Cell Phone Use in Army Basic Training

When and How You Can Use Your Cellular Device

Image shows three people in khaki t-shirts, dog tags and military pants all saluting. Text reads: "Cell phone use in basic training: what to know: Voice calls only–no text, video, or photo exchanges; cannot keep phone with you; before heading to boot camp: erase any photographs or videos which could be considered lewd or pornographic; your cellphone may be inspected during the initial briefing, and you may be required to sign a policy agreement"

Image by Chloe Giroux © The Balance 2019

Recruits are no longer required to leave behind what has become a standard part of life for most adults during the Army's basic military training, but these boot camp–bound soldiers, still aren't able to use their cell phones in the same ways they did as civilians. The Army's cell phone policy for recruits is pretty tough.

Changes recruits can expect in day-to-day cell phone use include most training platoons allowing only voice calls, no text, video, or photo exchanges, and you won't be allowed to have your phone with you at all times as you did in civilian life.

Before heading to boot camp, erase any photographs or videos which could be considered lewd or pornographic. Your cell phone may be inspected during the initial briefing, and you may be required to sign a policy agreement.

Sergeants Dictate Cell Phone Use

Historically, standard Army basic training rules allowed for well-performing platoons to be rewarded with phone calls home on Sundays. To take advantage of this, recruits would have to stand in line at pay phones and call using a calling card or call collect. Phone calls were generally limited to just a few minutes to make sure everyone in the platoon had a chance to call.

Recruits in many Army basic training platoons are now allowed to use personal cell phones to call friends and families, send text messages, and update their social media status. Under the new policy, cell phones are kept by the drill sergeant (DS) and returned to recruits for a period each Sunday if the DS feels the platoon has earned the privilege. Of course, recruits who don't have cell phones are still allowed to use the old pay phones, but the time allowed to make calls is still limited for all recruits, regardless of method, to between 10 and 30 minutes.

Evolving Policies for Communications From Basic Military Training

One of the reasons the military is so successful is their willingness to take full advantage of new technology. Most adult members of our society carry a cell phone these days, and post-basic military recruits are generally no exception. As a result, cases of military members in Iraq and Afghanistan using personal cell phones to pass on vital military information to their commands when conventional military communication means failed are somewhat common and have very likely saved lives.

Other military services may or may not allow cell phone use during their basic training programs. As communications methods evolve, so will these policies.