The U.S. Army is changing its OSUT (One Station Unit Training) program for infantry, pushing it from 14 weeks to 21 weeks. This will be a “pilot program” initiated in July, which will be used to determine the effectiveness of the extension and whether or not it warrants permanent integration into the Army. It is going to expand the qualifications on various weapon platforms to include more time on crew served weapons, provide better training on land navigation in both day and night, more in-depth combatives training, as well as extending the combat lifesaver’s course (basic medical training at the individual level).

If the Army approves the program overall, they plan on implementing a 22-week OSUT by October of 2019.

OSUT essentially takes Basic Combat Training (BCT) and combines it with Advanced Individual Training (AIT). While these current training changes are in regards to the infantry program, there are also OSUT programs for Combat Engineers, Military Police, Cavalry Scouts, and M1 Abrams Crewmen. The idea of OSUT is to provide an environment that can cater to the needs of that specialty/job all throughout training, instead of having to wait all the way until AIT before they can really start diving into their specialties. This is extremely important for combat MOSs who take a less academic approach (learning one thing at a time, step by step the way a medic needs to), and instead needs a more integrated and immersive approach (for example, learning the basics of react to contact alongside other fundamental skills).

This pilot program to extend infantry OSUT is part of a larger plan for the Army to integrate its “Modernization Priorities.” According to a memo from Oct. 2017, by Gen. Mark Milley and Ryan D. McCarthy (acting United States Secretary of the Army at the time), there are six major focuses in regards to modernization:

  1. A Long-Range Precision Fires capability that restores US Army dominance in range, munitions, and target acquisition.
  2. A Next Generation Combat Vehicle — along with other close combat capabilities in manned, unmanned, and optionally-manned variants-with the most modem firepower, protection, mobility, and power generation capabilities, to ensure our combat formations can fight and win against any foe.
  3. Future of Vertical Lift platforms — attack, lift, recon — in manned, unmanned, and optionally-manned variants that are survivable on the modem and future battlefield.
  4. An Army Network with hardware, software, and infrastructure — sufficiently mobile and expeditionary — that can be used to fight cohesively in any environment where the electromagnetic spectrum is denied or degraded.
  5. Air and Missile Defense capabilities that ensure our future combat formations are protected from modern and advanced air and missile delivered fires, including drones.
  6. Finally, Soldier lethality that spans all fundamentals — shooting, moving, communicating, protecting and sustaining. We will field not only next generation individual and squad combat weapons, but also improved body armor, sensors, radios, and load-bearing exoskeletons. Putting this all together, we must improve human performance and decision making by increasing training and assessment, starting at the Soldier level. This will require a rapid expansion of our synthetic training environment and deeper distribution of simulations capabilities down to battalion and companies, with simulation capability to model combat in megacities, a likely battlefield of the future.”

It seems that the Army’s focus with the extension of infantry OSUT falls into the sixth and final category here: “Soldier lethality that spans all fundamentals.”

The Army has also expressed a plan to move forward in simulations training, like the one pictured below.

A squad of U.S. Army Soldiers conduct simulations training at the U.S. Army Armor School in Ft. Benning, Ga. March 9, 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade/ Released)

Featured image courtesy of the DOD.