If there is one thing all your struggles in Basic Training are preparing you for, it is this. THE BEAST. And no, it’s not the Sandlot dog. BEAST stands for Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training. BEAST gives you an idea of what it might be like living in a deployed environment.
And let me tell you… it sucked. From what I’ve heard, most deployments aren’t near as primitive as the BEAST is, but they can be. A lot of people in my flight loved this particular week, but I hated it. Here is a basic outline of your 5th week in Air Force Basic Training.
Your Sunday will be business as usual, but you will probably also have the chance to run to the mini-BX. This is because there is a list of items you need for BEAST, and if one thing is missing, you could get into big trouble. Some of these items, like a spare flashlight bulb (you’ll have your Lackland Laser with you during most of you BMT time), were impossible to find because they were sold out. Other airmen had already bought up the stock. This left some of us buying a second flashlight, just so we’d have the bulb. This was dumb to me, but the MTI’s threats were scary and real. They threatened to recycle us if they had to drive out to the BEAST site to bring us additional supplies.
Other items, such as bras, were also on the list. You had to have at least 6-7 bras. This also left some of us buying bras that didn’t even fit us, just to fulfill the requirement. Same with socks, underwear, etc. I recommend just biting the bullet and spending the money. Some people who had excess of other items would share with others so they didn’t have to buy new items, or they would split the price of an item. Anywho, it’s quite the hassle and very irritating, because you have to fit ALL of your stuff into one big green duffel. I hated every minute of this. Just prepare yourself now. It’s not unbearable, but it is pretty sucky.
NOTE: I would also buy a lot of baby wipes. Sometimes, the shower situation at BEAST can get complicated and you might find it’s easier to “sponge bathe” in the shower area…
Everything you have will be packed Sunday night, because on Monday morning, you are heading out. Say goodbye to your wonderful dorms. You’ll miss them.
Monday is completely hectic and awful. You wake up early, you barely get breakfast, and then you’re on your way. This is all made worse if it’s cold or rainy, because then they make you dig your parka out and put that on (I recommend stowing towards the top of your duffel if the conditions the day before are cold or look like rain). You will spend a lot of time standing around with your 50lb duffel on your back waiting to get on the buses. Pray to God you don’t have to pee.
The bus ride is going to be uncomfortable. Not only will you have your duffel, which is nearly the size of a small trainee, but you’ll also have to “double up” in the seats. You can imagine. I didn’t sit most of the way, but moreso half leaned on my bag etc. This ride will last about 30 minutes. Once you arrive, you’ll be shuffled off and yelled at and told to get into lines. Oh, did I also mention that your wet belt won’t have a satchel on it anymore, but 2 canteens because you are forced to drink 10 canteens a day?
Anyways, they line you up with your flight, and then they make you dump EVERYTHING out of your duffel. Yep, all that work you did… WASTED. Now, I’ve heard stories about them going through every item in a person’s bag, but they didn’t do that to us. The “Cadres” (That’s what they’re called here – not MTIs), will yell out the items on the list and you’re supposed to hold up the bags that contain these items. Most of the time, they couldn’t even see what was in our baggies. So really, could we have gotten away with not buying the spare flashlight bulb and batteries? Probably. Was it worth taking the chance? NO.
Oh, I also forgot to tell you that you’re also carrying your weapon this whole time. THE WHOLE TIME. Get used to it. Your weapon must be with you during every minute of BEAST. You’re deployed, don’t ya know?!
Once all that is done, they will put 3-4 flights together and move them to their camp. Basically, there are 6-8 tents in each camp and you will have a cot to sleep on. You will share a tent with about half your flight, and the rest will be in another tent.
Just like in the dorms, you will have a BEAST Leader (hopefully not your dorm chief) and EC duty. You will also have an additional duty called the UCC. These must all happen during the night. They do not take place during the day, if I remember correctly, because you’re out “training.”
EC duty consists of standing guard in front of your tent with full gear (helmet, weapon, and bulletproof vest). It’s heavy and can get cold. Supposedly, there are wild boars in the area, and some ECs have seen them at night, or heard them. You may also hear coyotes yipping and howling. It’s okay. They don’t usually come near the camps. If they do, the cadres will take care of them.
Cadres will be staying up in a high tower 24 hours a day, so don’t try to pull any shenanigans because they will find you. There is such a thing called BEAST babies. People have been known to sneak out and do some fooling around, but I don’t recommend it… You will probably get caught.
The UCC stands for Unit Control Center, and this will also require a nightly shift. This is why you best be cozy with the EC schedulers or they can make your life miserable. The UCC checks accountability (which the ECs have to take every two hours) and reports it back to the Cadres. This is why you don’t want to try any tomfoolery. These duties start Monday night, so prepare yourself. It’s going to be a long week.
Tuesday – Thursday
A quick rundown of the following days. You will relearn first aid stuff, and how to stop an intruder. You will also learn how to do some basic combat moves to defend yourself, but it all happens so fast and you’re moving on to the next thing that you probably won’t remember them. And I don’t know that they will help you in the real world, anyhow.
One day will be totally devoted to CATM (shooting a REAL M16). This is where you will get the opportunity to earn a ribbon called Marksmanship. If you hate guns, this is going to be a tough day for you, as you HAVE TO DO IT. Most of your day will be spent doing this, so it’s a nice getaway compared to your other BEAST days.
Another day will involve more learning, watching videos about how to cope if captured behind enemy lines and how to endure torture, as well as a really janky obstacle course. I won’t lie, it was not very difficult. It’s no wonder the Army laughs at us. HaHa! They don’t call us the Chair Force for nothing.
Also, your dinner will be the best time of the day, because they give you a ton of food and DESSERT. Every day. It’s amazing, but you have to eat fast because then you have to get back to shower, which as I said, is a nightmare.
And that’s how most of these days go. You may do PT once or twice, but it is so minimal compared to what you do back at Lackland.
We ended up being rained out. This happens a lot. Early Friday morning, one of the camps got flooded out (their tent and everything) and they moved us all to our respective auditoriums. This was awful because it was 1am, pouring rain and freezing, and we were in nothing but our PT gear and parkas. We ended up hanging out there until about 9 am, when they finally sent us back to our tents to gather our things. We really only missed a few hours of BEAST. I’ve heard of other people missing 3 or 4 days of BEAST due to rain. They end up sending those people back to the dorms and they get to move on with their lives. LUCKY.
Upon arriving back at Lackland, there will be lots of work to do. They will have you put all the things that you were given prior into certain piles (additional canteens, etc.). You will also have numerous laundry carts that you will put dirty ABUs in, PT gear, your socks, undies, etc. There will be MUCH laundry to do, and most of Saturday and Sunday will be dedicated to getting yourselves back into the normal routine of things and having the proper attire to do so. Everyone will have to do their share, but you’ll be so happy to be back in your dorm that it won’t matter.
If your MTIs are nice, they usually let you do your own thing that evening, as long as they feel they can trust you to get your details done and keep the laundry flowing. This means a nice, hot shower with enough time to get the grit out of your hair and maybe even shave your legs.
Overall, BEAST is a great learning experience, but it can be a hit or miss, depending on the weather and what is working at the time. It’s a very compact, concentrated time that gives you a taste of what deployments can be like. Once it’s over, you know you’ve basically made it. The time is almost near.
Week 6 is the final week before graduation, with a lot more time to relax and be excited. Look out for the recap soon.