FORT JACKSON, S.C. – “Drill Sergeants are master trainers, master
time managers, and master personnel managers,” said Command Sgt.
Maj. Lamont Christian, commandant of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant
Academy. “They become an asset to every command when they return to
their organizations, and that's a part of the drill sergeant
The change in title from Drill Sergeant School to
Drill Sergeant Academy centers on teaching drill sergeant candidates
“how to think” versus “what to think,” as explained by Christian.
The title change is also due to the fact that there are four schools
taught within the institution: the Drill Sergeant Academy, Drill
Sergeant Recertification Course, Advanced Individual Training
(A.I.T.) Platoon Sergeant Course, and the A.I.T. Platoon Sergeant
The morning sun peaks over the rooftop of the Drill Sergeant Academy hitting the black letters from across the way, “This We'll Defend”. The drill sergeant statue overlooks the physical fitness field at Fort Jackson, Aug. 12, 2015. The statue is dedicated to the founding of the Army's first Drill Sergeant School and the first class of Army Drill Sergeants. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Army photos by Satomi Mack-Martin)
“Over the last year, there has been an adaptation of the
Army learning model, and we've transitioned from a method of
training where we focused on the delivery of information,
whether written or orally,” says Christian. “But now as
we've made this paradigm shift, we focus on the performance
measure which has actually made the course harder for the
individual because they have to demonstrate their
understanding of how to teach the subject.”
commandant said that for over 50 years, drill sergeant
candidates ran through the course as if they were a private
going through basic training for a second time. The focus
was on the candidate performing the task. With the new
process, the responsibility and accountability for training,
coordination and execution of the training is placed on the
“Within 72 hours, drill sergeant candidates are placed
in a controlled environment where they are actually in
charge,” said Christian. “For example, with the Victory
Confidence Tower, we instruct them on how to negotiate the
tower and obstacles themselves and at a certain point, we
rotate the students to where they assume the safety position
with placing the harnesses on and helping their peers
negotiate the obstacle.”
The commandant went on to
say that this approach in training allows the candidate to
demonstrate and replicate the duties of a drill sergeant.
The point is, “How do you overcome your fear and how do you
help a civilian overcome theirs?” says Christian.
overall model to the Drill Sergeant Academy is to plan,
coordinate, and execute the training, which is done through
repetition. After candidates have had an opportunity to
observe what “right looks like,” as explained by the
commandant, they then begin planning the training
themselves, coordinating it, and executing the training.
“Preparation breeds success,” said Sgt. Maj. Edward
Roderiques, the academy's deputy commandant. “Candidates
that have gone through some sort of Drill Sergeant
Preparation Program (DSPP) have a better chance at
Many drill sergeant Army Reserve units
have a DSPP geared towards mentoring and preparing
candidates prior to attending the academy with tasks such as
memorizing the drill sergeant creed and training modules,
and perfecting drill and ceremony procedures.
Maj. Roderiques suggests that unit leaders can better
prepare their candidates by concentrating on areas that give
them the most difficulty opposed to areas that do not. He
also highlights encouraging candidates to practice being an
assistant instructor during physical readiness training.
Roderiques said, “Assistant PRT instructors are the ones
walking around the formation making on-spot corrections and
ensuring that the proper form and technique is being
conducted on each exercise. They must master all aspects of
The Soldier Support Institute and the drill
sergeant component are currently developing an interactive
software program that units and soldiers can use in
preparation for the course, says Roderiques.
way to get drill sergeant candidates prepared for the
course, as stated by both Command Sgt. Maj. Christian and
Sgt. Maj. Roderiques, is to use a recent Drill Sergeant
Academy graduate as a mentor or guide for the candidates
within a unit's DSPP.
“Drill Sergeant duty is a
gratifying opportunity for any leader who inspires to stay
in the military and excel as a leader,” says Christian.
“Once you're off the trail, you're still not really off the
trail. You take the knowledge, skill, and the attributes
with you from learning to be a drill sergeant.
would say, just Google images of command sergeant majors,”
says Christian. “Count 10 photos. With every 10 photos, you
are likely to see a former drill sergeant,” he said.
“Everyone benefits from a former drill sergeant. Patience,
understanding complex ways, and finding a solution is what
drill sergeants and former ones bring to an organization.”
By U.S. Army Satomi Mack-Martin
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