For one First Army unit supply specialist, drill sergeant school represented a chance to become reacquainted with some military principles. Now, he will be the one teaching those principles as he heads to perform drill sergeant duties at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Va.
Staff Sgt. Jared Jackson attended drill sergeant school at Fort Jackson, S.C., from Aug. 12 to Sept. 19. He and his 59 graduating classmates put in long but productive days.
“You’re up by 0400 for PT and during the training day, there are classes on topics such as administering the Army Combat Fitness Test, drill and ceremony, and rifle marksmanship,” he said. “The day usually ended about 1800 or 1900.”
It was all done while adhering to COVID protocols.
“You had to wear facemasks at all times, we self-quarantined for two weeks before starting school, and we practiced social distancing in classes. There was also constant sanitization,” Jackson said.
The pandemic also necessitated that the school’s duration be shortened, which made the course even more intense.
“They condensed everything from nine weeks to six weeks, so it was just block of instruction after block of instruction after block of instruction. You just asked as many questions as you could,” Jackson explained. “You’re expected to be proficient and not only know it but be able to teach all the tasks. The drill sergeant would show us what it was supposed to be like per the Army regulation. Once they presented the module, we were expected to know it and be able to teach it.”
Then there were the physical demands.
“It was very challenging,” he said. “You had to run everywhere and had PT every morning, of course.”
It was a lot to process but adopting the right mindset helped him to succeed.
“Going back into that TRADOC setting, it wasn’t basic training all over again, but it was something similar, from the intensity, to the high optempo to the training events, and also being able to teach those.”
He found tactics to be the most challenging aspect of the school.
“I haven’t done tactics in about five years,” Jackson said. “Getting that back into me and performing it was a challenge so I had to start all over – the battle drills, the squad formations, and things of that nature. The intensity was very high, especially the first 72 hours where you’re relearning everything and there are the early wakeups and the constant screaming when you do something wrong. If you don’t do it right, you do it again and repeat, repeat, repeat. But it turned into great teaching moments.”
Indeed, while the instructors were quick-tempered, Jackson realized they were there to make him better and he admired them for that, with one standing out in in particular.
“I was trained by the best NCO I’ve ever seen,” he said. “She was amazing, with her professionalism, her leadership, and the way she interacted with us to teach, coach, and mentor. I took a lot from that and know what right looks like.”
He know looks to be the one setting that example.