In the United States, 'boot camps' are elementary training facilities, and are officially known as Recruit Training, Basic Training, Basic Combat Training or Basic Military Training. The five branches of the United States Armed Forces include the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. All the three branches of the U.S Armed Forces conduct their own training, that is commonly known as 'BASIC' .This is principally a boot camp where recruits are transformed from civilians to soldiers.
The military powers all over the world aim at excellence and endurance. Contrary to civilian belief that being an Armed Forces officer is a great 'job', a boot camp instills in the recruits that being an Armed Forces officer is not a 'job', but, is rather a way of life.
One cannot compare and determine which is the hardest branch of the military, but it is a known fact that, in the United States, the Army and Marine Corps boot camps are supposed to be the hardest. The Marines undergo their boot camps at Marine Corps Recruit Depots, which are located at Parris Island and San Diego. The Marine boot camps are known for their aggression and brutality. The total program is a 5-phase program. The first phase is the receiving phase, where the recruits are issued their gear, and are briefed regarding the code and doctrine that they are supposed to follow. The next part is where an M16A2 service rifle is issued. The last part is the Initial Strength Test, where the recruit goes through a physical examination. The test is an important one, as the recruit can begin the boot camp if he passes the test.
The connection between the two phases―receiving and Phase 1―is the 'Black Friday'. On Black Friday, the recruits meet their company commander and drill instructors. A briefing of the training is also provided at this point. Black Friday gets its name from the brutal commands from the drill instructor and company commander. In the process, discipline, rigor, and command instructions are forcefully given out to the recruits in order to break their civilian habits. Some have referred to the process as 'kicking out the laziness''. The movement where Black Friday comes to an end is quite a sensitive and emotional one. The commands and new military discipline helps recruits grasp the fact that they have chosen a military life, and it is time to say goodbye to civilian life.
Phase 1 is the real beginning, as actual warfare training starts at this point. This phase physically and psychologically challenges the recruits. An extremely important task for the recruits is that they need to change their entire mind-set and start thinking as a group. Combat situations are experienced, and their body and mind starts to become like fighting machines. The discipline and harsh training helps the marines to control their minds and bodies. Apart from accepting and molding into the military life, the recruits start specialized exercises, arms training, survival skills, and basic military drills for discipline and safety. By the end of phase 1, the recruits become adapted to the way of life that they have chosen. As marines, the recruits also start their highly specialized Marine Corps Martial Arts Programs.
Phase 2 is a brutal one, as the cadets start with marksmanship training and water survival. During these weeks, team performance as well as individual performance is subject of analysis. The second week of the program is referred to as the 'grass week', as the recruits are taught marksmanship. The next week is 'firing week', where they must complete the firing qualification day. The requirement is 500 yards for qualification with live ammunition. The Marines is the only armed forces branch that requires the 500-yard qualification.
Phase 3 is when things get even tougher. Here there are warfare techniques, such as line firing, where recruits fire in live war-like conditions wearing their gear and gas masks. Some techniques that are taught during this phase include camouflage, tracking, navigation, recon, rappelling, etc. The recruits start living in open air, and cease experiencing all comforts. The qualifying session is a bit brutal, as it involves gas mask testing in the presence of live CS gas.
The last stage is 'The Crucible', and involves a 54-hour testing event of all the skills that the recruits have learned. This stage lasts for thirteen weeks, and is completed by the graduation day.
Besides making soldiers out of men, these boot camps also teach one to handle stress and deliver exceptional performance under any circumstances.