By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Jackson)April 15, 2019
Drill sergeants should soon have less administrative work on their hands, with 216 lieutenants to take on some of their duties as Basic Combat Training platoon leaders.
"Essentially you're going to balance out what has not been in balance here," said Brig. Gen. Milford H. "Beags" Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson commander to the first batch of junior officers April 2.
Right now, drill sergeants on-post have extra administrative work, day-to-day training management and logistical tasks that these lieutenants will assume to "take some of that burden off," Beagle added.
These tasks "take a lot of time for drill sergeants to do," said Michael Ryan, Fort Jackson's long-range planner.
"The intent is to free up the drill sergeants" so they can train their Soldiers better, because "that's the most important thing," Ryan said.
The platoon leaders will each lead, train, and assist with maintaining and enhancing the morale, welfare and readiness of four drill sergeants and 60 trainees. They will be the officers and highest-ranking members of their platoons.
"You're transforming civilians into Soldiers," Beagle said. "Lead by example."
Soldiers learn by watching, he said, and they will model lieutenants' behavior.
Beagle advised the classmates to avoid feelings of cynicism, pessimism and skepticism and keep upbeat to make sure they are putting the right attitude on display.
Lieutenants will be shipping in from across the country and overseas to take on these positions.
"It's a mixture of leaders coming," said Capt. Jose Elizabeth, project manager for the course.
Many will be switching from operational, branch-specific technical jobs to this new training-related assignment.
"(The change) is pretty significant," and it will practically take place overnight, Ryan said.
Beagle called it "groundbreaking … but not new," commenting that the model has precedence in the Army.
he class kicking off lieutenant integration, the BCT Platoon Leader Integration Course, will be held monthly. It is a two-day session that will serve as a "macro overview" of the new assignment, Ryan explained.
Subjects like Soldier fueling, risk management and injury prevention are covered by the curriculum.
The monthly seminar will be immediately followed by the post newcomer's brief since many of these soon-to-be leaders have never been stationed at Fort Jackson, Ryan added.
After the brief, lieutenants will take on battalion and company-level training as they tackle their new roles on-post.
The initiative is also aimed at being able to "gather more supervision within the platoons," Elizabeth said.
"More eyes on the ground" will hopefully keep Soldiers on their best behavior, potentially improving how the installation runs as a whole, Elizabeth said.
"It's not about likership; it's about leadership," Beagle said, commenting that it is the lieutenants' job to stem any inappropriate behaviors they witness.