Air Force to end basic training ‘BEAST Week’ in favor of 36-hour field training

The U.S. Air Force is doing away with its “BEAST Week” training exercise in favor of a shorter version of the simulated deployment that will last only a day and a half.

“If we get it right, it will be the highlight of their BMT experience, despite only being 36 hours in length,” 737th Training Group Commander Col. Jeff Pixley said in a press release Wednesday. “Early feedback suggests we are absolutely on the right track.”

BEAST Week, which stands for Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training, was an important part of the Air Force’s initial entry training for 16 years. The training was a four-day-long deployed war exercise, with Air Force trainees deployed into a field environment where they slept in cots, were given weapons training, taught the basics of base security and fought in simulated engagements with enemy forces.

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A U.S. Air Force trainee participates in BEAST Week, which is being replaced by a shorter exercise.

However, Pixley, who took command of Air Force Basic Military Training in 2021, argued that the training was outdated for the needs of the modern Air Force.

The 36-hour training set to take its place will be called “PACER FORGE,” which stands for Primary Agile Combat Employment Range, Forward Operations Readiness Generation Exercise. Trainees will still deploy to the site of the former BEAST site at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, where the press release says they will “be put to the test with scenarios that are built to provide flexibility, promote information seeking, teamwork, decision making and are results focused.”

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“The move toward PACER FORGE is not just a renaming or re-branding of BEAST,” Pixley said. “This was a year-long effort to reimagine BEAST.”

U.S. Air Force trainees participate in BEAST Week, a deployment simulation that has been part of training for 16 years.

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Details of the new training are still sparse, though the release said PACER FORGE will be tailored with smaller teams that will be “tailored for mission generation, command and control, and base operating support functions to help meet the vision of the 2030 Enlisted Force Airman.”

Space Force trainees, who also attend basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, will go through PACER FORGE as well.

U.S. Air Force trainees take the Air Force oath as they graduate Basic Military training.

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“We want it to be something trainees consider so important and formative that they don’t spoil it for those that follow,” Pixley said. “This is not the end of an era but rather a symbolic change to develop capable and ready Airmen and Guardians … anytime, anywhere.”