JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas — Next time you see Army Soldiers marching on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston you may notice something different; Drill Sergeants, complete with campaign hats and badges.
Eight U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, platoon sergeants recently graduated from the two week Drill Sergeant Conversion Course at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training and U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy.
The Army approved the change of AIT platoon sergeants to drill sergeants, which will began implementation with the graduation of the first conversion course March 9. The visual symbols of discipline — the drill sergeant campaign hat and badge — further extends their sphere of influence. Drill sergeants in AIT will further the goal of a seamless transition to the operational Army with disciplined, fit and combat-ready Soldiers ready for their first unit of assignment.
In 2007, the Army removed drill sergeants from the AIT environment. AIT platoon sergeants replaced drill sergeants as mentors for new Soldiers, with the goal for the AIT platoon sergeants to prepare new Soldiers for their first unit of assignment and to acclimate them to leadership in an operational Army environment.
Based on feedback from operational units, the Army has made the decision to put drill sergeants back in AIT. The first thing a new Soldier sees when they get off the bus for day one in the Army is a drill sergeant. The continuity of having drill sergeants in AIT will better serve in the Soldiers’ growth as they prepare for their first unit of assignment.
For the AMEDDC&S drill sergeants who graduated from the course, the conversion is more than a hat and a badge.
“It’s a badge of honor,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brent L. Andersen Jr., AMEDDC&S AIT Platoon Sergeant/Drill Sergeant Manager. “The drill sergeant hat and badge are instantly recognizable.”
“It’s a reminder to any Soldiers that see the drill sergeant hat Soldiers to sit a little straighter, it’s a flash back to basic training,” said Sgt. Maj. Grant S. Dupoux III, U.S. Army Reserve, Senior Enlisted Advisor.
“In the entire Army community when you see that drill sergeant hat everyone knows exactly what that means” said Command Sgt. Maj. Buck O’Neal, AMEDDC&S Command Sergeant Major. “I don’t expect a difference between platoon sergeants and drill sergeants. It’s still the same individual under that hat, the performance and expectations will still be the same when they return from the course. However, when AIT Soldiers see that drill sergeant hat they know there’s a certain level of expectation. Every single person in the Army has meet a drill sergeant. Every single Soldier understands what being a drill sergeant is about. They know they are the standard bearer. Without a doubt this will positive affect everyone on the campus.”
Currently serving AIT platoon sergeants who have graduated from the AIT Platoon Sergeant Course on or after Jan. 21, 2017, are required to become drill sergeants. Serving AIT platoon sergeants who have between 13 to 18 months of time can volunteer to extend for an additional year as a drill sergeant. Army wide approximately 600 AIT platoon sergeants will become drill sergeants, based on eligibility. At AMEDDC&S, 60 platoon sergeants will convert to drill sergeants approximately over the next year.
For more information on Army drill sergeants, visit the Army.mil Features website athttps://www.army.mil/drillsergeant/
Pictured above: Sgt. 1st Class Magalie Atilus, Delta Company, 232d Medical Battalion, marches with Advanced Individual Training Soldiers at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Atilus recently graduated from the Drill Sergeant Conversion Course at Fort Jackson, SC. (Photo by Jose E. Rodriguez)