By Timothy Friederichs, 108th Training CommandSeptember 19, 2018
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As the U.S. Army prepares to make changes to its combat training model to become a more lethal force in preparation for the changing world landscape, the 108th Training Command, the Army Reserve's only drill sergeant training command, recognizes that it must increase its end strength to meet the increasing readiness demands of the U.S. Total Force. The 108th Training Command is engaged in various adaptive measures that will increase the readiness and lethality of the force.
Tentatively starting in October 2019, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command will increase the length of its Infantry One-Station Unit Training from 14 to 22 weeks, and the following year, the Cavalry OSUT training will expand from 17 to 22 weeks. Similar changes will occur with the engineer and military police OSUT training thereafter. Those training length increases, coupled with current OSUT shortfalls, will require an additional 378 drill sergeants.
The 108th Training Command, based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, will be called upon to help augment this increased end strength demand. One of its three division commanders, Brig. Gen. Ronald Bassford, commander, 95th Division, U.S. Army Reserve, will discuss "Drill Sergeant Engagement and Adaptive Measures to Meet Mission Requirements" at a Warriors Corner on Monday, Oct. 8 from 3:55 -- 4:35 p.m., as part of the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
The Command's current strength requirement already calls for nearly 2,700 drill sergeants, and given normal attrition and promotions out, that in itself is a challenging bar to reach. In addition to OSUT drill sergeant augmentation support, it has requirement demands from other existing obligations to TRADOC, which include:
-Starting Augmenting Basic Combat Training for the Active Component
-Drill sergeant leader support at the Drill Sergeant Academy
-ROTC Cadet Summer Training support
-Approximately another 90 drill sergeants to support the Headquarters, Department of the Army End Strength Increase training mission at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
-Drill sergeant support training for Sailors headed to Afghanistan as part of the Navy Individual Augmentee Combat Training, also known as Task Force Marshall, and
-Basic Training reception.
The 108th Training Command also supports non-TRADOC missions, including support to the U.S. Military Academy, to the Ministry of Interior-Military Assistance Group in Saudi Arabia, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and other U.S. Army Reserve / National Guard support.
The Command is therefore using creative measures to meet the Army's needs. The 108th Training Command is working closely with the Reserve Component Career Counselors, or RCCC, at Reserve Transition Offices on nearly every Active Component Army base in order to increase its Soldiers transitioning from Active Component to the Army Reserve. Maj. Gen. Mark McQueen, commanding general of the 108th Training Command, decided that the best way to work with the RCCC was by bringing six currently serving drill sergeants on orders and blitz these transition offices to develop new or enhance existing relationships with the career counselors at these locations.
These efforts have paid off, as nearly 71 percent of the 108th Training Command's entire approved Active Component to Reserve Component accessions have come in the second half of fiscal year 2018. Three of these six drill sergeants will continue to serve through the first half of fiscal year 2019. The Command has also seen accession gains in leads from the Army Reserve Career Division, currently serving U.S. Army Reserve Troop Program Unit as well as inactive Reserve Soldiers transitioning back to the U.S. Army Reserve.
Another exciting development is partnerships formed with the National Guard. Given that the National Guard possesses large numbers of Soldiers with combat arms military occupational specialties, but who lack the opportunity in the National Guard to serve in a career-broadening assignment as a drill sergeant, this makes for a great partnership. The National Guard Soldiers serve their two- to three-year commitment, and then they will be able to transition back to the National Guard with these additional leader skill sets. The 108th has secured a Memorandum of Understanding with the Puerto Rico National Guard, and other MOUs are currently being negotiated with other states.
McQueen said that "partnering with our [National Guard] brethren to come over for two to three years (two if the Soldier already possesses the drill sergeant badge) is a win-win; a broadening assignment for the National Guard Soldier when they go back to their National Guard units, and we benefit from the increase in qualified drill sergeants. We are not looking to homestead these men and women."
Finally, the 108th Training Command is diligently working to support gender integration of drill sergeant leadership positions. As part of the U.S. Army's Implementation Plan 2016-01 (Army Gender Integration), the Army opened up all remaining occupations and units to women to enhance Army readiness. The U.S. Army's Gender Integration Implementation Plan is the department's detailed approach for integrating women into all military occupational specialties. This paves the way for qualified female Soldiers to serve in the Infantry, Armor, and Special Forces. The "leader first" approach will be followed by assignment of female enlisted Soldiers to operational units with gender integrated leadership. The 108th Training Command is emphasizing the importance of female drill sergeants as leaders in BCT units as well as OSUT companies, as part of complete gender integration in the Armed Forces. The Command currently has two female drill sergeants with the 11B (Infantry) MOS.
The 108th Training Command proposes to support increasing the readiness and lethality of the force through increasing the end strength of its drill sergeant population. It will achieve these goals through various adaptive measures, including: opportunities to provide support to the length of OSUT; working closely with RCCC to gain Active Component Soldiers transitioning to Reserve Component; forming partnerships with the National Guard; and supporting the Army Gender Integration Implementation Plan.