basics

  • Health, morale and welfare discussions

  • Physical training

Related: Joining the U.S. Air Force: What You Need To Know About Enlistment

Week 1

The first week challenges you physically and mentally to prepare you for the training in the weeks to come. You undergo a physical evaluation, including dental and medical tests. Then, you learn the basics of Air Force life, including how to report for duty and salute, entry control procedures, parts identification, fitness and nutrition, cultural sensitivity and human relations.

You also learn about classroom procedures and educational opportunities, including the Air Force's suicide awareness and prevention program. Your immunizations, weapons and ID card also take place during this week. Some other events happening this week include:

  • Initial physical training test

  • Chapel guide meeting

  • Air Force rank insignia recognition

  • Dress and appearance education

Related: Best Jobs in the U.S. Air Force

Week 2

The second week teaches you about the Air Force's history and heritage. Courses also cover basic situational awareness and cyber awareness.

You train on weapon handling and maintenance, as well as complete fitness. Marching and drill position training continues during this week as well. Some other activities to expect during this week include:

  • Career guidance meetings

  • Possession of arms education

  • Dress and appearance progress checks

  • Open ranks inspection

Related: U.S. Air Force Physical Fitness Requirements

Week 3

The third week's focus is to prepare you for combat and further develop your character and leadership skills. It incorporates flight drills and parade marching that use later on during your training.

You also learn anti-terrorism techniques and the rules of armed conflict. Another big event happening this week is your second clothing issue where you get your combat boots and more essential items.

The third week also includes job classification interviews. During this process, you sit with a job counselor to review a list of available jobs for which you qualify. This gives you an opportunity to rank the jobs you qualify for according to your preference, which can increase the likelihood of you securing this position upon graduation. If you already signed a contract for a specific role, you can use this opportunity to ask more questions about the career field.

Related: Career Paths in the Air Force

Week 4

Your classroom and physical training continue in the fourth week when you learn about financial readiness and environmental awareness. There are additional debriefings happening this week to discuss:

  • Real airman responsibilities

  • Career progression

  • Military citizenship

  • Anti-terrorism

  • Force protection

  • Sexual assault prevention and reporting (SAPR)

  • Air Force quality of life

Related: The Most In-Demand U.S. Air Force Jobs

Week 5

The fifth week is heavy with combative training and hinges on the introduction to Air Force combative methods and the mental preparation for combat. You explore the ethos of the warrior while undergoing progress checks for weapons training and drills.

Other topics discussed during this week of training include the law of armed conflict, first aid principles and stress recovery. Here are some other key events that happen during the fifth week of training:

  • Second boot issue

  • Individual portraits

  • Flight photos

  • Living area progress checks

  • Drill progress checks

  • Military skills development progress check

Related: 12 Military Skills To Put On a Resume for Any Job

Week 6

During the sixth week, you complete your physical fitness evaluation and sit for academic written tests. You also learn how to respond to and defend against a chemical, radioactive, nuclear or biological attack and complete your foundational expeditionary skills training.

Discussions on professional competence, leadership and career guidance are also held during this week. This week also involves a hometown news release that informs your family and friends about your upcoming Air Force graduation.

Related: U.S. Air Force Reserve Physical Requirements

Week 7

The seventh week is considered the most challenging week of AFBMT. You refine your skills through several rigorous field training exercises and combat scenarios designed to push you to your limits.

The most infamous is the BEAST, or basic expeditionary airman skills training, from which this strenuous week gets its nickname. Key activities that happen during this week include:

  • Combat arms training and maintenance (CATM)

  • Pugil sticks lessons and application

  • Field exercises

  • Deployment line processing

  • Refresher drills

  • Zone tear down

  • Remediation training

  • Equipment turn-in

Related: 11 of the Highest-Paying Air Force Jobs

Week 8

The final week is one of celebration. Your family and friends are welcome on base for the coin ceremony, parade and graduation ceremony. The week kicks off with a 1.5-mile run that celebrates the victory of all recruits over the challenges of training.

During the coin ceremony, you receive your “Airman's Coin,” the official sign of your transition from recruit to a service member. The week culminates with graduation and a dress parade with base liberty, an open house and town pass issuance happening shortly after.

Related: Which U.S. Military Branch Pays the Most?

Tips to prepare for Air Force boot camp

Here are some things you can do to prepare for AFBMT:

  • Study in advance. You can learn about military time, the chain of command and basic military information such as ranks, orders of the sentry and history by researching and studying before basic training to be more prepared. This can you excel during your training tests and help you later in your Air Force career. 

  • Get in shape. Start your physical preparation several months before basic training. If you are already physically fit, you're more likely to pass the tests without injuries. It's a good idea to include running, backpacking and calisthenics in your training program.

  • Talk to your family. It's important to discuss the AFBMT process with your family and friends, including how to contact you in case of emergencies. During training, you have limited access to your mobile phone or other contact methods, so it's important for your family to understand how to contact the Red Cross to inform you of any emergencies.

  • Choose your correspondent. You can send a pre-printed postcard to only one person, who can disperse any news you want to share with your loved ones. This helps your friends and family learn about your upcoming graduation and accomplishments from BMT.

  • Pack lightly. Pack for training as lightly as possible because soon after your arrival, you get your uniform and military clothing issuance. Some essential items to bring with you include your college transcripts, driver's license, social security card, glasses or contact lenses, hygiene supplies and prescriptions.

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