Army Times reports,

The Army is overhauling its basic training to help recruits survive the particular dangers of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The changes add or beef up instruction on skills that include traveling in convoys and fighting in cities.

The program begins this month and will be in use at all basic training installations by spring.

The changes are some of the biggest since the Vietnam War, says Col. William Gallagher, who helped devise them.


Among the changes the Army is making:

– More weapons training. Recruits will be taught to fire weapons other than the M-16, the standard rifle for foot soldiers. New troops will learn how to fire other weapons, including a variety of machine guns.

– New training on how to identify and counter remote-controlled bombs known as IEDs, or improvised explosive devices. Those bombs have killed dozens of soldiers in Iraq.

– Convoy tactics. For the first time, recruits will ride in convoys and face simulated ambushes. They will learn how to place sandbags inside vehicles to protect against bombs, grenades and machine guns.

– Urban combat. Soldiers will learn tactics for fighting enemies who blend in with civilians.

– Increased first-aid training. Officials say it is important for all soldiers to have better lifesaving skills, because troops are traveling in smaller groups and can be ambushed without a medic or doctor nearby.

The added lessons will not lengthen basic training, but recruits will drill more frequently on Sundays, traditionally a light training day.

Intriguing. These were typically NCO-level tasks and things learned on the job. But it makes sense to get them trained from the get-go.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Our troops *weren’t* getting this training? How could they.. ugh. I guess I understand a little better why we have the continuous attrition of troops in Iraq, now. What pride is there in fighting a battle when no one deemed it necessary to train you to fight it properly?

    Thanks for pointing this out.

  2. James Joyner says:


    It takes the military a while to change, especially huge, entrenched programs like Basic Training. Troops always learned to fire their weapon, basic first aid, and such. But the more advanced skills above were either learned at Advanced Individual Training (a follow-on course between Basic and going to their first assignment) or at the unit IF APPROPRIATE TO THEIR SKILL SPECIALTY.