Recruit training, more commonly known as Basic Training and colloquially called boot camp, is the initial indoctrination and instruction given to new military personnel, enlisted and officer. After completion of Basic Training, new recruits undergo Advanced Individual Training (AIT), where they learn the skills needed for their military jobs. Officer trainees undergo more detailed programs that may either precede or follow the common recruit training in an officer training academy (which may also offer a civilian degree program simultaneously) or in special classes at a civilian university.
Recruit training varies by nation according to the national requirement and can be voluntary (volunteer military) or mandatory (conscription). Approximately 100 such nations as the United Kingdom and United States have voluntary service. In voluntary service an individual chooses to join and thereby agrees to be subjected to the process of building an organization where each life depends on the person next to them. This voluntary status has changed the culture of military service.
Recruit training is oriented to the particular service. Army and marine recruits are nearly always trained in basic marksmanship with individually assigned weapons, field maintenance of weapons, physical fitness training, first aid, and basic survival techniques. Navy and coast guard training usually focuses on water survival training, physical fitness, basic seamanship, and such skills as shipboard firefighting, basic engineering, and signals. Air force training usually includes physical fitness training, military and classroom instructions, and field training in basic marksmanship and first aid. In all training, standard uniforms are issued and recruits typically have their hair cut or shaved in order to meet grooming standards and homogenize their appearances. Recruits are generally given a service number. Recruit training must merge divergent trainees often from different levels of culture and society into a useful team. A national basic training will include provision for the basic needs of the recruit - food, shelter, clothing - and these will meet certain unit standards and unit requirements, such as 'mobility' for an infantry unit. A recruit therefore will be 'issued' basic provisions or equipment according to the requirements of the unit and taught responsible management of these provisions.
Recruit training has changed over the years as tactics of war have changed. Infantry units no longer attack in mass formations; however, to move units around a base, formations are useful and practical. A combat soldier on the ground who may call-in artillery and/or air strikes must be more intelligent and thoughtful than ever before.
Recruits are typically instructed in "drill": to stand, march, and respond to orders. Historically, drills are derived from 18th-century military tactics wherein soldiers in a fire line performed precise and coordinated movements to load and fire muskets. Although these particular tactics are now mostly obsolete, drilling trains the recruit to act unhesitatingly in the face of real combat situations. Modern militaries have learned that a service member often must make critical decisions on behalf of his team and nation. Drill also enables the modern infantry soldier to maintain proper position relative to his peers and thereby maintain the shape of his or her formation (arrowhead, line abreast, etc.) while moving over uneven terrain or in the dark of night. Drill serves a role in leadership training. Combat situations include not only commands to engage and put one's life in danger, but also commands to disengage when military necessity so demands. Drill is essential for military function because without the ideally instantaneous response to command that drill conditions, a military unit would likely disintegrate under the stress of combat and degenerate into a mere armed mob . According to Finnish Army regulations, the close-order drill serves four functions:
- gets the recruits used to instinctive obedience and following the orders
- enables large units to be marched and moved in an orderly manner
- creates the basis for action in the battlefield
Some aspects of basic training are psychological: instructors reason that recruits who cannot reliably follow orders and instructions in routine matters will likely be unreliable in a combat situation wherein they may experience a strong urge to disobey orders or flee and thereby jeopardize themselves, their comrades, and the mission. Volunteers in a combat unit will experience a unique level of 'agreement' among participants, termed unit cohesion, that cannot be equaled in any other human organization because each team member's life may depend on the actions of the recruit to their right or left.Template:Citation needed Special forces and commando units fully develop this unit cohesion.
The process of transforming civilians into military personnel has been described by military historian Gwynne Dyer as a form of conditioning that encourages inductees to partially submerge their individuality for the good of their unit. Dyer argues that this conditioning is essential for military function because combat requires people to endure stress and perform actions that are simply absent in normal life. Military units are therefore incomparable to civilian organizations because each participant is in mortal danger and often depends on the others.
National Service (NS) in Singapore is compulsory for all able-bodied male citizens and second generation permanent residents who have reached the age of 18. Conscripts enlisted into the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are required to attend Basic Military Training (BMT) at the beginning of their NS. They are known as Full Time National Servicemen (NSFs).
Based on their Physical Employment Status (PES) grade determined by a pre-enlistment medical examination, NSFs may undergo either a standard, enhanced, modified, or obese BMT at the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC) on the offshore island of Pulau Tekong or at the various military units that directly accept mono-intake PES A and B recruits.
Throughout their BMT, NSFs will acquire the basic skills required of a SAF soldier by:
- Executive basic drills
- Physical training
- Passing the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT)
- Operating and firing a SAR 21 assault rifle
- Throwing both practice and live SFG 87 hand grenades
- Complete a Standard Obstacle Course (SOC) and Battle Inoculation Course (BIC)
- Going through a field camp
At the end of BMT, NSFs will typically complete a 24 kilometer long route march in Full Battle Order (FBO) and attend a Passing Out Parade (POP).
After BMT, NSFs will receive their posting orders to be on course to their respective vocations, which are determined by their PES status, suitability for deployment, and manpower requirement. Some of them will be directly posted to a military unit while others may undergo vocational training at certain institutes before being posted to units.
NSFs who have performed well during BMT may progress to either the Specialist Cadet School (SCS) or Officer Cadet School (OCS) for further leadership training to become Specialists (non-commissioned officers) or Officers.
NSFs will serve the remaining part of their NS in their respective units until their Operationally Ready Date (ORD), whereupon they will be known as Operationally Ready National Serviceman (NSmen, or reservists). NSmen may still be required to attend reservist training or In-Camp Training (ICT) from time to time.