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Warrior training incorporated into curriculum at Fort Jackson drill sergeant school

By Sgt. 1st Class Reginald P. Rogers/TRADOC News Service

FORT MONROE, Va. (TRADOC News Service, Oct. 15, 2004) – The Army’s emphasis on becoming a more rigorous, combat-ready fighting force requires a change in the way Soldiers receive training. At Fort Jackson, S.C., that change begins with the Army’s lead trainer: the drill sergeant.

The Fort Jackson Drill Sergeant School’s program of instruction has recently undergone major changes that now require the 40 warrior tasks and nine warrior drills be included in the curriculum used to train drill sergeants.

“We went to Fort Jackson and stayed there Sept. 21-24,” explained Army Drill Sergeant of the Year Staff Sgt. Jason W. Maynard. “The purpose of our trip was to go step-by-step, word-by-word through the drill sergeant school’s POI. We went through it to make room for the 40 warrior tasks and the nine battle drills so we can train the drill sergeants on it.”

According to Maynard, the DSS at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., has the lead on the warrior training. The school will host two pilots of the new training program: one begins this month and lasts through December. The other pilot will follow, starting in January and ending in March.

“After they work all the kinks out, we can expect to see the other schools begin the same training in March,” he explained. “Forts Jackson and Benning will begin teaching their drill sergeants the new tasks and drills after March.”

For the Army Reserves’ drill sergeant schools, the 100th Division will conduct the pilot at Fort Knox, Ky.

“They will start that in January and finish it in June,” explained Army Reserves DSOY Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer R. Fowler. “The rest of the schools will come on line in July. So we can expect all the Reserve drill sergeant schools to be operational with the new POI in July.”

Maynard said that despite the new curriculum being added to the course, the course load remains the same. He said this was achieved by planning some of the current tasks around the new training.

“They shifted things around, cut hours here, added hours there to make room for this new program,” he explained. “The total amount of field time has increased under the new POI.”

“They will now be conducting three field exercises,” Fowler added. “Just like basic training, they’ll be doing all the roadmarches. The Combat Leaders Course portion of drill sergeant school will be very intense.”

According to Maynard, Soldiers attending the Combat Leaders Course are the only troops receiving this type of training in an Army school. “Nobody has trained up on these tasks except Soldiers attending the Combat Leaders Course that’s currently going on,” he said.

“One of the unique things they will have to do is a ‘march and shoot,’” Fowler explained. “This is when they do a battle march – more or less a forced march. At the end of the march, they will be required to fire their weapons at a qualification range. It’s very intensive.”

She said a lot of the hours that were cut from the POI included practical-exercise time for drill and ceremony. She added that time used for methods of instruction will continue, with a slight increase.

“The methods of instruction is where they are up front teaching classes,” Fowler explained. “They’ll still get to do that. They’ll still be evaluated on it. Under the old POI, they were only required to be evaluated once. Now they will be evaluated once in garrison and again in the field environment.”

“The actual methods-of-instruction classes they receive will decrease,” she added. “But they’re still going to be out there leading more. They actually added hand-grenade training to allow (drill sergeants) to learn how to teach hand grenades. Instead of just doing the hand-grenade course, they will be able to teach it.”

Fowler said she thinks the biggest benefit for all Soldiers is the fact that drill sergeants will have gone through the training they will soon teach.

“When they get out there and they’re leading Soldiers through it, they’re going to know it better,” she said. “They’re going to be the subject-matter experts. Not all the (military-occupation specialties) do it all the time, but it’s a big asset for drill sergeants to get out there and do the training to better enable them to lead Soldiers through it.”

Fowler explained the training is of the utmost importance for Soldiers now, especially since we’re an Army at war. “As for the Soldiers, they’ll graduate basic training and, for some of them, within 30 days of graduating (advanced individual training), they’re in the box,” she pointed out.

“There are going to be huge benefits,” Maynard said. “Right now, no one on the ground is trained to task, conditions and standards. Every installation has its version of it, but not everyone is on the same sheet of music. We have the Combat Leaders Course. Now we’re taking the CLC’s entire POI and putting it directly into the drill sergeant school so everyone will be on the same sheet of music.”

“So now, people at Fort Leonard Wood will be doing the same thing as people at Fort Sill,” he added. “That’s what they’re working on in this office right now, getting all the training-support packets on the Web. They’re getting them all on-line this week so everyone is on the same page.”

Maynard said he thinks the changes within the DSS POI will produce better drill sergeants, who will, in turn, produce better Soldiers. Both DSOYs agree that it’s easier for drill sergeants to learn the new tasks sooner than later.

“It’s hard once you get past drill sergeant school and you’re out there as a drill sergeant, and they throw new changes down,” Fowler said. “Finding the time to be able to become very familiar with those changes (is difficult). So getting the lessons at drill sergeant school will definitely make (drill sergeants in training) subject-matter experts before they get to their units.”