For far too long, AIT platoon sergeants have had a stressful, time-consuming and, ultimately, thankless role in the Army. While these soldiers walk and talk like drill sergeants, they don't wear the spiffy campaign hats. They don't earn the shiny drill sergeant badge. And the worst part: They don't earn any extra pay.
Since 2007, the service has wrestled with how to define the job and recognize those brave souls who answer the call. The job was created when Big Army believed drill sergeants were too in-your-face, too stern for AIT. Leadership believed AIT needed to be an introduction for new soldiers to the NCO Corps. Their AIT platoon sergeants were to be the ambassadors and the mentors.
While this sounds like a significant assignment, it was ill conceived. A 2012 Army study would later conclude that AIT platoon sergeants lacked clear duties and responsibilities. They endured an imbalance between work and personal life and isolation on the job was contributing to stress.
Then, in 2014, the Army launched a campaign to make the job more rewarding (or at least sound that way). It was trumpeted as a career-boosting assignment, and there was talk of a new special badge (an initiative that is now dead). Simply put: soldiers in this job never got any real perks.
But now we finally have an idea that makes sense — getting rid of AIT platoon sergeants and replacing them with drill sergeants.
While the Army is still weighing its options, the evidence is all right there — more than a decade's worth. The service must quickly dispense with the AIT platoon sergeant title. All soldiers in that role today should be made drill sergeants. They should earn a campaign hat, a badge, and that sweet, sweet special duty assignment pay ($300 a month).
It's also good for the Army at large. After all, there's a complaint that today's new breed of millennial soldier lacks discipline. It seems that in-your-face leadership style wasn't such a bad idea.