By Brandon OConnorAugust 1, 2019
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- With the first three weeks of training completed, the leadership for Cadet Basic Training at the U.S. Military Academy underwent a change July 21 during New Cadet Visitation Day.
Class of 2020 Cadet Dion Perinon is now in charge and as the regimental commander for CBT II he is tasked with leading the new cadets through the second half of training. A self-described "jack-of-all-trades," Perinon decided to attend West Point and pursue an Army career with the goal of becoming as well-rounded a person as possible especially after seeing the impact it had on his father, who is currently a Chief Warrant Officer 4.
"My dad was an island man," he said. "He had dreadlocks. He raised chickens for a living. One day, he just cut off his dreadlocks and decided he could be better and have a better life. He's one of the best people I know to this day."
The period of CBT Perinon and his staff will be leading is considerably more concentrated on field training than the first half of CBT. It includes the march out, the culminating field training exercise and March Back, which marks the end of CBT.
"These next three weeks are highly intensive in terms of field time and getting out there and doing the actual training," Perinon said. "These three weeks that they just did with instilling that discipline is vital. When we hand them a rifle and tell them to go down this lane and shoot just this target with their buddies on their left and the right, we can actually trust that they have the discipline to be safe while doing so."
Perinon was chosen to lead CBT II as part of the selection process that will determine the cadet leadership for the academic year, including First Captain. Leading summer training serves as an extensive interview for the rising Firsties (seniors) chosen to lead the various parts of Cadet Summer Training as they are given the most extensive leadership opportunity of their cadet careers to that point.
"I really just decided to go after it (a leadership position) because West Point provides you the opportunity to practice higher leadership in a fail-safe environment," Perinon said. "The worst that happens when we fail is our peers will be mad at us or we'll get a bad grade. It's a great opportunity to work out those kinks before we actually go out there and it really counts."
Along with teaching basic military skills to the new cadets, Perinon and his staff will be tasked with preparing the Class of 2023 for the academic year. Following March Back, the new cadets will go through reorganization week before officially joining the Corps of Cadets during the Acceptance Day parade Aug. 17.
The goal during their time in charge, Perinon said, is to instill a sense of team in the members of the Class of 2023 and help them make the transition from individuals working for themselves to a class working to help each other.
"The vision of our detail is to instill a tough team-oriented mindset into these individuals, so they can place the success of the team before themselves because no one's best on their own," he said. "We all need a little bit of help from each and every one of us."
Perinon said in order to be successful during his time in charge it will take a full team effort between himself and his regimental staff who are in turn in charge of the 300 or so cadets who make up the cadre for CBT II.
"The great thing about the Army is that no matter what level you are, you're really only in charge of about four or five people at max," Perinon said. "I have a whole bunch of great company commanders that I'm going to be leading to lead those Soldiers, and I have a great staff, but I'm really just leveraging those key personnel."