BMT: Flag Conditions and Hydration

In my last post on the BEAST, I mentioned “Black Flag.”  No, I wasn’t referring to the punk band associated with Henry Rollins.  I’m talking about the lovely weather you’re about to experience when your truck off to Lackland AFB.

Flag Conditions

While it may seem otherwise some days, your safety and well-being is one of the top concerns of your MTI.  Throughout the squadron and the base, you’ll notice solid-colored flags flying from flagpoles.  You’ll also hear MTIs make announcements like:

Attention in the squadron, attention in the dormitory!
Attention in the squadron, attention in the dormitory!
WBGT 91.3°.
Black Flag!
The weather dictates the activities around the base.  MTIs are required to be mindful of the current flag conditions, and you’ll want to do likewise.  Of course, if you’re doing BMT during winter and spring, this may not apply to you.  If you’re fortunate to be in Lackland during the summer months, as I was, this will rule your experience.
Screen+shot+2012 01 28+at+10.57.24+PM 
Pretty self-explanatory.  At your squadron, there will be a flag hanging outside each entrance of the tunnel, on the east and west sides, one from the main flag pole, and one out near the PT and drill pads.  CQ will have a runner change them when the conditions dictate.
When Black Flag hits, you won’t march when outside of the squadron’s overhang.  So, if you’re on the way to the mini-mall or any of the other buildings outside of the squadron, you’ll get to march at ease.  If you’re at BEAST, you’ll get to remove your Kevlar vest and helmet.  Needless to say, we used to pray for Black Flag some days.
photo Air Force BMT: Dust Down

Hydration Schedule

One of the first things the MTI who picks you up will have you do when you get into the dorm is to fill your canteen in the latrine sink.  Did you just double take and re-read that?  Yes, you’ll be drinking bathroom sink water for the next 8.5 weeks.  Forget about your Smart Water and your Brita pitcher back home.  Heck, forget about kitchen tap water – bathroom water it is!  Not only will you drink it, but you’ll drink a lot of it.  The web canteen belt I’ve mentioned is something you’ll be wearing at all times. It holds your canteen and your satchel (an ABU-print pouch that carries your BMTSG and your study materials).
Every morning at PT, you’ll be reminded of the hydration schedule:
All trainees are reminded to drink
1/2 to 3/4 a canteen per hour,
not to exceed 12 canteens per day.
This will seem nearly impossible at first.  It’s significantly more water than most of us are used to drinking on a regular basis.  You’re pounding all of this water, then going into the dining facility and being required to drink two additional beverages at every meal.  You’ll be reminded to take sips of water, versus chugging, which can contribute to nausea.  Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s not uncommon to see trainees throw up after every meal for 0 weeks.  If one person in your flight yells “hydrate,” everyone is supposed to follow that directive.
BMT: Flag Conditions and Hydration
If you become ill, one of the first questions the MTIs will ask you is how many canteens you’ve had that day.  They expect you to follow the hydration schedule, and you should.  Be careful about the next words out of your mouth when they ask you that question.  It can be difficult to keep track of how many canteens you’ve had, so make sure you’re sipping regularly.  Your body will need it in the hot Texas heat.  You’re working harder than most have ever worked, under stressful conditions and minimal sleep.  Plus, regardless of the heat, you’ll be in full uniform (ABUs) with the sleeves down.  You won’t be rolling those sleeves up until you hit tech school.
The hydration schedule is absolutely essential when you’re at BEAST, as I mentioned in my last post.  You’ll be tallying the number of canteens you finish, which makes it a lot easier to maintain.
Hydration is everyone’s responsibility, and the MTIs will be none too pleased if you put yourself out of commission by failing to maintain the hydration schedule.  You’re the property of Uncle Sam, and you need to be taking care of yourself so that you can continue to train on schedule.  Dehydration can get you sent to the 319th (the squadron where injured trainees are sent), and you’ll have to recover before you can be sent back to another flight to resume training.  You don’t want this.  You’re only dragging out your training longer than 8.5 weeks, and you’ll return to a flight that’s not “yours,” possibly not even in your same squadron.  If you made any friends in your original flight, kiss them goodbye.  A girl in our flight was sent to the 319th for a month for dehydration.  A month.  Trust me, you don’t want to be at BMT longer than you have to.
One important thing to remember is that your hydration today affects your body tomorrow.  You can’t gulp water right before a run day and expect to be “good.”  You should’ve been drinking enough water the day before.  It’s especially important to be maintaining the hydration schedule the day before any big, physically demanding event, such as PT tests.
Cheers, future trainees!  Drink up!


  • RdngMachn87said

    Hey Erin, I was wondering. With drinking so much water, was it an issue with having to pee a lot? I find that when I drink more water than usual I have to go more than usual. If it is an issue, how did you deal with it? I am leaving 21August and am so glad I came across your site. Thank you for helping us girls out!

  • Erinsaid

    @RdngMachn87 – You'll be peeing all the time, trust me. Make sure you go before you start marching anywhere. As for classes, you're allowed to leave if it's an emergency and you've gotta go. Otherwise, you'll get breaks where you can go back to the dorm quickly and pee.Congratulations on your upcoming ship date!! Glad to help! 🙂

  • RdngMachn87said

    Thank you Erin, and I wish you safety with the wildfires.p.s. You have given me confidence that I may just make it through BMT. my mom said she wanted me in the honor grad line @ graduation and I told her it was unlikely but I would give it my best shot.

  • Erinsaid

    @RdngMachn87 0 Thanks so much! We finally made some progress yesterday, and I'm hoping it keeps up! I didn't give you any confidence – you've had it within you this whole time, and clearly your mom sees that too. You just have to believe in that internal voice that's telling you that you CAN do it! Best of luck to you!