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Navy boot camp to allow cell phones

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Diana Cossaboom, U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs functional area manager, texts with a friend at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Jan. 12, 2017. (Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dick/U.S. Air Force)
November 30, 2023

The United States Navy’s boot camp at Great Lakes, Illinois, announced Tuesday that Navy recruits will soon have limited access to cell phones during their intense period of boot camp training.

In a Tuesday Facebook post, the U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command explained it is updating its “standard operating procedure” regarding the usage of cell phones by recruits during basic military training.

“Over the next few weeks, Recruits in Divisions 033 and 034 will have limited access to their cell phones during designated periods of training in order to connect with family and friends and manage personal matters,” Navy Recruit Training Command stated.

The Navy explained that its intent is to eventually “expand this same opportunity” to all divisions of Navy recruits. The post also explained that a “Frequently Asked Questions” page will soon be unveiled to answer any questions for Navy recruits and potential recruits. Concluding its post, the Navy added, “Please be patient as we implement this new initiative.”

READ MORE: Navy 7,000 sailors short of recruitment goals

While the Navy publicly released news concerning the new policy, the military branch did not provide specific details concerning how the policy will be implemented or what limitations will be placed on recruits’ cell phone usage during training.

According to, Navy recruits have traditionally had very little access to personal phones or contact with the outside world during boot camp training. Instead of using cell phones, most Navy recruits are forced to use pay phones to make calls during the 10-week boot camp training at the Great Lakes facility.

The Navy’s announcement on Facebook quickly attracted criticism from social media users and former military members. One former Navy member wrote, “I was better off without the constant phone interaction.”

Another social media user described the Navy’s new policy as “a terrible idea” and argued that the objective of boot camp is “to harden young men and women to defend our country, to break them of old habits and toughen them up for the job ahead.”

While Navy Recruit Training Command did not explain the reason for the upcoming policy change, the announcement comes amid recruitment shortfalls across multiple branches of the U.S. military. The Navy recently fell short of its Fiscal year 2023 recruitment goal of 37,700, as it only managed to recruit 30,236 active-duty members.

As a result of the military’s recruitment issues over the past couple of years, the U.S. military has made multiple policy changes to entice young Americans to serve.