BCT Vs AIT – What’s the difference

A few people have asked lately what the difference between BCT, which stands for Basic Combat Training and AIT, which stands for Advanced Individual Training is. To answer that, I'm going to give you a very standard definition of each.

Then, I'm hoping that people that have experience both BCT and AIT will chime in the comments and share some of their insights and experience which is really what we're looking for right? The scoop on what happens at AIT and BCT at Fort Leonard Wood.

BCT - Basic Combat Training - Fort Leonard Wood
Basic Combat Training which is often shortened and referred to as BCT is the 10 week course that every soldier undertakes that teaches them how to be a soldier in the United States Army. During Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood soldiers will undergo intense physical and mental training.



AIT - Advanced Individual Training - Fort Leonard Wood

This is where soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood learn their trades. For instance, if you're going to be an MP you're getting your training to work in the Army as a military police officer.

There are three major fields taught at Fort Leonard Wood:

  • Chemical (CBRN)
  • Engineer
  • Military Police

Most soldiers report that AIT is a lot more relaxed than Basic Training, and for the most part, soldiers in chemical school are given a lot more privileges than they were in Basic Training, for instance, soldiers are generally allowed possession of their phones, and laptops. They may also be given daytime passes on weekends and allowed to wear civilian clothing (which is a BIG deal) during their off time.

It's been reported however that this isn't always the same in other schools on Fort Leonard Wood, including Military Police school. Have a point of view or insight to offer, please comment below!

Red Phase

Red Phase

This is the initial phase of basic training, it's also considered to be the hardest part of the entire course. Soldiers generally arrive on base and then head to reception where their paperwork and loose ends are taken care of. Then they're picked up by their units. As they come off the buses, they're treated to what's called a shark attack.

If you're not familiar with the term shark attack, check out the You Tube video on this page of a Fort Leonard Wood Shark Attack. If nothing else, this event will acclimate the soldiers to a change in environment. The idea is that all available drill sergeants greet the new soldiers in training as they come off of the bus and they well.. attack. We'll be adding an article very soon about preparing for Army Shark Attacks, if you have any advice or insight into that, please comment here so that we can quote you or add your thoughts into that article.

Throughout 'red phase' soldiers will receive their ACU's, get their hair cut (it's a REALLY good idea to get that done before you arrive!) and begin physical training. Soldiers will go through the gas chamber, which we've discussed a little bit here on the site, and will likely delve into further as time passes. If you're unfamiliar with that, and you're headed to BCT at Fort Leonard Wood, or anywhere else really, open up a notepad on your computer, and make a note to Google Army Basic Training Gas Chamber, and watch some video's on You Tube.

The gas chamber is a really scary part of basic combat training, unless you've studied, and prepared mentally for it, then... it's a few minutes out of your life, and a helluva runny nose.

Soldiers will also visit the confidence course, where they will practice team building, rappel from a tower (which is pretty darn cool, if you can overcome any fear of heights, this is a good one to practice before arriving if you're able.)

During red phase, soldiers at Basic Training will also learn a lot about the army. They'll also learn a lot about physical fitness, all recruits will have to pass a physical training assessment to pass Basic Training, so that's a big part of it.

So to wrap, soldiers in red phase will learn Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence in Basic Training. They'll also learn Landmine defense, and rappelling.

Basic Tactical training begins followed by Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defense, Landmine Defense and rappelling at the confidence tower. They'll undergo plenty of physical fitness training, and be given all that they need to survive BCT.

White Phase

During White phase, recruits begin to learn about, and fire their weapons during Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM). Soldiers will fire M16 rifle's, throw grenades, and use a grenade launcher. Most soldiers say that BCT is a lot easier once they've graduated from White Phase, some say white phase is harder than red.


Blue Phase

During Blue phase, soldiers in training will participate in a Night Infiltration Course and a Tactical Foot March. There's A LOT of focus on physical fitness at this point as soldiers that do not pass the physical fitness test will be held over and may go through BCT again.

My Soldier at BCT – Week 3

If you’ve been following along, I’m an Army Mom. A cryin’ ass, weepin’ teary eyed Army Mom.

My daughters in week 3 of Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, and I miss her guts! I’m going to share with you where you can buy a funny Army mom T-shirt, where you can find hundreds (literally hundreds!) of pictures of soldiers in BCT at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and because when my daughter called to tell me the score she got, I wanted to know what it meant, i’ll share with you what I learned when I was looking up the levels of Marksmanship in the Army.

During her 3rd week at Fort Leonard Wood my daughter and the other soldiers in her unit  got their first shot at firing live rounds on the range. The exercise from what I understand is called Grouping and Zeroing. The SIT’s will be shooting at a target that’s 25 miles away. This week’s for refining shooting skills, building confidence, and well, shootin’ stuff.

Army Levels of Marksmanship

Both the Army and the Marine Corps issue badges for marksmanship. They’re the only two branches of the United States military that issue these badges. Other branches do have other similar programs.

The badges your soldier in training will have the opportunity to earn during their time at Ft. Leonard Wood include:

  1. Expert
  2. Sharpshooter
  3. Marksman

Up to three weapons that your SIT qualifies in will be displayed from their badge. These three marksmanship clasps will be suspended from the soldier in training’s marksmanship badge. (per AR670-1)

Army Weapons Soldiers can Earn the following Clasps




















Believe it or not, it’s already time to start thinking about visitation! This is a time when you and your family can go spend family day on the base, with your soldier!

Pictures of Soldiers at BCT at Fort Leonard Wood

In the meantime, there are pictures of your soldier appearing online by now! So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Leonard Wood photography. I don’t have any affiliation with Leonard Wood, in fact, haven’t even bought the pictures of my daughter yet. Money can be tight, but what I did do… is stalk this page like a crazy woman for weeks!

To find your soldiers pictures use the drop down menu to find their company. For instance, my daughter would be under E148. Usually, but not always it’s going to be the one without the date by it. However, if you’re unsure, you can look at the first picture in each set for the date they were taken.

The pictures are then sorted by activity, so beware they won’t necessarily be in any order, and new pictures could pop up at any time. Happy Searching!

I got my own Dog Tags today!

Fun Mail ideas for Basic Training Mom’s, Dads, Wives, Husbands . . . and Cats.

The very 1st letter I received from my SIT was on paper that was provided to her to keep notes in a class of some sort that she was attending her 1st week of basic. The best thing about this letter was hearing she was okay, that she was happy, and that she loved me. Then there was that blessed envelope, and it\'s forwarding address that told me how to get a letter to my daughter while she was at BCT at Fort Leonard Wood. It basically said \"Mom I love you, I\'m supposed to be taking notes.. I\'m fine, I\'m happy.. \" etc. 100 words tops. Just for your reference, I looked down at the word counter on this article, what you\'ve read this far of this article is about 100 words. It was shorter.

SIT\'s aren\'t given a ton of time to write home, in fact, early on they\'re barely given any at all. But we still want answers don\'t we? Amen!

Check out this survey idea from MsABCT:

I've arrived! I feel like I'm at Summer Camp ___ Band Camp ___ Lost in the Twilight Zone ____

My DS Yells more than Mom ____ Dad _____ Other _____________

But he/she reminds me of ________________________ on a good day ____ a bad day ____

My Battle Buddies are Nice ______ Funny ______ Strange _____ Scary _________ Don't ask ________

I like the food better ______ it's something to eat ______ ughhh _______

My bed is too small _____ too big _____ just right _______

The guy next to me has good hygiene ______ bad hygiene _______ we all stink so it doesn't matter _______

I'm OK ____ I'll survive _____ it's tough but I'm hanging in ________ Can you break me out _____?

Before I left, I forget to do ________________________________

and I forgot to tell you ___________________________________

Have fun with your SIT...

Meanwhile do you remember I told you I wanted to make some changes with house ____ myself ____ other ___ ?

Well guess what I did? I _______________________ and I love it ____ should have waited ______ still deciding ___

Be loving with your SIT...

The first thing I did was _________

I can't wait to see you ________

(insert your own) ___________

CLICK HERE to print this survey! 😀
The writer also advises that you send a self-addressed stamped envelope, GOOD ADVICE I never thought of that!

The next article reminds us that our soldier's miss their pets, and suggests that we make sure the pets send letters as well! LOL :).

Here's an excerpt:


Here is one from our own Admin Cyndi Baweck.:

Fetti is our house rabbit, Porky is the cat.

It’s Fetti. . . yeah, yeah I know. I’ll give you a minute to get over the shock. . . . . . . . . . you good?

Anyway, I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen you around for awhile. Mom says you’re at Basic Training. Really? You’re kind of big to not know the basics of training. Poop in the litter box, don’t chew on the furniture, and don’t chase the cat. Stop laughing, her smacking me in the eye doesn’t make her tough, just grumpy.

There are a lot of other fun articles by this particular Facebook Page, so be sure to check them out!