Night infiltration training: Big night for Fort Jackson basic trainees on their way to becoming soldiers

Night infiltration training is part of “the forge,” where the trainees spend time in the field...
Night infiltration training is part of “the forge,” where the trainees spend time in the field putting into action what they’ve learned from their drill sergeants.(WIS)
Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 6:59 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (WIS) - Fort Jackson opened up its gates Tuesday night to give the community a look at a big night for basic trainees known as night infiltration training.

This phase is part of “the forge,” where the trainees spend time in the field putting into action what they’ve learned from their drill sergeants.

The trainees were operating on little sleep from the night before and spent the day in the “famously hot” South Carolina heat. They were also loaded up with gear — one soldier estimated his rucksack to weigh about 60-pounds and his bullet proof vest to add another 20-pounds.

The group of trainees out on Fort Jackson Tuesday night had been at basic training for eight weeks. The knowledge they accumulated over that time culminated in that moment, a right of passage that officially transforms a trainee to a soldier.

WIS News 10 spoke with several of the trainees while they were waiting to go to the course with their squad.

“We are all very excited because this is the last part of the forge besides the 10-mile ruck home,” one trainee told us as she waited for her squad’s turn at the obstacle course.

A ruck is a hike where someone carries their gear and a large, weighted backpack called a rucksack.

On this particular night, trainees go through an obstacle course that includes crawling through the dirt in the dark while live gunfire erupts above them.

″Basically, we’re doing a low and high crawl, 150-plus meters, staying low to the ground and learning how to maintain a calm composure through constant gunfire and artillery explosion, and making sure we’re moving as a unit,” Pfc. Nicholas Carrera said.

As the sun set Tuesday and darkness enveloped the patch of woods on the post, a group of onlookers waited behind a taped-off area as ammo began to rapidly fire from machine guns posted in tall stands.

It took more than muscles to complete the course, as many said they tapped into their mental strength to carry them through to the end.

“I’ve never been in quite that stressful of an environment before,” Pfc. Shiloh Hammit said. “[We’re] working through pain and being tired because we didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.”

Red-hot tracers were seen zipping across the pitch black night, crashing into a pool of flames on a dirt mound. The occasional flare flew up into the sky, briefly illuminating the ground below to give a glimpse of the trainees scooting across the ground on their bellies.

A spokesperson from Fort Jackson compared the sight to baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean. However, the end of the journey for the trainees isn’t the sea, it’s Hilton Field. The trainees’ ruck ends and their career with the U.S. Army officially begins as soldiers in a ceremony days before graduation when a drill sergeant hands them their patch and beret.

Trainees that came off the course told WIS News 10 it was a difficult but rewarding experience.

“Being able to see a lot of the peers that you go alongside from the first day you’ve been here, and seeing each other grow and be able to move as a unit, towards the end of your time at basic, is a pretty exciting thing to watch.”

“I’ve never done anything this mentally stressful before, and I definitely never thought I could do it, but I did,” Hammitt said.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.