Following the decision to do away with the advanced individual training platoon sergeant, the Army began remaking those instructors into drill sergeants on Friday, according to a release from the Army.
The Army plans to transition 600 platoon sergeants, over seven 10-day courses, Stephanie Slater, a spokeswoman for the Center for Initial Military Training, told Army Times on Wednesday.
“When you see somebody walking around with a drill sergeant hat on, you understand that’s the best of the best and you need to go ahead and shape up, because you know he’s going to make an on-the-spot correction,” Command Sgt. Maj. Edward W. Mitchell of CIMT said in the release.
That disconnect between drill and AIT platoon sergeants, who didn’t have the distinctive head gear or special pay of the former, meant some trainees didn’t have the same reverence for their instructors, according to senior leaders.
“In 14 weeks we have to transform them from their civilian ways – socialize them, is what I’m trying to say – into our culture, our values, our way of doing things,” Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Davenport if Training and Doctrine Command told Army Times in October. “And that drill sergeant can really drive that behavior, that process.”
The Drill Sergeant Academy at Fort Jackson will hold one transition course a month.
To complete the switch, the Army is baking AIT instructor training into the existing DS curriculum.
“The drill sergeant program of instruction is currently undergoing a revision to include responsibilities of drill sergeants in the AIT environment,” Slater said.
That includes small updates to financial and administrative guidance, rifle marksmanship, land navigation, drill and ceremony and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threat response, she added.
There will also be a general push to beef up drill sergeants’ understanding of soldier fitness, by evaluating them on multiple techniques.
“This will result in drill sergeants who have a greater breadth of knowledge base and are more proficient at conducting physical fitness training in the AIT environment,” Slater said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.