Despite what appeared to be an official announcement published on the official news site of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, a spokesman for the command tells Task & Purpose that plans to return drill sergeants to Advanced Individual Training are, in fact, not final.
Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton
It’s been 10 years since I was a young private undergoing advanced individual training, or AIT, to become a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. But I feel pretty confident in saying that the Army’s plan to install drill sergeants at AIT is bad, and that the idea it’s premised on is even worse: the fashionable notion that lazy, entitled millennials need an extra butt-whipping to be good soldiers.
When I went through basic and advanced individual training, or AIT, at Fort Benning in 2005, there was a subtle yet profound shift between the two phases of my training. It didn’t have to do with location — we were still occupying the same newly constructed minimalist barracks — and it didn’t have to do with rank, uniform, or pay. Simply put, our drill sergeant began referring to us as his “soldiers.” And I distinctly remember the very first moment that he did it. We were standing in formation outside of the dining facility and some other drill sergeant tried to lead his platoon in before us. “Hell no!” our drill sergeant bellowed, “My soldiers were here first.”