FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 28, 2018) - As part of changing one-station unit training (OSUT) for Infantry Soldiers from 14 to 22 weeks, trainees received instruction on the M240-series medium machine gun Sept. 21, at Malone Range Complex at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 198th Infantry Brigade, which has the mission "to transform civilians into disciplined INFANTRYMEN," is one of the first two units to train Soldiers on the 22-week Infantry OSUT.
OSUT combines basic combat training with advanced individual training, and the Soldiers who take part stay with the same class throughout. Changes to OSUT are meant to increase Soldier readiness, making them more lethal and proficient before they are assigned to their first duty stations as Infantry Soldiers.
The 14-week OSUT program, which has been used for the past 44 years, spends 10 of its 14 weeks on basic military training. The remaining four weeks were then to train the Soldiers on the skills specific to their Infantry military occupational specialty.
"We're getting them qualified on every weapon that's in a light infantry platoon, and that's going to allow their future leadership to - with minimal additional training - basically assimilate them into whatever position they need to in the platoon," said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Davis, a drill sergeant for E Co.
In addition to the instruction on the M240, the Soldiers will also get more time on their M4 rifles and the M249 squad automatic weapon. They will have time to shoot at night rather than just having a daytime weapons familiarization.
Further changes include six days of vehicle platform training, individual day and night land navigation courses, the 40-hour combat lifesaver certification course, combat water survival training and more.
To accommodate the transformation, the Infantry School looks to add more drill sergeants. Whereas the 14-week program required three drill sergeants to teach a platoon of 60 Soldiers, the Infantry School is looking to place six additional Infantry instructors to improve the student-to-instructor ratio.
As the pilot program tests additions to programs and further changes, the company will evaluate the pilot program's effectiveness and how the program might be improved upon.
"Those things we need to correct are things we can absolutely pass forward to the future battalions and companies that are going to be taking up these 22-week cycles when we get into full swing next year," said Davis. "It's a lot more work from our end of the table."
Davis went on to say that the additional work from the drill sergeants only means turning civilians into better Infantry Soldiers.
"Any time we have the opportunity to take more training, I don't see why you wouldn't want to be a part of it," said Spc. John Strezo, one of the first Soldiers to take part in the transformed OSUT. "This is a very serious job that we have, and the more prepared you are, the better you can be."
Soldiers in the Infantry career field make up more than one seventh of the total force, but the transformation of Infantry OSUT may not be the end. The U.S. Army Armor School and U.S. Army Engineer School are analyzing their curricula to change their own OSUT programs to advance Soldiers within their own occupational specialties.
To learn more about the OSUT transformation, visit the "Related Links" section on this page.