When you think of basic training in the military what do you think about? The typical movie scene of basic training showcases drill sergeants surrounding recruits in tipped hats, yelling and motivating the recruits. This movie scene is referred to as the “shark attack” within the Army.
The U.S. Army Infantry School has created a new program to use in lieu of the “shark attack.” Gone are the days when Drill Sergeants surround the new recruit and welcome them with in-your-face shouting. This generations old welcome to the Army is at its end and it’s a place a new program called “The First 100 Yards”.
The First 100 Yards was developed in early 2020 by the Infantry School and senior noncommissioned officers of the 198th Infantry Brigade, a unit that conducts Infantry One-Stations Unit Trainings. The First 100 Yards program uses training activities with the aim to instill the core warrior values, attitudes and pride of the Infantry community into the recruit. The ultimate goal with this exercise is to instill confidence in the recruits.
The reason for this change is a historical one. The “shark attack” was developed when the Army was a force made up of draftees. The “shark attack” exercise was used to determine who could stand up to the stresses the job as an infantryman would present. In response to training changes needed due to COVID-19, The First 100 Yards was developed for the all-volunteer military force.
The First 100 Yards program is a five-phase event that occurs the first day of the recruits’ 22-week infantry training. The phases include memorization of unit history and chains of command which will be used within the infantry training, conduction of a resupply mission, performing the new Army Combat Fitness Test and observing an infantry squad and weapons demonstration. The First 100 Yards ends when the drill sergeants march the new recruits to their platoon bays for two weeks of isolated training as part of the safety protocols that were developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Command Sgt. Major Robert Fortenberry, the Command Sergeant Major of the Infantry School at Fort Benning stated “this is not designed to be a hazing event but [to] promote attention to detail and urgency to execute a task in a timely manner.” Furthermore, he states that “this lays the foundation for the next 22 weeks of Infantry training.”
To learn more about The First 100 Yards, Fort Benning has released a video where Sgt. Maj. Robert Fortenberry presents the program in more detail.
Heather Walsh is a mom, Marine wife, Navy child, blogger, and lover of all things crafty and Disney. Professionally, she is a Physician Assistant and writer and has a passion for helping others to stay positive and supported. She has been writing since KidPix was on a floppy disk! She is one of three women who founded MilMomAdventures, sharing travel and lifestyle tips for the military family at www.milmomadventures.com . When she isn’t crafting with her kiddos, going on the next adventure, or writing for MilMomAdventures, she has contributed to NextGen MilSpouse, Daily Mom Military and Military Disney Tips while reheating her first cup of coffee for the tenth time.