Army drill sergeants were phased out of Advanced Individual Training a decade ago, but now, after years of deliberation, the official call has been made: They will be phased back in as soon as October 2019, according to a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command news blog post.
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.”