After four decades, the U.S. Army has announced a major change to its one-station unit training (OSUT) for infantry soldiers: starting in 2019, the program is being extended from 14 weeks to 22 weeks.
Col. Townley R. Hedrick, the Army Infantry School Commandant, said the longer OSUT would boost soldier lethality before they leave for their first duty assignment. The new program will include more weapons training; more vehicle-platform familiarization; additional combatives training and a 40-hour combat-lifesaver certification course. More via the Army news release:
A Longer OSUT
Under the new OSUT program, Soldiers will get more training with their M4 rifle and increased hands-on experience with the M240 machine gun and the M249 squad automatic weapon.
“So across all the Infantry weapons, they will get more bullets,” Hedrick said. “And they will also shoot more at night, rather than just doing a day familiarization fire.”
In addition to increased weapons training, Soldiers will receive more field training experience, including tactical training repetitions that focus more on squad formations during day and night operations, he said. The goal is to help trainees understand where they fall within a fire team or rifle squad and make them more proficient while operating in the field.
“We looked at land navigation and individual Soldier skills,” Hedrick said. “Under the new course, a Soldier will do an individual day and night land navigation course on their own. They will also do a basic combative certification. That improves the mental and physical toughness of Soldiers coming through the Infantry OSUT.”
Additionally, the Infantry School has added six days of vehicle platform training to the new program. Under the 14-week program, Soldiers only received one day of training with their assigned vehicle. During the new course, Soldiers assigned to a Stryker or Bradley unit will learn how to drive and perform maintenance on their assigned vehicle.
Furthermore, a more significant emphasis on drill and ceremony has been built into the new curriculum.
“It is all about conditioning, following commands and working as a unit, so you will see an increasing level of discipline through drill and ceremony,” the commandant said. “We think this gets us to the objective of a more expert and proficient Soldier.”
Naturally, more training time means more manpower. Thus, the Infantry School is expanding from five to eight battalions in order to “ensure the same annual throughput of approximately 17,000 well-trained soldiers,” the Army said.
Furthermore, the Infantry School is working with TRADOC to ensure enough drill sergeants are in place for the 22-week OSUT in 2019. Under the 14-week program, three drill sergeants train a platoon of 60 soldiers. For the 22-week program, the Infantry School wants to add six additional infantry instructors for a better student-to-instructor ratio.
As the news release notes, Army infantry soldiers were trained in a 14-week OSUT program for the past 44 years. Ten of those weeks were basic training, and an additional four were geared toward infantry-specific skills.
The service started thinking about changing OSUT after Defense Secretary James Mattis began to emphasize readiness and soldier lethality, Hedrick said. Army Vision, a recently published paper by Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, lets everyone know this is a top priority.
“Extending OSUT is about increasing our readiness and preparing for the future,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said. “This pilot program is the first step toward achieving our vision of the Army of 2028. With more time to train on critical Infantry tasks, we’ll achieve greater lethality.”
A preliminary 21-week OSUT pilot program will kick off this month, with a graduation date scheduled for December. The new 22-week OSUT will begin in full in 2019 at some point between July and October.
Check out the video below for a closer look at forthcoming OSUT changes.