Army AIT NCOs may become Drill Sergeants because new recruits require more discipline

Drill Sergeant Sgt. Dan Kernan, 2/397th Bravo Company, Field Artillery Surveyor, keeps track of best warrior competitors during the 2015 U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 5.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Felix R. Fimbres/Released)

The United States Army thinks millennials may require extra supervision- and they are looking to their world-famous drill sergeants to provide it to them.

According to Army Times, the possible moving of drill sergeants into AIT schools would signal an end to the Army’s AIT platoon sergeant position, which perform many of the duties of Drill Sergeants without the added benefits.

“When you think about TRADOC soldiers, when we hand that soldier off to their first unit of assignment, there are three things we want them to be- fit, disciplined and well-trained,” said said CSM David Davenport, the senior enlisted soldier for Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

The US Army loses about 12% of its trainees- an attrition rate some feel is too low.

“As we think about the future and readiness, how do we make our soldiers more fit, more disciplined and better trained?” Davenport said. “Soldiers always remember their drill sergeants. They measure themselves against them.”

The Army implemented AIT platoon sergeants in 2007, an effort to transition basic training graduates into the less-micromanaged environment with NCOs that they would see in their first actual units. Meanwhile, One-Station Unit Training -or OSUT- requires drill sergeants to accompany recruits from start to finish of training.

“It was a matter of trying to get them to associate authority with a figure other than the hat,” said CSM Michael Gragg, senior enlisted soldier for the Center for Initial Military Training. “But what we didn’t realize and didn’t take into account is the drill sergeant in the AIT environment is still working on that soldier.”

The push suggests that the current generation of millennials require the harder leadership and supervision of the drill sergeant, rather than the more even-keeled approach of the platoon sergeant.

To Gragg’s own admission, the system was not very well thought out. Platoon sergeants of AIT units lack a lot of the “tools that they needed to be as successful as they could be.”

In addition, platoon sergeants do not get the $300 extra pay that drill sergeants receive.

“Our AIT platoon sergeants have done nothing wrong,” Davenport said. “But I hear them. They want badges, they want hats, they want SDAP. If they’re selected through the same process as drill sergeants, and they go to Drill Sergeant School, it seems to me we’re training them like drill sergeants as well, so why not just make them drill sergeants?”

Military training planners have already evaluated whether or not the transition will be financially and logistically feasible, with the Army well within the required numbers of drill sergeants to accomplish the tasks at hand.

The Army also recognizes that one size may not fit all and plans to retain platoon sergeants where a drill sergeant may not be a feasible fit.

Interestingly, while the the Army Times claims that millennials may lack the ability to operate unsupervised without harder training, it is easily forgotten that the millennial generation- with a rather undefined range from 1981 to 2000- often made up a large number of adults at the tip of the spear during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. Soldiers born in 1981 were around 20 years of age after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and were even 22 years of age during the initial push into Baghdad in 2003.

Given that the current generation born around the time of 9/11 are now getting close to being military-aged themselves and have known nothing other than a nation at constant war, perhaps it is time for a clearer definition of generational gaps.

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