Skip to comments.So long, drill sergeant: Noncommissioned officers for MI training get hat, name changes
Posted on 02/02/2008 6:53:18 AM PST by SandRat
FORT HUACHUCA For more than two decades, drill sergeants have had a major hand in developing soldiers going through military intelligence training on this Southern Arizona Army post.
That ended Friday.
It doesnt mean noncommissioned officers will no longer be standing in front of students, they just have a new name and will wear the hats of all soldiers.
Instead of hearing student soldiers say, Yes, drill sergeant, now sergeants will hear, Yes, platoon sergeant.
The de-hatting ceremony took place in the gym of the Eifler Physical Fitness Center, where soldiers in training sat in company formations in the bleachers.
Within a half hour, the 24 attending drill sergeants went from wearing the distinctive hats to the beret. For the male drill sergeants, the headgear that evolved from the 1883 campaign hat to the present day modified Montana peak type initially adopted by the Army in 1911 and abandoned in 1942. For the female drill sergeants, the Australian-styled bush hat.
The male drill sergeant program began in 1964, and the female program began in 1972.
Before taking off the drill hats, the last fort drill sergeant of the year, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Taylor, recited the Drill Sergeant Creed, a pledge to lead soldiers in becoming highly motivated, well disciplined, physically and mentally fit individuals.
All the NCOs are part of the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade.
Today brings about an end of an era with the final transition of drill sergeants from our advanced individual training here at Fort Huachuca, and the re-establishment of platoon sergeants within the Intelligence Corps training base, said Col. Dennis Perkins, the 111ths commander.
The transition already occurred throughout other Training and Doctrine Command sites last month, he said. Drill sergeants have been discontinued at TRADOC installations, except for where basic and advance individual training is done at the same place, such as for military police and infantry.
For 22 years, drill sergeants have been a big part of the Intelligence Corps training concept, and they have been a proven asset in turning out soldiers who are second to none, Perkins said.
As we know, the nature of modern warfare has evolved and our Army has been in continuous war for over six years now, he said.
The change from drill sergeants to platoon sergeants will not degrade the training, but will continue with the high standards of the Army, he said.
The purpose of the Armys transition to platoon sergeants today is to create a learning environment that causes soldiers to mature faster by requiring them to assume more responsibility for their actions and duties. It is a continuation of the phased approach of soldierization which will prepare them for immediate assimilation into their first operation unit, Perkins said.
And standards arent lowered when selecting platoon sergeants.
Platoon sergeants are handpicked or volunteer and are screened by the Department of the Army just as the drill sergeant, Perkins said.
While the drill sergeants, who will continue duty at Army basic training sites, are centrally trained, platoon sergeants will go through a special course at the different TRADOC installations such as Fort Huachuca. The courses will include obtaining certifications in level one Army combatives, combat lifesaver and others requirements, which will be passed to the student soldiers.
We will expect nothing less of our platoon sergeant leaders than we did of our drill sergeants. We will expect the same discipline, follow me leadership style and motivation from these leaders, Perkins said.
More will be expected from the soldier, who will be held more accountable for their actions and accomplishments of their requirements, Perkins said.
He took time to applaud the family members of the former drill sergeants for understanding their long hours at work.
As part of the ceremony, family members walked up and stood behind their soldiers . Once the drill sergeant hats were removed, they were handed to the family members or friends.
As the family members and friends walked back to their seats, one little girl, Kiersten Richens, wore her fathers drill sergeant hat.
After that part of the ceremony ended, another 10 soldiers marched onto the gym floor to join the group as newly designated platoon sergeants, where they all joined brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Roberts in reciting a specially written Platoon Sergeant Creed, the words of which were composed by Roberts and some of the NCOs.
After the ceremony, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Stober, of Company E, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, said that except for the headgear, nothing will change.
He and the other platoon sergeants still have the responsibility of molding younger soldiers, which will mean getting into their faces on occasion to help them understand right from wrong.
Sgt. 1st Class Lekeshia McElrath, of Company D, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, agreed.
The big difference is that once a student soldiers sees a NCO walking to them, it will take time to recognize they were former drill sergeants and now are platoon sergeants.
It might be easier to sneak up on them, she said with a laugh.
For two of the soldiers going through training who are husband and wife, they dont expect any change in the leadership role coming from the platoon sergeants.
For Pfc. Amber Evan and Pvt. Derek Evan, who are Company F, 309th Military Intelligence Battalion, training to be human intelligence collectors, the training will go on.
Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca commander Maj. Gen. John M. Custer attended the ceremony. He said the change from drill sergeant to platoon sergeant will not change the important leadership role of the NCOs charged in training the students.
The same Army values will be instilled, Custer said.
HERALD/REVIEW senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4614.
The Platoon Sergeant Creed, composed by 111th Military Intelligence Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Roberts and other noncommissioned officers reads as follows:
I am a platoon sergeant.
I must demonstrate the beliefs, values and performance measure consistent with the command climate and Army culture.
My approach and attitude should be characterized by follow me and join me.
I am a proud example of our Army and I will do everything I can to assist soldiers in achieving their goals and meeting or exceeding Army standards.
I am respectful, credible and consistent.
I must understand and accommodate soldiers individual characteristics in order to prepare each soldier for duty and combat.
I must make every soldier understand they are responsible for meeting all established standards in order to serve in the Army successfully.
I am a platoon sergeant.
Kiersten Richens, 6, keeps her dads drill sergeant hat in good keeping as the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade transitioned the drill sergeant designation to platoon sergeant on Friday. (Ed Honda-Herald/Review)
Sgt. 1st Class Rexana Ireland, center, and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Teribury don the cap of a platoon sergeant during the transitional ceremony for the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade on Fort Huachuca. (Ed Honda-Herald/Review)
Unless they are Green berets or Airborne red berets or Ranger (formerly) black berets, I hate the berets period. They look too European. I say bring back the old cover.
Then why do it, Sgt. Stober? Why do it with such a big splash if "nothing will change?" I fail to see the intelligence in that. Whoops, my bad ... that's military intelligence, found in the dictionary under "oxymoron." Nevermind.
So do I and everyone else.
Clintons Gen Shinseki mandated them and the troops agree with you, but then the Pointy Headed Pampered Purple Political Princes at the Pentagon never listen to the troops.
No truer words were ever spoken. To heck what the troops think, so and so's mother in law has a business that can make berets, so we will make all the troops wear them. Remember the first batch was "Made in China".
A beret is worthless. Maybe if it had a visor? Plus the DI hats are way cool.
I hate the berets. I really hate them. I wonder what is really behind this.
How sad, and stupid.
Thirty years ago, come May, I ETS’d from the Army. To this day, I still can’t help but turning my head to look at a Drill Sergeant. I never met one I couldn’t respect.
I guess I won’t see anymore overweight ragbag NCOs with Fred Flinstone sized-ACU tops, dangling bootlaces, open pockets and Smokey Bear hats at the Sierra Vista Barn, er, Mall.
I don’t know about the rest of you 05, 96, 97 and 98 series types but I only met three drill instructors who deserved the hat.
Why do it? That is a very good question. The job didn’t change at all, the official answer was that it was to change the soldiers perception.. The powers that be said that once basic training was complete “The soldierization process is complete” and that the soldiers need an environment more like their gaining units(ie: Squad leader - Platoon Sergeant - etc...) Anyone in the AIT training process will agree that most soldiers arriving at AIT still have a lot to learn about being a soldier and the Soldierization process is still a big part of their training.
Most of the Drill Sergeants/Platoon Sergeants believe it is all about the money. Drill sergeants get a special duty pay of $375.00/mo. And considering that they put in 80-100hrs a week and deal with added stress, I personally believe that is nowhere near enough. Savings: about .5 million a year on drill pay(just Ft Huachuca), and another $300 per soldier for uniforms.
All the platoon sergeants arriving since the de-hat receive no special pay, work the same number of hours, deal with the same stress and don’t receive a clothing supplement or assignment of choice afterwords. The only thing they are getting is rated time in a platoon sergeant slot (though there has been talk about giving them the xray identifier). Seems to me the platoon sergeants are getting the short end of the stick.