- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2018

Life for new recruits at Fort Benning, Georgia, is about to get a lot longer.

The U.S. Army has plans to extend Basic Combat Training for its young infantrymen by two months. The reason: Military officials want to ensure a better “baseline” infantryman arrives at each duty station.

Col. Townley Hedrick, the commandant of the Infantry School at Benning, told Military.com that extending one station unit training (OSUT) from 14 weeks to 22 weeks boils down to getting in “more reps and sets” for infantry rifle squads.

“We are trying to make sure that infantry soldiers coming out of infantry OSUT are more than just familiar [with ground combat skills],” the officer said for an interview published Monday. “You are going to shoot more bullets; you are going to come out more proficient and more expert than just familiar.”

“In 14 weeks, what we really do is produce a baseline infantry soldier,” added Col. Kelly Kendrick, the outgoing commander of 198th Infantry Brigade at Benning. “I was the G3 of the 101st Airborne and if a [new] soldier came up late in the train-up, we had a three-week train-up program and then after three weeks, we would send that soldier on a deployment. … We are going to have a hell of a lot better soldier. I will tell you, we will produce infantry soldiers with unmatched lethality compared to what we have had in the past.”

A pilot program will begin July 13 to mid-December with two companies, the website reported.

The 22-week cycle across infantry OSUT will begin in October 2019 when details are finalized.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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