¶ … man's realization of his dream of becoming a United States Army Drill Sergeant. The introductory part provides an initial glimpse of how drill sergeants are commonly seen by ordinary people and the stereotype Hollywood movies have made on this important members of the United States Army. Thereafter, the paper takes the reader to how the person became a drill sergeant and the kind of course taken to earn the title as well as have the privilege of wearing the drill sergeant hat and badge. The paper then progresses into the initial assignment after completing the drill sergeant course and concludes with the more responsible posting as a Senior Drill Sergeant in one of the United States Army's training schools.
Most people have seen and are familiar with the United States Army recruiting slogan "Be All You Can Be." For over two decades (from 1980 to 2001), these words rang true not only for those aspiring to be part of the most professional army in the world but also for those already part of the U.S. Army. The reason being is that the army indeed allows a person to be whatever he or she wants provided that person works hard at achieving the goals set to in the military service. Thus, for some people, the dream, hope, aspiration or what he wants to be in the army is to basically be a soldier and serve this great country. Others aspire more and want to go through the ranks and gain positions of authority with the corresponding responsibilities and accountabilities. These positions or career paths in the U.S. Army can be in the form of becoming commissioned and non-commissioned officers (NCOs). Reaching these rank levels serve as the epitome of their careers and a fulfillment of their personal goals of seeing the fruition of their "Be All You Can Be" in the Army. For my part, I have my own Be All You Can Be story while serving in the military. But my story is like any other soldier's story who aspired to reach the pinnacle of military success through sheer hard work, determination, perseverance, fortitude and of course a lot of hopes and prayers to achieved my goals. What I have achieved is without a doubt a personal testimony to the truism of the Army slogan Be All You Can Be -- with a bit of a caveat, that is if you work hard for it!
The Road to Becoming a U.S. Army Drill Sergeant
When I joined the United States Army in June 1992, I knew then that it was a conscious and clear decision that the moment I took my oath as a soldier, it would be my lifelong career and I would endeavor my very best to serve my beloved country. But I had also other aspirations in joining and that was to become a United States Army Drill Sergeant. I don't know but I guess this dream of becoming a Drill Sergeant had its roots when I was younger and I was seeing all those Hollywood-made movies showing fresh and raw recruits being put through the rigors of boot camp by tough and expert drill instructors "screaming, and having an in-your-face (Associated Press, 2006)" attitude. I was fascinated with this kind of military personnel because they have the authority and skills to hone civilians and after several weeks of basic training, mold them into capable soldiers that will fight and defend the nation.
All the Hollywood hype though did not portray what it really means to be a Drill Sergeant. The tough guy facade seen in the movies is but a stereotype and if one will really delve into what it takes to become a Drill Sergeant, there will be an understanding of the criticality of this role in ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of each and every soldier coming out of basic training. In order to understand though what it means and how one becomes a United States Army Drill Sergeant, it is important first to know and look at the history of how this exalted and sought after position came into being in the United States Army. "In late 1962, the Secretary of the Army directed the Assistant Secretary to conduct a survey of recruit training in the Army. This survey was conducted over a long period of time and included...
The survey demonstrated that the Army training center NCOs were regarded poorly. (U.S. Army Drill Sergeant, 2011)"
The long and short of it is that there was a requirement for a group of highly trained cadre of instructors that will raise the standards of basic or recruit training in the army. Based on the report of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, plans and programs were developed to train qualified army personnel to become drill instructors for recruits coming in the service. "Between April and June of 1963, pilot courses were conducted at Fort Jackson, S.C., for selected officers and NCOs to participate in testing the revised concept of recruit training. The success of these tests resulted in the adoption of the new concept to include the formation of Drill Sergeant Schools. (U.S. Army Drill Sergeant, 2011)" Thereafter it can be said that the rest was history and the solid tradition of becoming a Drill Sergeant came into being during these tumultuous times. From then on, the United States Army has graduated several Drill Sergeants that have joined the ranks of those who ensure the continuity and resilience of the American military by providing top-notch and high standard training to the present and future soldiers of this nation.
Definitely, becoming a Drill Sergeant in the United States is an honor and holds with it the privilege of molding men and women in becoming viable and vital members of the country's military system. Thus, way back in 1992 when I first joined the army, I had my sights set on becoming a Drill Sergeant and this dream became a reality in 2003 when I was selected amongst several other hopefuls to attend the United States Army Drill Sergeant School (USADSS) in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I took early in the year 2003 "the Drill Sergeant School Course (DSSC), a functional course providing qualified Noncommissioned Officers with specialized training resulting in the awarding of the 'X' and '8' skill qualification identifier. The DSSC is designed to build on the leadership abilities and technical knowledge acquired by the candidate and provides him/her the unique knowledge and skills required to train IET (Initial Entry Training) Soldiers. (U.S. Army, 2011)" I was fortunate enough (actually it was a combination of luck and hard work) to pass the DSSC in March 2003 and was bestowed the privilege of wearing what is known as the Smokey Bear hat and the Drill Sergeant identification badge.
After graduating from DSSC, I remained posted in Fort Jackson for two and a half years since my assignment entailed training privates in Basic Combat Training. It was truly a fulfilling two and a half years of my life and my army career because I had the opportunity of seeing young men and women turn to soldiers dedicated to the maintenance of freedom and democracy of the United States. There were challenges of course but surpassing them meant making me a better Drill Sergeant and a better person as well. Although I thought people how to be soldiers and the skills necessary to fight and defend in a military sense, I myself went through a learning experience whereby I was able to understand human nature better as a result of having to deal with different personalities and recruits hailing from various social, cultural, economic, and racial backgrounds. Thus, I realized that I was not only a drill instructor but I was also "responsible for coaching, counseling, and mentoring hundreds -- if not thousands -- of Soldiers as I transform them from a civilian to a combat-ready Soldier (U.S. Army Drill Sergeant, 2011)." Definitely, the rewards I garnered on the professional and personal level after becoming a Drill Sergeant surpassed even my wildest dreams and I have always been thankful for having been given the opportunity to serve in such capacity.
Gaining Senior Drill Sergeant Status
Training recruits or privates is easy since they are like a blank slate or tabula rasa that I can write on and instill in them what is required to become United States soldiers. But as part of the army drill sergeant career progression, I cannot remain in my post as a recruit trainer; thus I had to move on to bigger and better responsibilities. In December 2005, I moved to my new posting as Senior Drill Sergeant in the USADSS. This is especially a challenging assignment because I was now tasked to train veteran and seasoned senior non-commissioned officers in becoming a U.S. Army Drill Sergeant like myself. The greatest challenge here is that I am entrusted with a group of…
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