Drill Sergeant School commandant set to leave after historic tenure, new commandant to also make his
September 16, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- When Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Newsome entered the Army in 1980, he did not realize that he would end up making history.
When the North Carolina native hands over the reins of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School Tuesday, Newsome will not only retire from uniform, he will end his term as the first commandant of the only school in the Army designated to train noncommissioned officers to train new Soldiers.
"Consolidating three schools into the one that we have now was one of my biggest challenges, and also one of my biggest accomplishments as commandant," Newsome said. "We went from having about 80 students to having up to 400 students at one time."
When Newsome came to Fort Jackson three years ago, the school was one of three in the Army. Since then, the drill sergeant schools at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., were closed and merged with the school here to create one consolidated school.
"The challenge was finding a facility here on Fort Jackson that would accommodate closing those schools and continuing with the extended load here at Fort Jackson, to never stop any classes from occurring," Newsome said. "We not only had to close those other two schools, but I had to find a facility here on Fort Jackson that would accommodate an extended student load."
Also under his tenure, Newsome has overseen changing how and what drill sergeants are taught, especially when it came to marksmanship. Introduced in January, the Combat Assault Rifle Training Course increased marksmanship training from four days to 11 days. CARTC is a three-phase program designed to take the emphasis off of weapons qualifications and teach Soldiers how to react in a combat situation.
"We were trying to come up with a program that would not only show noncommissioned officers how marksmanship is instituted in BCT, but we wanted to educate the NCOs, the subject matter experts, so they could go down and teach Soldiers marksmanship," Newsome said.
Having been a drill sergeant himself, Newsome knows first-hand the struggles and stresses his students face. He admits it takes a lot of motivation to perform one of the hardest jobs in the Army.
"To be a successful drill sergeant you have to have a desire to do this. This is a special job," he said. "We have a lot of NCOs here coming out of combat. This is not their preferred unit of assignment. Not only do we have to train and prepare them to be drill sergeants, we have to inspire them to do this. It is a challenge for them.
"Some of them are trying to reintegrate themselves back into the home living, but still find themselves away from home many hours of the day. It's kind of a unique NCO we have coming to the Drill Sergeant School."
Newsome will be replaced by Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King, who will be making a little history of her own as the first female commandant of the school.
As for advice to his replacement, Newsome said for King to, "Just have fun. This will probably be one of the most rewarding jobs she'll ever have."
The change of responsibility ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m., Tuesday, in front of post headquarters.