By Buddy Blouin
Basic training for any branch is a shock to the system for most. Civilian life feels like a lifetime ago, and the new militaristic routine troops are forced into is created to not necessarily help you but force you to be the best warfighter that you can be. Standards are high, and troops in any branch are expected to elevate their expectations and actions to meet such goals. For Airmen joining the U.S. Air Force (USAF), this is no exception. Air Force BEAST week is a culmination of the trials you’ve been through and the skills you’ve learned. Airmen are put to the test during the four-day long exercise… or at least they were. Learn more about the changes coming to the USAF and what to expect going forward.

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What Is BEAST Week in the Air Force?

Air Force BEAST week is the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training course that brings together all of the skills Airmen are learning. It’s a simulated deployment experience that occurs on a training field in the western part of Lackland AFB. Your readiness and combat skills are tested here. In each zone, recruits are going to defend themselves from imitated attacks by chemical weapons, guerilla tactics, or conventional weapons. Field hospitals, command tents, and sleeping quarters are available in each zone. In addition to daily intelligence briefings, you will be assigned to defensive firing positions and will be responsible for guarding the camp. Additionally, recruits will be introduced to the pugil stick, a padded quarterstaff popularized in movies and game shows about basic military training (BMT).

What Week Is Beast Week in the Air Force?

Week 7 is when it all goes down; however, recruits will no longer have the same experience. The Air Force is set to end basic training "BEAST week" in favor of 36-hour field training in an effort to modernize its training program. BMT is evolving, and the new program is shortening the experience but not cutting back on its objective.

Introducing PACER FORGE

The new training program for the USAF is here to replace BEAST week, and it’s known now as PACER FORGE. This, too, is an acronym standing for Primary Agile Combat Employment Range, Forward Operations Readiness Generation Exercise. Rather than having BEAST week, which can take several days to complete, the new PACER FORGE will be training Airmen and Guardians in 36 hours. Those who undergo BMT will still be deploying to the former site of BEAST week Air Force training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Having Air Force BEAST week removed comes at a time when the focus of war is shifting. The program itself was 16 years old. A lot has happened since its inception, and even today with the modern political climate we find ourselves in, strategies are evolving. Both Airmen and Guardians will endure the training, which will now focus on using smaller teams to complete its objectives. We could speculate as to what this week will look like; however, details are being kept close, as the branch wants to keep this part of training within itself. Regardless of what happens during PACER FORGE, the branch is adamant that this isn’t simply a cut but rather a way to improve its training. Air Force basic training BEAST week may be out, but the intensity is far from gone.

Will Air Force BEAST Week Ever Resume?

Week 7 in the Air Force is looking a bit different, but will BEAST week ever return? It’s hard to say definitively, but if the new PACER FORGE ends up being a success, it feels unlikely. It makes complete sense that a shift in focus and tactics would also mean a change in how our Airmen train. "If we get it right, it will be the highlight of their BMT experience, despite only being 36 hours in length. Early feedback suggests we are absolutely on the right track," said 737th Training Group Commander Col. Jeff Pixley. Overall, Air Force BEAST week had a great run and helped create an elite fighting force that was more than capable of controlling the skies. Now, it’s PACER FORGE’s time to shine and help continue the legacy that was established before it.

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The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. Photo by C Arce 37th Training Wing Public Affairs



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