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 Soldiers’ health and safety are of the utmost importance, and numerous policies and procedures are in effect on Fort Jackson to
ensure it. However, the recent global pandemic has caused a re-evaluation of the existing health and safety strategies. This article describes some Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP); planning factors; and successful approaches to containing COVID-19 during Basic Combat Training (BCT). There are three distinct phases to the containment of COVID-19: pre-bubble, bubble establishment, and maintaining the bubble.
First and foremost, the modification of the training schedule allows for the creation of a bubble. Rather than the previous 10-week basic training program, a new 2+8 model was adopted. (The two-week time frame was empirically determined.) Before creating the 2+8 model, BCT was divided into three phases: Red, White, and Blue. In the 2+8 model, BCT is divided into four phases: Yellow, Red, White, and Blue. Trainees
are provided the same high level of training in a COVID-friendly way. Yellow Phase is the first two weeks of training when a “bubble” is created within each battalion (BN). A bubble is a group of people who interact with each other but minimize their interactions with individuals outside of that group. The process of creating the bubble begins at the reception BN.
At Fort Jackson, before a BCT BN pick-up
of Trainees from 120th AG BN (Fort Jackson’s reception BN), an initial COVID-19 test is conducted on all Trainees. Trainees must meet
two requirements to be picked up by a BCT BN. Trainees must be non-symptomatic (not showing possible signs of COVID-19) and have a negative COVID-19 swab test result. A BCT BN picks up trainees meeting these two criteria for immediate training. Any Trainee that is symptomatic or tests positive, whether symptomatic or not, will be sent to a COVID bay for a minimum 14-day recovery period. Upon recovery and medical clearance, these Trainees, referred to as Green Beads, are shipped to a BCT BN to start training. To be clear, Green Beads are Trainees who have recovered from COVID-19, are healthy enough to begin/resume training, and are believed to have COVID-19 antibodies.
Bubble Establishment:
The first (of potentially multiple) Controlled Monitoring (CM) periods occurs during Yellow Phase. Yellow Phase and the re-consolidation process that follows are the most critical points in containing the spread of COVID-19 in BCT. One of the significant planning factors is to minimize the number of Trainees in each bay and to allow
for a minimum of six feet of separation between
the Trainees while they are sleeping. For bays that typically hold 65 Trainees, the number is reduced to close to 32 Trainees. The critical concept in filling
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