Surviving Air Force Basic Training

Air Force Basic Training Ribbons

Air Force Ribbons
Earned Ribbons at BMT.


During Basic Military Training, you have an opportunity to graduate with up to four ribbons. The first two ribbons are automatic IF you graduate and become an airman in the United States Air Force. The two ribbons are the National Defense Service Ribbon given to everyone in uniform after their initial training and the Air Force Basic Military Training Ribbon given to all United States Air Force graduates. Do you think you have what it takes to graduate Air Force Basic Military Training for four ribbons?

National Defense Service Medal

The National Defense Ribbon is automatic IF you meet the standards and graduate Air Force Basic Military Training.

  • The National Defense Service Medal is awarded to all military members who perform honorable active duty service during time periods designated by the President. The National Defense Service Medal was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 22, 1953. At the time of its creation, the medal was intended for eligible members of the Armed Forces who serviced between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954. During Vietnam and the Gulf War of 1990-91, the President issued it to all Armed Forces members.
  • However, since 9/11, eligibility was subsequently expanded to include service members who have served honorably during a designated period of national emergency or war, or to other active military members at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense.
  • The National Defense Service Medal is the oldest service medal in use by the United States Armed Forces.
NDS Ribbon

Air Force Training Ribbon

Again, if you meet the standards and graduate Air Force Basic Military Training, you earn yourself the AFBMT Ribbon. The Air Force Training Ribbon is awarded to airmen who graduate from Air Force basic training after August 14, 1974. This ribbon was authorized by the Air Force Chief of Staff on Oct.12, 1980. In December 1986, the criteria expanded and authorized the ribbon to anyone who was on active duty in December 1986, regardless of when they completed initial accession training. However, for prior enlisted who promote to the officer ranks after another accession training (basic military training, then commissioning through a program, and so forth) will entitle a member to a subsequent award denoted by an oak leaf cluster.

Air Force Basic Military Training Ribbon

Two More Earned Ribbons (Honor Graduate / Rifle Qualification)

In addition to the two "automatic" awards, there are two additional ribbons you can earn during Air Force basic training, but you have to do more than just meet the standard, you have to excel:

Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon. You will be entitled to wear the Basic Training Honor Graduate Ribbon on your uniform if you are selected as a honor graduate. This ribbon was authorized by the Chief of Staff, United States Air Force on April 3, 1976. The honor graduate is the airman who has performed with excellence in all phases of academic and military training and limited to the top 10 percent of the training flight.

BMT Honor Graduate Ribbon

Small Arms Marksmanship Ribbon. Though this is labeled a marksmanship ribbon it is only given to those who score EXPERT using the M-4 carbine rifle on the firing range since 1963. Another option in earning the award include completing the Air Force Combat Rifle Program. You can earn a single bronze star when meeting the "Expert" standard for both rifle and handgun categories. Qualification as expert in rifle requires 43 hits out of 50 rounds on simulating targets at different ranges. The target itself is 25 meters away, with silhouettes simulating targets at 50 meters to 300 meters. 10 shots are fired each from the standing-barricaded, kneeling-barricaded, and prone-unsupported positions. 20 more shots are fired from the prone-supported position with 10 being fired while wearing a gas mask.

Small Arms Ribbon (AF)

Air Force Basic Military Training has been upgraded since the attacks on September 11, 2001. After years of deployment cycles in combat zones, changes to the fitness standards, shooting standards, and overall academics have been added to create a more prepared airmen for the battlefield environment. Whether the airman will never pick up a weapon again doing his / her job specialty or not, the airmen of the 21st century are ready for a new and highly technological warfare that requires precision and perfect attention to detail.

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