Drill sergeant exchange could lead to changes in how sister services train troops
March 23, 2011
- Army drill sergeant, Air Force training instructor reverse roles
- Pair will review procedures, best practices and brief on lessons learned
FORT BENNING, Ga. - A drill sergeant exchange between Army and Air Force cadre may yield insight into possible training improvements for both services.
Fort Benning's 192nd Infantry Brigade and Lackland Air Force Base's 37th Training Wing are participating in an exchange between an Army drill sergeant and an Air Force training instructor considered experts in their field.
Staff Sgt. David Peters, of the 192nd's A Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, is currently in San Antonio, Texas, the site of the Air Force's sole initial entry training center. He's embedded with 322nd Training Squadron. Filling his drill sergeant role in A Company is Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Hite, a combat veteran who's participated in two joint service deployments.
The exchange is the first of its kind among the Army's 18 initial military training brigades.
"We all have the same mission - training Soldiers and Airmen who are going to operational units. It's the strategic air mission for them and the ground war for us. The end result is to (prepare) them both for an environment where they are at war," said Col. Terrence McKenrick, commander of the 192nd Infantry Brigade.
Peters and Hite switched places for one training cycle and are evaluating training to brief their respective organizations on the similarities, differences and areas for improvement.
The pair are immersed in the training environment and service culture in order to identify initiatives, best practices, lessons learned and the tactics, techniques and procedures of the training centers. A deliberate review will be conducted of Army and Air Force basic combat training programs of instruction to determine training improvements. From this exchange, the sister services hope to foster a mutually supportive relationship between the air wing and the Infantry brigade, McKenrick said.
The exchange was initiated by Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, then deputy commanding general of initial entry training for the Training and Doctrine Command, after visiting Lackland and speaking with the training wing's commander, Col. Bif Mott, who oversees training of all Air Force recruits.
McKenrick said the wing commander is specifically interested in the Army's comprehensive basic and advanced rifle marksmanship.
The Air Force currently devotes only one day to rifle marksmanship training, while the Army spends more than two weeks of its nine-week basic training on marksmanship skills.
"I think he saw the way we're training Soldiers to shoot is making them more effective," said McKenrick of Mott's visit last year. "He's most interested in our focus on the combat fire - shooting weapons under stressful conditions. We have Soldiers moving through lanes, (weaving) around obstacles, determining how best to shoot and which targets to engage first. Some targets come up simultaneously, others require more than one hit to kill ... much like the enemy. It's a more adaptive, thinking range than just a normal weapons qualification."
Hite said he appreciates the hands-on approach of Army drill sergeants.
We have a separate squadron of academic instructors to teach the trainees, as far as classroom instruction goes. We help out with the application of certain classes," he said.
The training role in the Air Force is divided between the military training instructors -who march the airmen to classes, conduct barracks inspections, complete administrative tasks and instill discipline - and the academic instructors - who train the Airmen on a majority of their tasks, techniques and skills.
Hite said one of his main goals while embedded with an Army basic training unit was to ensure the trainees would "not see any difference between me and other drill sergeants."
To prepare, Hite went through the brigade's cadre certification program. The two-week course is required of all cadre to familiarize them with local operating procedures.
He was also introduced to Army Regulation 350-6, said A Company commander Capt. Terrance Green, which regulates interactions with trainees.
"He's professional, hard-charging and willing to learn," Green said of his newest drill sergeant.
Green said he feels Hite's previous joint-service deployments helped him adjust quickly to Army training and serve as an inspiration for future exchange efforts with the Army's sister services.
"It's not 'us versus them.' It's a collective effort between all branches of service. We are all in the same boat together - serving our country, our president, our people."
The exchange is expected to wrap up the third week of April. McKenrick said an additional exchange between brigade-level counterparts may happen in early April in order to assess how the respective units develop leaders. The Air Force is seeking to revamp its program of instruction for training cadre and is looking for input from Army leaders.