ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is expanding basic training from nine weeks to 10, officials said Wednesday.

The program is a pilot effort that will begin Nov. 2 and last until about March 21, Gen. William S. Wallace, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., said in a news release announcing the changes.

“Then we’ll go back to our normal nine-week basic training for the rest of the fiscal year,” Wallace said in the release.

The Army is trying the program to see what effect adding a week has on potential delays in scheduling soldiers for their Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, Wallace said.

Every soldier has to go on to AIT after completing basic in order to master his military occupational specialty, or Army job. AIT can last from a few weeks to the better part of a year, depending on the complexity of the specialty.

Currently, recruits are taught 40 “warrior tasks” and go through 11 battle drills, Army officials said.

The Army is not planning any additional training tasks or drills during the additional week of basic, Wallace said.

Instead, Wallace said in the release, “What we’re going to add is time [for] the drill sergeant, so that he can ensure that the individuals have mastered those tasks that they need to master, before they go on to AIT.”

That is the sole purpose of the extra week, Wallace said.

There is one additional benefit to the extra week, TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. John Sparks said in the release: more time for physical fitness training.

Overall, Wallace said, he expects the extra week “will provide to the AIT commander a better physically fit, more mature, more disciplined soldier who understands the tasks to master better than he does right now.”

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