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10 Misconceptions About Military Training

by George Smith
fact checked by Rachel Jones

The military and military boot camps are commonly portrayed in the media. These portrayals are rarely accurate and lead to the average person having many misconceptions about military training. Today, in the social media age, these misconceptions spread. It can be hard to tell what is true!

In this article, we will go through ten misconceptions about military training. From the misconceptions about drill sergeants, the purpose of boot camps, and false conceptions about what it takes to be successful in the military, we will cover it all. Continue below to learn about ten of the most common misconceptions about military training.

Related: 10 Amazing Facts About The Unkillable Soldier

10 No Family Contact Is Allowed Whatsoever

Straight from Basic Training: How much contact do family members have while in basic training?

Many new trainees come to training camp with the expectation that they won’t be able to speak with their families at all during camp. What a scary idea for young recruits just getting started in the service! This is false. While you may not talk to your family as often as you like, you will have opportunities.

In most cases, recruits will have an opportunity to make a phone call about once a week. These phone calls are typically limited to five minutes or less, allowing new military recruits to reconnect with their families. Often, these phone calls benefit the recruits’ families more than the recruits. Weekly phone calls allow trainees to check in with their family and loved ones. Years ago, family contact was much more sporadic, but that is no longer the case.

9 Every New Military Recruit Is Huge and Strong

Military Boot Camp exercises – Workout for full body. ‘Anyone can do it’.

Another common misconception citizens have about military training is that all the recruits are enormous. While there is a minimum weight requirement to enlist, this doesn’t mean that every new military recruit is six feet tall and has two hundred pounds of muscle.

Of course, many military recruits are especially large and strong. However, many are a more normal (or even smaller!) size. As you can see in the video above, these exercises are challenging but possible for recruits of many sizes. You don’t need to be a superhero or even have superhuman strength. More important are the characteristics of organization, teamwork, and heart.

8 Boot Camp Is “Brainwashing”

What New Air Force Recruits Go Through In Boot Camp | Boot Camp

Boot camp is undoubtedly a difficult time. Not all recruits indeed make it through the boot camp process. However, years of rumors and misconceptions have led to the idea that boot camp is a form of brainwashing.

Training camp aims to get military recruits on the same page. The physical training is arduous and intense. However, the mental training at these camps could be considered even more important. Boot camp is designed to instill a sense of community and push the limits of recruits. We can hardly classify this as “brainwashing.”

7 Boot Camp Is Designed for Recruits to Fail

Prepare For The Military: Strategy For Success

As you might expect, the military wants to bring in as many quality recruits as it can. Despite this seemingly obvious fact, there is still a prevailing misconception that boot camp is designed for recruits to fail. Of course, this makes very little sense. Millions of dollars are invested yearly in recruiting new soldiers and service members. Every branch of the armed forces wants to keep as many recruits as possible.

As mentioned above, boot camp and other training camps are designed to be difficult. However, most recruits complete their time in boot camp and move on to the next step. According to the Department of Defense, about ninety percent of recruits who start boot camp end up finishing it. Those odds aren’t too bad.

6 New Recruits Will Only Do Physical Training

What New Marine Corps Recruits Go Through In Boot Camp | Boot Camp | Business Insider

For all recruits in basic training, physical training will be a priority. You will spend a good part of your day completing exercises and endurance training. However, many people believe that boot camp is exclusively about physical training. This isn’t the case.

Beyond physical training, you will also learn the use of firearms, mapping, and strategies. Some basic training involves teamwork exercises as well. While recruits will spend most of their time at boot camp on physical training, it’s a misconception to think that boot camp is exclusively about physical training. The video above shows some of the many things Marine recruits receive training on during boot camp.

5 A Physically Fit Person Won’t Struggle in Boot Camp

How To Physically Prepare For ARMY BASIC TRAINING In 2021 | Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) Tips!

Boot camp is challenging for all recruits; despite this, many recruits come in with a misconception. They believe they won’t have trouble because they exercise regularly and consider themselves physically fit.

Most likely, no matter how rigorous a recruit’s workout routine may be, recruits will struggle. Being fit may give a recruit a leg up, but they will still wake up sore from physical training at the camp. Regardless of fitness, boot camp will be physically challenging for all involved. If you still want to try and be more prepared, the video above can give you tips about good ways to stay fit.

4 All Military Recruits Are Highly Patriotic

Boot Camp – Making A Sailor

When some people think of the military, they think of patriotic heroes. While it’s true that armed forces members are heroes, they aren’t all necessarily patriotic. Or, at least, not unusually so. Just like any other occupation, it takes all kinds of people.

There is no minimum level of patriotism for a citizen to join the armed forces. More important than patriotism are the characteristics of determination, intelligence, and adaptability. Often, recruits aren’t necessarily that patriotic. However, most veterans who have spent years in the armed forces generally are.

Across the six military branches, there’re all kinds of different servicemen and women. Some may be patriotic, sure. Some may be very big and strong as well. Boot camp trains all recruits to understand their particular branch’s traditions, tactics, and methods.

3 Basic Training Has Gotten Softer or Easier Over the Years

USMC Boot Camp Day 1 – Waking Up in Marine Corps Boot Camp

Most of the misconceptions on this list come from citizens who know little about the military. This misconception, unfortunately, comes from current and former military members. These former military members believe that boot camp has gotten easier in the years since they finished. Remember when your parents used to tell you that they walked ten miles to school? And it was uphill both ways? As changes have taken place in military boot camps, veterans have begun to think it’s getting easier or softer for recruits.

However, basic training is in no way soft or easy. It has changed, surely, but so has military strategy and tactics. The purpose of boot camp now is to train soldiers for modern warfare. Basic training teaches recruits a number of valuable skills. First aid, water survival, marksmanship, and military tactics are many focus areas. Recruit training also introduces customs and traditions for that particular military branch.

Despite changes in boot camp, don’t get the wrong idea. Boot camp is not easy, and recruits should come to boot camp ready to train (and probably suffer, at least a little bit).

2 All Military Servicemen Are Sharpshooters

There is a pervasive misconception that every military service member is a sharpshooter with a rifle. We certainly see this idea in many movies and TV shows; we are looking at you, Special Agent Seeley Booth. As you may have guessed, this idea isn’t true.

A recruit must be trained in firearms, and many often pass some form of rifle training depending on their military branch. This doesn’t mean that the military expects every recruit in the military to become a sharpshooter. If a recruit is particularly adept at shooting, they may receive additional training or special assignments following basic training.

1 Drill Sergeants Misconceptions

Drill Instructor Gives EPIC Speech – United States Marine Corps Recruit Training

There are several misconceptions about drill sergeants. When most people think of boot camp, they get a picture of a drill sergeant yelling in someone’s face or even getting physically abusive. While drill sergeants are regularly loud and aggressive, they’re not all “Major Payne.”

Drill sergeants aren’t allowed to physically harm or intimidate recruits. Despite this, they’re rarely warm or kind and have a reputation for being overbearing, uncaring, and even harsh. This is because the focus is on the future; drill sergeants have the important job of taking a group of recruits and producing a group of soldiers in just a couple of months. That is not something I’d want to be responsible for.

Many soldiers talk fondly about their experience with their drill sergeants. However, they may not have felt so warm during the moment.

fact checked by Rachel Jones