Red Phase

Recruits are subject to “Total Control”. During Red Phase, recruits are subject to “Total Control”, meaning their every action is monitored and constantly corrected by drill sergeants. As may be expected, recruits are often subjected to group “corrective action” for even minor infractions. The purpose of red phase being to develop an acute attention to detail as well as foster a sense of common responsibility among the unit.

Red Phase Week 1

Week 1 begins with the recruits meeting the drill sergeants who will be responsible for their training throughout Basic Training. The drill sergeants pick up their recruits from Reception Battalion and either transport or march them to their company area. The company area is the common area for the entire company, and is surrounded by four barracks — one for each platoon in the company.

Upon arrival at the company area, recruits are subjected to exercises such as the “bag drill”. This is a training exercise in which all the recruits’ duffel bags are dumped into one large pile, and the recruits are told to find their personal duffel bags simultaneously, and within a set time limit. The exercise is designed so that the soldiers fail in their task and must keep trying again, until they realize that they must work together in order to complete the task within the time limit. Following the bag drill, the recruits are divided into platoons.

Drill and Ceremony training begins during week 1. This refers to correct procedures for marching, and body movements such as standing at attention, “facing” (right-face/left-face), “at ease,” etc. For this and many other exercises, soldiers are sometimes issued fake rifles known as “rubber ducks”, so that they can become familiar with the proper handling of their weapon before they have actually been trained to use it. More recently recruits have begun to be issued fully functional M-16 or M-4 during the first week of Basic Training to allow for early familiarization with the weapon.

Classroom instructions are given in each of the seven “Army Core Values”. There are also classes held on subjects that involve day-to-day personal life in the Army, such as sexual harassment and race relations.

Red Phase Week 2

During week 2, recruits begin unarmed combat training, also known as hand-to-hand combat, Combatives, or Ground Fighting Technique (GFT). The training often culminates in a competition where each platoon chooses one recruit to compete. At gender-integrated training stations, the platoons each choose one male and one female.

Recruits are also instructed in map reading, land navigation, and compass use. These skills are put to the test at the Compass Course, where recruits are divided into groups and must navigate their way to a series of points throughout a wooded area.

Recruits will also tackle other physical challenges including Victory Tower and the Teamwork Development Course. Victory Tower is an exercise where recruits must navigate through several obstacles at extreme heights, including climbing and traversing rope ladders and bridges. They must then rappel down a 50-foot wall (back-first, with rope harness). In the Teamwork Development Course, squads must negotiate a series of obstacles, with emphasis on working as a team rather than as individuals.

First aid training (known as CLS “Combat Life Saver”) is also given during this period. Recruits are trained in evaluating and properly treating casualties, ranging from the simple dressing of a wound to application of a tourniquet. Recruits are also trained in how to evaluate and treat heat casualties such as dehydration.

Red Phase Week 3

Recruits begin training week 3 of red phase with pugil sticks. Other hands-on instruction sessions include person-carrying methods and physical problem-solving.

Recruits are also commonly sent to the “gas chamber” during this week, which is a large, sealed chamber where soldiers are subjected to CS gas while wearing their protective masks. The gas chamber is the culmination of a series of instructions on gas mask use. Recruits are forced to unmask just before exiting the chamber, so that they can briefly experience the effects of the gas. Drill sergeants will usually ask each recruit to recite information while they are unmasked, such as name, rank, social security number, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Soldiers’ Creed, or the three Army general orders, so that the recruit is forced to open their mouth/eyes and/or take a breath. Recruits that answer incorrectly are sometimes sent for another trip through the gas chamber.

Red Phase Week 3 is also when the recruits are introduced to their standard-issue weapon, the M16A2 assault rifle or the M4 carbine. This does not yet involve the actual firing of the rifle. It does include Basic Rifle Marksmanship fundamentals training (instruction in marksmanship techniques without firing the rifle), as well as maintenance tasks, including “field stripping” (quickly disassembling) the rifle, cleaning it, and reassembling it correctly. With the focus toward Weapon Familiarization, many of these tasks (such as maintenance, and disassembly and reassembly) are now done during Week 1 as a part of the initial round of classroom instruction.

Red phase was one of the biggest eye-openers of my life. There are so many emotions running through your mind during this phase. It truly does fly by quickly, though. I just kept saying to myself “Do not quit!”

Joel Steedman

11x Recruit