Drill Sergeants are coming back to Army AIT after ten years, soldiers need more discipline

(Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office)

A decade after taking drill sergeants out of Advanced Individual Training and replacing them with AIT platoon sergeants, the Army is planning on bringing the drill sergeants back.

Though the idea has been floated in the past, during TRADOC’s fourth State of NCO Professional Development Town Hall, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Virginia, said the plans are now moving forward.

On Nov. 17, the Army officially decided to bring drill sergeants back to AIT, after a sign-off by Ray Horoho, the acting assistant Army secretary for manpower and reserve affairs.

“Currently, USACIMT is working with Department of the Army-level staff and other stakeholders to get all the required administrative pieces in place before implementation can begin,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pray, a spokesman for the Center for Initial Military Training, told Army Times. “However, we do expect drill sergeants to start transitioning to AIT in 2018.”

“The goal is to get [drill sergeants] back,” Gragg said back in May. “We know the force would like them there. We know there is a deficiency in Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills. We know there is a decrease in the level of discipline.”

One Station Unit Training – combined basic training and AIT – is offered for military occupational specialties such as infantry and military police and was not affected because it had drill sergeants the entire time.

“In basic training, the drill sergeant is the authority figure,” TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Davenport said in October. “And when we brought AIT platoon sergeants in to replace drill sergeants, it was really about them beginning the transition to the role of the noncommissioned officer.”

It turned out that this transition was too early and soldiers could use the continuity of drill sergeants from the beginning of their initial training until the end.

“For my AIT platoon sergeant brethren out there who would think this is a slap on them, it is not,” Gragg said. “Because those same individuals who are AIT platoon sergeants will be the same exact individuals who will be the drill sergeants. What we’re trying to do is give them more tools to be successful.”

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