The United States Army gave We Are The Mighty unprecedented access to Army Basic Training. Fondly known as “boot camp” to those who have survived, basic training is the first thing recruits will experience when they enlist. The ten-week program carries recruits through three increasingly difficult phases and covers everything from dress and appearance, physical fitness, Chemical Radioactive Biological and Nuclear (CBRN) readiness, to weapons training.
The Forge consists of a 96-hour field training exercise, a 48-mile foot march, a night infiltration course, and a 150-meter low crawl with live bullets flying over recruits’ heads.
The objective? Survive.
Operations start out in darkness — “that’s when the Army likes to win its wars.” The Forge is designed to be brutal; recruits must do a mass-casualty exercise after a simulated battle ambush. The conditions are cold and wet. They’re sleep-deprived and hauling heavy gear.
On Day 3, recruits simulate bayonet combat and hand-to-hand combat. They push through injuries and fatigue. “My shoulder hurts like hell. I’m not sure I’m going to make it through to the end,” confided Carpenter, who keeps in mind that she’s still got to pass the ACFT (Army Combat Fitness Test) when this is all over.
The final event is the 150-meter low crawl with gear while bullets fly. They are urged on by their battle buddies, by the thoughts of family at home, and even by remembering grandparents who served.
The only way out is through.