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To become a soldier at Fort Jackson PDF Print E-mail

U.S. Army recruits face grueling new four-day training test

It’s pitch black, the darkness pierced only by the glare of exploding bombs and the streaks of red-hot light that won’t stop bursting from the ends of three M240 machine guns. On the ground, Eric Shepherd lies prone, afraid to lift his head.

Shepherd wants to be a soldier. But to cap his 10 weeks of basic training at Fort Jackson, he and his fellow Army trainees must pass this part of a final test — a simulation of a nighttime invasion staged in the woods of the 52,000-acre base.

It’s one leg of a new course that all Army trainees must complete. Over four days, the course tests recruits on virtually every aspect of their training — including patrols, obstacle courses, hand-to-hand combat and more than 45 miles of marching.

The course is part of the Army's response to a call from leadership for tougher, more physically fit soldiers prepared for a future that's likely to include large-scale conflicts requiring constant movement.

It's also intended to address the Army's concern that an emerging generation of trainees grew up with less exercise and are less attuned to discipline.

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