The Air Force’s Basic Military Training based out of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas is being shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the service.

This means trainees will now graduate after completing their seventh week of the program, rather than after eight and a half.

“This will allow BMT to restructure and enhance social-distancing requirements across the training campus to ensure the safety and security not just for the trainees, but for the Military Training Instructors, other active-duty members, civilians and contractors that support the mission,” the Air Education and Training Command said in a news release.

“Also, there will be rescheduling of recruit accessions to maintain social distancing mitigation efforts as to how BMT is innovating how Airmen are trained in order to meet the national security needs of the nation,” the statement said.

Upon graduation, airmen will head directly to their technical-training assignment the very next day, according to the service.

After a COVID-19 case was reported at basic training facilities at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland last month, the Air Force announced it would start a four-week repeating cycle and for basic training recruits.

The Air Force also unveiled a plan that took effect on Tuesday to reduce the number of trainees who report for duty to about 460 — a drop from the up to 800 trainees in each class under normal circumstances.

Additionally, the service said roughly 60 trainees would head to Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi rather than Lackland to conduct basic training. The set up is designed to last for at least 180 days, but is not expected to remain in place permanently.

“We are deliberately developing options to disperse the delivery of BMT during contingencies to provide surge capacity and introduce agility into the training pipeline construct,” said Maj. Gen. Andrea Tullos, Second Air Force commander. “This will also help provide relief to the military training instructor staff and ease the strain on our BMT infrastructure.”

The Air Force first extended BMT in 2018 to a total of eight and a half weeks — up from seven and half weeks. The revamped program was designed to boost the number of physical training sessions, and also encourage airmen to embody the service’s core values more quickly.

As of Monday, the Air Force said that 322 airmen have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 122 civilians, 93 dependents and 40 contractors.

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