What to do before you leave...

By this point, the Air Force already knows that you are capable of learning, because you’re at least a high school graduate, you passed the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), and you impressed your recruiter. You are NOT required to study anything in order to graduate from Basic Training. However, you’ll quickly find out during AFBMT that there is never enough time to get everything done that you’re expected to do. That’s a universal rule of basic training. The more studying you do in advance, the less time you will have to spend “in the books” studying during basic training.
Here are some things you can study in advance to make your life in AFBMT easier:

  • Air Force Ranks: The Air Force has two types of people: Those who outrank you, and those who don’t. I’m just kidding. While that is true, you don’t have to worry about that in basic training. During basic, pretty much everybody in the world outranks you. The Air Force has two separate rank structures — enlisted and officers. Enlisted folks have stripes (the more stripes, the more rank), and officers have bars, leafs, and stars. Officers always outrank enlisted folks, no matter how many stripes are on the enlisted person’s shoulders. Before you graduate from Basic Training, you’ll have to memorize all Air Force ranks. So, why not know them before you ever arrive?
  • Drill: Ever watch TV and see all those folks in military uniform, marching together, everyone in step, starting, stopping, and turning at the same time? That’s drill. Drill means marching, or sometimes it means just standing in place in an organized and disciplined way. You’ll do a lot of drill in basic training. For the first couple of weeks, you’ll spend an hour or two every single day learning and practicing drill, and pretty much everywhere you go in basic, your flight (recruits you are living with) will march to. Your life in basic will be easier if you learn some of the fundamentals of drill before you even get there. As a very minimum, you should learn how to salute, and practice saluting in front of a mirror, until you have it down pat.
  • Chain of Command: All military organizations have a chain of command. A chain of a command is who is in charge of who. In the military, if you have a problem, you bring it to the lowest appropriate level in your chain of command. If he/she can’t help, you can then address it to the next level in your chain, and so on. You’ll be required to memorize your entire AFBMT Chain of Command by the 8th day of basic. So, why not study it in advance?
  • Reporting: In basic training, you can’t just run up to a training instructor (TI) and say, “Hey, you! Where’s the chow hall?” Well, actually you can, but I certainly would like a front row seat to see that. In AFBMT, when you are ordered to speak with a superior, you must first “report,” and use your “reporting statement.” This article will tell you what reporting is all about, and how you can be a reporting expert before you even get to basic.
  • Air Force Song: Each military branch has a song that they consider theirs and theirs alone, and they are proud of their song. In AFBMT, you’ll be required to sing the Air Force Song each morning following reveille (the raising of the flag), and pretty much any time your TI wants to hear you sing it.
  • Air Force Core Values: All of the services have core values — standards that their members are expected to live by. In basic training, you’ll be required to memorize the Air Force Corps Values, and be required to state those values, anytime the TI orders you to.
  • Military time: If you don’t know how to tell time the military way (i.e. 3:00 PM = 1500 hours), this would be a good topic to study in advance. This article will help you understand how the military tells time.
  • Social Security Number: If you don’t know your social security number by heart, memorize it. Your social security number becomes your “identification number” and you’ll use it for almost everything (Privacy Act permitting).