How to Survive Air Force Basic Training Inspections

Why Inspections Count in AFBMT

Soldiers Salute the Flag at Sunset
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During the first week of Air Force Basic Training, your training instructor will explain how to get ready for a dormitory inspection. Your dormitory must be kept spotlessly clean at all times, and your area (bunk, locker, and drawers) will be inspected.

In Air Force basic training, everything has its place, right down to an eighth of an inch. Your underwear must be in its place. Your uniforms must be hung in their designated place. Your shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc., must be clean and in their exact place.

A day or two after your training instructor explains the standards, you and your flight members will try very, very hard, and you will fail the first inspection miserably. Not to worry, you'll get another chance to please your T.I. later that same week when he or she does a follow-up inspection. You'll get plenty of chances to get the dormitory inspection right throughout your entire stay. 

Graded Inspections and Red Line Inspections

Some of these periodic inspections will be graded inspections, meaning that they count toward your final basic training grade and honor graduate qualifications. Other inspections will be just for practice, and for the T.I. to remind you of who's in charge.

Around week three or four, you'll undergo the dreaded Red Line Inspection. By this time, you'll have been inspected by your own T.I. several times, and you'll be feeling cocky. However, the Red Line inspection is graded, and it's performed by your T.I.'s bosses. They cut no slack at all. Pretty much everyone will get some demerits during this inspection, no matter how well you think you're prepared. Some recruits are even recycled as a result of this inspection.

Inspection Tips and Tricks

Strings pop out everywhere, especially after dry-cleaning, so make sure you inspect them meticulously. 

Keep two sets of BDUs untouched in your wall locker on a serviceable hanger, ready for inspection with all of the strings clipped. Check them just before inspection.

Your clothing drawer has towels, underwear, brown t-shirts and socks. Everything must show signs of use (except the pantyhose), so use them as little as possible, preferably once if you can, then wash it and properly fold and place it in your drawer so that you can leave it like that for inspections.

Early on your flight will learn how to conduct dust drills. It's pretty much dusting your dorm top to bottom with your hands and on your hands and knees. One of your flight members will yell out the commands, and the rest of the flight will echo the command as they do it. Echoing is something you learn to do really well and really often in BMT. 

Training Instructor Inspection Tactics

Don't even think of putting clean clothes in your laundry bag so that you don't have to display them for the inspection. The T.I.s are well aware of this trick. In fact, sometimes these sneaky T.I.s will purposely allow recruits to get away with this during the first few weeks of basic, just so they think it works, then pounce during the Red Line Inspection, catching half the flight.

One recruit tells of how his flight could never get the floors shiny enough to satisfy the T.I.

They would buff it, and buff it, and buff it, but using the liquid wax they were required to use, it just wasn't possible to get it shiny. They weren't allowed to use paste wax because it was a fire hazard. After they had been chewed out on the floor a dozen times or so, one of them bought a can of paste wax from the Troop Mall. They hid it behind a ceiling tile. The next time they waxed the floor we used the paste wax, and the T.I. was suddenly happy. They were all scared because they had never seen him smile before. They continued to use the paste wax throughout the remainder of basic training. On the day before graduation, the T.I. walked in, called them to attention, then walked directly to the ceiling tile, poked it with his baton, and the wax fell down. He calmly said, "I just wanted you guys to know that you weren't getting away with nothing that I didn't want you to get away with."