The U.S. Army post known as Fort Benning is on the border of Georgia and Alabama, near Columbus, GA. It supports over 70,000 active duty service members, their families, reserve components, veterans, and civilian employees.
Fort Benning is home to the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, including the Infantry and Armor Schools. If you are assigned to Fort Benning for Basic Training you’ll be among some of the most prestigious and rigorous leadership the military has to offer.
Fort Benning, Georgia Basic Training
Basic training at Fort Benning lasts ten weeks where you’ll sleep in bunks in an open squad bay, storing your belongings in lockers along the wall. You shouldn’t bring much in terms of stuff but you will need to make sure you have documents like your IDs and bank information.
Upon your arrival, you’ll experience what’s called the “shark attack” as you’re welcomed by drill sergeants. The point is to cause confusion and instill just the right amount of fear necessary to perform well during Basic Training and beyond.
You’ll go through a 72-hour Reception Week which mostly involves paperwork and processing before you start on the three main phases of Army Basic Training.
Army Basic Training – Fort Benning
At Fort Benning, Army Basic Training is broken up into three phases: Red, White, and Blue.
Red Phase at Fort Benning Basic Training
Red Phase at Fort Benning is all about team building and confidence development. You’ll go through several obstacle courses and face the Confidence Tower. You’ll rely on your fellow Privates during these exercises to build trust and encourage better communication.
The courses involve what you might imagine, such as mud crawls, wall climbs, and more. You’ll start to realize that you’re capable of much more than you originally thought. You’ll start to truly believe that you’re a soldier.
White Phase at Fort Benning Basic Training
The next phase at Army Basic Training at Fort Benning is called the White Phase. You’ll move on to marksmanship training starting with the M4 carbine, learning the weapon’s clearance procedures, safety rules, and maintenance.
Depending on how you grew up, it could be either your first time holding a gun or your thousandth. The bell curve for this part of Basic Training has a steep arch, so don’t be discouraged if you’ve never seen a rifle in real life and you’re struggling. It gets better.
Blue Phase at Fort Benning Basic Training
Next, you’ll move on to heavy weapons training where you’ll be introduced to the 50-caliber machine gun, hand grenades, the M320 grenade launcher, the M249 automatic squad weapon, the M240, and more. These are the big guns and they can be intimidating.
During the Blue Phase, you’ll also learn about first aid, clearing procedures for the bigger weapons, radio technology, and fire team tactics.
If you’re on track to becoming an infantryman, you’ll then move on to Phases Four and Five where you learn the finer details of combat, battlefield skills, and infantry tactics. If you’re on track for another MOS that’s not infantry, completing the Blue Phase marks the end of Basic Training and you’ll go on to graduation.
Fort Benning Basic Training Address
During Army Basic Training at Fort Benning, you’ll be mostly disconnected from the outside world. You won’t have access to your phone and you’re not permitted to use the internet. Your main communication with family and friends during Basic Training will be in the form of letters.
Phone calls are infrequent and at the discretion of the drill sergeants. Privates are usually allowed a quick phone call home upon their arrival and then again once their processing is complete and they’ve been assigned a unit. But keep in mind that these calls last about 30 seconds, so it’s not enough time to chat and catch up.
For emergencies and holidays, soldiers may be allowed to call home, but again, the best way to communicate with family and friends is through letters. You’ll receive a commander letter that will include your address at Fort Benning during Basic Training and that’s the address you should refer to. It will look something like this:
Rank (PVT, PV2, PFC, SPC) Last name, First name
X Co., X-XX Inf. Regt.
Fort Benning, GA 31905
Your family may want to send care packages while you’re in Basic Training and sometimes this is allowed. Your drill sergeant will make it clear what’s permitted and you should let your family know based on those rules what’s appropriate to send.
Fort Benning Basic Training Deaths
While it’s unlikely to die during Basic Training at Fort Benning, unfortunately, it has happened. Most recently in September 2019, a 19-year-old died at Fort Benning and the case is still under investigation.
Since 2008, two other deaths have been reported at Fort Benning. Army Sergeant Aaron Scales, age 34, died of a heat stroke on June 13, 2012. Army Second Lieutenant Michael Parros, age 21, died of hyponatremia, a heat-related condition caused by drinking too much water, on July 27, 2016.
With Fort Benning’s location in the South, temperatures can be excruciating, especially during the summer months. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to care for your body before you embark on Basic Training. Make sure you’re staying hydrated with electrolytes and protecting yourself from the sun.
Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet and do your best to rest in the shade when possible. Again, dying during Fort Benning Basic Training is highly unlikely, but it’s important to take extra care of your health upon your arrival in Georgia.