1. Don’t stare at the drill sergeants. Always look straight ahead, and if a drill sergeant gets in your face, don’t focus on him/her. Stare at an imaginary spot on the other side of his/her head and don’t give in to the impulse to look him/her in the eye.
2. Begin and end everything you say with the words drill sergeant. Hence, “Drill Sergeant, yes, Drill Sergeant!”
3. The drill sergeant is not your friend. Do not refer to him/her as “man,” “dude,” “pal,” “chickie,” or any other familiar handle.
4. The proper position of attention goes like this: head and eyes straight forward, chin and shoulders back, arms along your sides, first joint of your thumb lined up with the seam of your trousers, legs straight, feet heels together at a 45-degree angle. It doesn’t hurt to practice before you ship out.
5. Every time you move, you’ll be marching, either in a line (squad) or in a group (formation). When you’re marching, your left foot and your right hand go out together, your right foot and left hand together. The drill sergeant will “sing cadence,” which is the rhythmic chant that sets the beat for the march. When the drill sergeant says “left,” your left foot hits the ground; when he/she says “right,” your right foot hits the ground. Stay lined up behind the person in front of you, and stay even with the people on either side of you. If the people around you can’t keep it together, don’t say anything to them. The drill sergeant will catch them, and if he/she catches you talking while marching, you’ll catch hell as well.
6. You’ll be issued an M16 assault rifle. It’s a weapon, not a gun. And don’t drop it.
7. Male soldiers will receive a “high and tight” haircut upon arriving; this is not negotiable. Female soldiers must wear their hair neat, up and off their collar, using hair ties/pins that match their hair color.
8. The camoflaged uniform is called your BDU’s, for Battle Dress Uniform. Some soldiers refer to them as “bidoos.” Don’t do this in basic training. You’ll wear your BDU pants tucked into your combat boots, unless it’s an exceptionally hot day, in which case you’ll untuck them and fold them up at the cuffs. You’ll always wear your BDU sleeves down unless you’re on kitchen duty, in which case you’ll fold the sleeves up so the cuff shows properly and keeps the inside of the sleeve from showing. Don’t ever roll sleeves or pants cuffs. Don’t let a drill sergeant catch you wearing white socks instead of black with your BDU’s.
9. The work out uniform consisting of black shorts and gray T-shirt is called PT’s, for Physical Training. You’ll wear your shorts at your waist, not at your hips, with the T-shirt tucked in snugly. Always wear white socks with PT’s. You’ll wear your PT’s in the morning for exercise, then return to the barracks to change into your BDU’s. You’ll typically remain in your BDU’s for the rest of the day, until you return at night. You’ll sleep in your PT’s. Sleep attire is not optional. Don’t let a drill sergeant catch you sleeping in anything but a complete PT uniform.
10. Never say “I’m sorry” or “thank you” to a drill sergeant. These words are entirely unnecessary and will probably get you in trouble. Instead of apologizing, simply say, “I have no excuse, Drill Sergeant.” If you absolutely feel you have to express gratitude to a drill sergeant, just say, “Huah, Drill Sergeant” in a heartfelt tone. “Huah” means many, many things in the Army. It’s used to express agreement, understanding, enthusiasm, acknowledgement, and many other concepts. It feels funny the first few times, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time – and when you return home, you’ll catch yourself saying it to friends and family.
11. The proper pronunciation of “huah” in the Army differs from that in the Marines and Navy. It’s said just the way it’s spelled, with none of the emphasis on the first syllable which is customary in other military branches. Thus, rather than “hoo-ahh” or “hu-hahh,” the Army’s pronunciation is simply “huah” or something like “hyahh.” Listen to the first drill sergeant you see, and you’ll hear it very quickly.
12. Don’t go anywhere without a buddy. And especially don’t ever walk up and start talking to a drill sergeant without a buddy. As long as you’re in basic training, you will never go anywhere without another person of the same sex. Anywhere. This is a security measure on both your behalf and the drill sergeant’s. There’s no getting around it, so don’t be shy. There’s no such thing as privacy in basic training.
13. There’s no “restroom” or “bathroom” in the Army. It’s a latrine. And there are no “girls” or “boys.” There are male soldiers and female soldiers. Males and females do not mix. Fraternization is strongly frowned upon. Remember the buddy rule? If you’re a female, you must have a female buddy. If you’re a male, you must have a male buddy. In order to speak to the opposite sex, each individual involved in the speaking must have a same-sex buddy. And there is absolutely no flirting allowed in Army basic training. Try at your peril.
14. You’ll go to bed around 9:00 p.m. and get up around 4:30 a.m. The Army doesn’t believe in sleeping in; don’t try it.
15. Phone calls will be strictly limited. You’ll be lucky to get ten minutes each Sunday afternoon. Letter writing, however, is fully allowed. If your friends and family send you packages, know they’ll be opened and inspected in front of the drill sergeants. Make sure everybody back home knows this, too.