Full-Time soldier training
All full time soldiers in the Army must first complete Soldier Training at the Army Recruit Training Centre Kapooka, near Wagga Wagga. The duration of the Basic Training course is 80 days.
The one page outline of the Australian Recruit Course is downloadable (PDF, 160KB). This provides recruits and parents a day by day breakdown of the key training events.
Please visit our FAQ page for a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions.
Information on the Physical Fitness Assessments can be found on the Army website.
Background & Outline of the Army Recruit Training Course
The 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1 RTB) is part of the Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC), which is located at Kapooka, just off the Olympic Highway, approximately 10 kms south-west of Wagga Wagga, NSW. 1 RTB is responsible for the basic training and administration of the Australian Army’s recruits prior to them commencing Initial Employment Training (IET) as they move forward with their career within the Australian Defence Force.
The 80 day course is physically challenging and mentally demanding. The course is designed to allow the vast majority of recruits that commence training to progress through an ever increasing level of physical and mental challenges, and to ‘march-out’ on the scheduled date. Due to training setbacks, injury or personal circumstances some recruits take longer to complete the course. Where possible, these recruits are provided with extra training and assistance they require. A small number of recruits who commence training find that service in the Army is not for them, and will decide not to continue training. The program is constantly evolving and subject to change to reflect legislation and Army requirements; consequently, there is no guarantee that a soldier will graduate and march-out 80 days after the commencement of the course, although most will.
The Australian Government first acquired 878 hectares of land at Kapooka in 1942 to establish an Army Engineer training camp. 1 RTB was raised in November, 1951 and has been in operation in this location ever since. Blamey Barracks, the current permanent camp, was constructed during 1965 and 1966 to cater for the re-introduction on National Service and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
The nature and intensity of the course at 1 RTB leaves little time for recruits to be in regular contact with family and friends, although, there are planned periods when phone calls can be made. Training begins early in the morning and continues until late at night, and is seven days a week. The standard recruits must meet is high and requires both male and female recruits to achieve the same standards in the vast majority of tasks. The only exception to this are the preliminary and recruit fitness assessments, both of which have different standards for male and female recruits: all recruits need to achieve the same standards in the Physical Employment Standards Assessment. Although course content may change from time to time to reflect changing legislation and training requirements, recruits can broadly expect to follow the program below.
During the initial week of training, new recruits are inducted into the Army. Induction includes physical training (PT), initial issue of equipment, military law and discipline, military administration and personal administration necessary to complete training. Physical training during this week involves a pre-enlistment fitness test to ensure recruits have the base fitness required to undertake training safely. Recruits that do not pass the re-test of the PFA are transferred into a re-training platoon to meet the standard before progressing to Week 1. Initial equipment issues include the Army Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPCU), physical training uniform and various field equipment which carry weapons and other items. Military administration includes medical checks, inoculations, mental health training, occupational health and safety briefings, and introductions to various staff of 1 RTB and gender and culture awareness training. Personal administration during this week focuses on ensuring recruits know where and how to clean, maintain and administer themselves, their equipment and accommodation.
Induction week builds the basic knowledge required for recruits to begin assimilation into the Army and Australian Defence Force. This week is stressful for recruits and staff alike. For recruits the tempo is high and many experience a culture shock due to the change from civilian to military life, home sickness and in many cases anxiety of the unknown ahead. All of these emotions are normal and the Platoon Staff, Padres and mental health professionals at 1 RTB will help them work through these feelings as they build the teamwork within their platoon that will see them through training.
Early in the week recruits are taught about injury prevention, are introduced to circuit training, running and endurance marching. They commence initial training of the standard rifle used in the Australian Army, the F88 Austeyr; and are taught all aspects of its safety, use, maintenance and operation. Recruits are assessed on their knowledge of the F88 safety precautions. They are taught some basic drill movements such as turns, inclines and salutes. They undertake self management and resilience training and further aspects of military law. Recruits also receive further inoculations.
The focus for this week of training is to apply the marksmanship principles when firing the weapon and to perfect their aiming skills. Recruits are assessed on their skills and knowledge of the F88 before they commence live fire on the weapon range. A very small percentage of recruits do not pass this assessment and therefore are transferred to a re-training platoon for specific skills training to enable them to fulfill this assessment. This week they will also commence learning to assemble, operate and maintain the Army’s radios. PT this week consists of endurance marching, circuit training as well as a 2.4km time trialed run and a swim test. They receive lessons on military customs, ranks and ceremonial procedures.
By week three recruits are working with and assisting each other with personal revision during the evenings to develop group cohesion and learning. Recruits learn survival swim strokes, are introduced to interval training and continue with endurance marching. After the previous week on the ranges recruits improve their marksmanship abilities while concurrently learning and revising more advanced applications with the F88 and radio usage. They spend a day on the high wire confidence course and flying fox where they are taught to follow orders in an unfamiliar environment, to work as a member of a team and develop their confidence and resilience. They are assessed on their knowledge of communications equipment and learn about military customs and the role of corps within the Army.
The focus of this week is refining weapon training and shooting the F88 Austeyr. Firing the F88 continues utilising different firing positions and at moving targets. This is practiced at the indoor range (a weapons training simulator) before continuing on the outdoor range (again using live ammunition). This practice enables all recruits to obtain the basic shooting skills in which to fire their weapon in support of themselves and their platoon. Lessons are given on the theory, operation and maintenance of night vision apparatus. PT this week includes Fartlek and Interval training, circuit and endurance marching. Local leave in Wagga Wagga is granted on Saturday.
The week starts by consolidating lessons on military history and customs with a trip to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. This enables recruits to make a link between those that have served in the Army before them and the legacy that they will inherit when they march out of 1 RTB. They are introduced to the F89 Light Support Weapon (LSW), a belt fed automatic weapon carried within a rifle section. There are lessons on the history of the Australian Army and extensive sessions on developing self-awareness, Army values and character and development. PT this week includes an upper body circuit and an endurance march. Local leave to Wagga Wagga is granted on Sunday after the church service.
The focus for week 6 is Army First Aid training. Over the following three and a half days recruits undertake intensive first aid training and are assessed in all applicable aspects of first aid. Recruits are introduced to the use and operation of Kevlar protection equipment. Navigational theory commences this week where recruits learn to plot location and measure distance on a map. They also are taught how to select and maintain a bearing using the service compass. Inoculations are also administered this week. PT this week consists of a pool and battle preparation circuits.
This week recruits are introduced to explosive devices such as Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and grenades. They are taught how to safely handle, maintain and operate this equipment. Lessons in practical navigation in difficult or trackless areas occur. Drill practice this week see recruits learning drill movements in slow time. Further inoculations are administered this week. This week during PT, recruits will be introduced to rope climbing and how to correctly complete live lifts and to stretcher carry. Endurance marches increase and obstacle courses continue as well as advanced lessons on nutrition.
This is a more physical week, commencing with a Recruit Fitness Assessment (RFA). The RFA is a general fitness test. A small percentage of recruits do not pass every component of this assessment and are transferred to a re-training platoon for specific skills training to enable them to fulfill this assessment. Circuit training continues, further rope climbing skills and survival swimming. Midweek sees the much anticipated Bayonet Fighting Day. Practical navigation in difficult or trackless terrain is assessed. Time is also spent on developing life skills, developing as a team member and goal setting. Local leave to Wagga Wagga is granted on Saturday.
Week 9 also commences with a fitness assessment. Physical Employment Standards Assessment (PESA) is a military employment assessment which requires many weeks of training that has been conducted in the previous weeks. Once again, a small percentage of recruits do not pass every component of this assessment and therefore are transferred to a re-training platoon for specific skills training to enable them to pass this requirement. The remainder of the week is spent in the field where the theory lessons on patrolling, field-craft, navigation and teamwork are put into practice. Skills that are developed here are an essential component for developing the individual within the platoon in a field environment. During the field training, recruits do not have access to phones or other methods of communicate outside their small team. This conditions them to the realities of Army field work in Australia and on operations.
Week 10 continues to see the recruits practice their training within a field environment. Recruits build from operating in small section teams, and now carry out operating as a platoon. The final field assessment of this period, the ‘Challenge’, is on Friday morning. The Challenge includes all of the values, attributes, skills and knowledge they have been taught whilst at 1 RTB. This final assessment is physically and mentally demanding on the individual and platoon. On completion of the Challenge, most recruits are on an emotional high, having been pushed to their limit and, in the vast majority cases, succeeding. Saturday and Sunday are devoted to the revision and the cleaning and maintenance of equipment and barracks in preparation for the march-out on Friday of Week 11.
This week is devoted to ensuring that the finer points of drill, as well as dress and equipment, are as close to perfection as possible in preparation for the march-out parade on Friday. Local leave will follow the parade (not overnight) and for most of Saturday. Final clean up and maintenance is carried out on Sunday with soldiers departing for the next stage in their careers on Monday. Many families that come to the march-out parade also attend the Sunday morning church service at 1 RTB as a final chance to see their loved one before they depart for their Initial Employment Training.
Throughout training, recruits are taught Army’s values of Courage, Initiative, Respect and Teamwork to help their decision making. Other training instills loyalty and honor, physical and moral courage, dedication to duty, compassion and honesty. These values and attributes build the core of the Australian Soldier. Recruits are also taught about safety with equipment, in training and in the environment; they participate in a variety of physical training several times each week, and are given the opportunity to practice their religious beliefs every Sunday.
Recognition of Progression
As recruits progress through their course they are allocated a coloured tab, worn on their epaulette, to indicate their level of training. On arrival, recruits wear a red tab to indicate that their progress has just begun. At the end of Week 3, and provided that they have been successful in their assessments to that point, recruits progress to wearing a blue tab. At the end of Week 7 recruits wear a gold tab indicating that they have successfully negotiated most of their course and are focusing on their major field exercise and training for their march-out parade.
The wearing of different coloured tabs is also quick indication to staff and visitors of the level of skill and knowledge that a particular recruit has and an indication among recruits how far their peers have progressed.
Assessment is carried out in a variety of ways. Individual performance is noted, and sometimes commented upon, during each lesson. Recruits are regularly given formal counselling and feedback on their performance and progress at regular intervals throughout the course. Formative assessment (a practice assessment) for many subjects give recruits an indication of how they are performing in an assessment situation and an opportunity to attempt an assessment without consequence if they are unsuccessful. Summative assessment is the final assessment for a particular subject.
Revision of subject matter is provided throughout the course. Failure to achieve success in a summative assessment may mean that a recruit is removed from the course to be given remedial training, the recruit will be re-assessed and, if successful and depending on the circumstances, either rejoin their course or inserted into a following course at the same point of training at which they were removed. Recruits may be retested for fitness assessments at a later date provided they are not hampered by injury. Injured recruits may need to participate in a rehabilitation program and then be inserted into a follow on course. If a recruit is unsuccessful in fulfilling their assessment requirements they may be discharged from the ADF.
The staff at 1 RTB have all been individually selected by their Corps to fill leadership and instructional positions and have successfully passed the Recruit Instructor Course (RIC). These Platoon Commanders, Platoon Sergeants and Section Commanders remain with the platoon for the full 12 weeks of training. They begin their day at 05:30 in the morning and normally do not finish until 10:30 at night. During the day, the Platoon Staff and other support staff deliver lessons, look after the recruits, assess standards, and in the evening spend time assisting in revision and delivering formal lessons. Each member of staff invests heavily in their platoon of recruits with their proudest achievement seeing the recruits march-out in front of their loved ones.
Completion of the recruit course at 1 RTB is a big achievement and something to be proud of for all those who do so. 1 RTB provides instruction which is both professional and of a high standard. Recruits are pushed hard but are well looked after physically, medically, morally and spiritually, and ready to serve their country in a Defence Force that is internationally recognised for its high standard of training, commitment and integrity.
For more information about careers after soldier training go to Defence Jobs.