U.S. Army and U.S. Navy
The U.S. Army encourages potential recruits to “Be all that you can be.” The U.S. Navy's public relations department emphasizes that you can get an education, learn a skill you can use in civilian life, and see the world. “It's not just a job — it's an adventure,” was the slogan a few years back. The navy's new trademarked slogan is “Accelerate your life.”
The processes of enlisting in each of these two branches of service are very similar, as are the opportunities and the benefits that come with this service. This section focuses on the process of enlisting with the navy. For those of you who would prefer to remain on solid land, this information gives a basic idea of what to expect from the recruitment, enlistment, and boot camp experiences.
If you do not want to join up right away, you can take advantage of the military's delayed entry program (DEP). This allows you to join your chosen branch of the military but not report for active duty until up to one year later. In the meantime, you can get your affairs in order and start an exercise program in preparation for boot camp.
To find out how to enlist with the army or the navy, go online to the appropriate Web site (either
Army recruits attend boot camp/basic training at a variety of locations around the country. Navy recruits attend boot camp located at The Great Lakes Naval Training Center, on the western shore of Lake Michigan. In either brand of the service, boot camp consists of eight weeks of rigorous physical and mental training. One interesting difference is that army basic training is primarily conducted outdoors, while in the navy, most boot camp exercises are performed indoors. This may seem counterintuitive — keep in mind, however, that sailors are often confined for long periods onboard their ships, while army troops work outside on land.
Here is a week-by-week look at what you can expect from boot camp as a navy recruit:
Week 1: You will get your uniform, a medical and dental exam, and a haircut if you need one. You will learn the navy way to make your bed. You will begin the tough physical regimen of conditioning, which includes swimming, marching, and drilling. In addition, you will also be attending navy classes.
Week 2: This is a week of confidence building. You will be tested in simulations of shipboard situations. The emphasis is on teamwork.
Week 3: This week involves hands-on training onboard a docked training ship. You will learn everything you need to know about life aboard a naval vessel. There will also be classroom studies that focus on all aspects of basic seamanship. You will be asked to perform a physical test consisting of curl-ups, sit-reaches, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. If you fail the first time, you will have a chance to take the test again later.
Week 4: This is the week of weapons training. First you will be checked out on the M-16 and the twelve-gauge shotgun. Later in the week you will graduate to the live-fire range. You will also have your graduation pictures taken and complete a written test on all you have learned thus far.
Week 5: This week is a little bit of a breather. You can assess where you are in the process. As the navy says, “This week is all about you. Where you want to go, what you want to do, and how fast you intend to get there. So you find the shortest distance between where you are and where you want to be. If you're feeling a sense of accomplishment for making it this far — good for you.”
Week 6: This week you will learn about shipboard damage control and firefighting. These are two of the most important skills you'll need. Your life and those of your shipmates depend on mastering these skills. You will also be taking the most challenging test of all: the Confidence Chamber. You and about 100 other recruits will line up inside a chamber and put on a gas mask while a tear-gas tablet is lit. You will be ordered to remove your mask and throw it in a garbage can while reciting your full name and social security number.
Week 7: This is the week when you will take “boot camp's ultimate test.” It is an exercise of twelve different scenarios incorporating all that you have learned during the previous weeks. You will be graded on your ability to execute the required tasks.
Week 8: This is the week that you celebrate graduation in your dress uniform.
The navy has a set of swim qualifications as well. You enter the water feet first from a minimum height of five feet. You have to remain afloat for five minutes, and you must swim fifty yards using any stroke or a combination of strokes.
Sailors who are married can have their family move with them to their home base. In addition to a steady paycheck, you will also get thirty day's leave time.
Two factors determine where the navy will send you on your first assignments: its needs and your wants. In importance, its needs trump your wants. You will be assigned to a detailer. This is the officer who assigns you and who will work with you when you are eligible to transfer elsewhere. He or she will also advise you about further training opportunities should you wish to seek a specialty during your navy career.