During an U.S. Army town hall meeting on March 30, Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, the command sergeant major of the Center for Initial Military Training, presented the audience with an embarrassing statistic: Of the handful of soldiers recently tested on the use of the M40-series protective mask, only less than half knew how to wear it properly. This isn’t rocket science: It’s one of the most fundamental tasks soldiers are expected to perform upon graduating basic training.
Earlier this year, the Army announced plans for a new badge to test soldiers from military occupational specialities who don’t have a formal way to certify their skills. Under the plan, everyone — not just grunts, medics or non-infantry soldiers who see combat — can get a badge.
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.