FORT BENNING, Ga. – Army senior leaders are noticing a difference in the young enlisted Infantry Soldiers who are joining their formations. And they attribute that difference to the First 100 Yards.
Command Sgts. Maj. Todd Sims and T.J. Holland, the senior enlisted Soldier for Forces Command and 18th Airborne Corps, respectively, visited Sand Hill, the home of Infantry one-station unit training, Jan. 29 as A Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, picked up a new class and watched the First 100 Yards firsthand.
The First 100 Yards teaches new recruits to work together from the minute they get off the bus, said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Pate, first sergeant for A Company. The training objective is to assess how well trainees can work as a group and build cohesive teams as they start their journey to become Infantry Soldiers.
During the 90-minute event, the trainees demonstrate their ability to move as members of a platoon, responsible for equipment, negotiate obstacles and react to stressful situations.
“We’re seeing more discipline, more physical readiness as these Soldiers join our formations,” said Holland who graduated from OSUT here 25 years ago.
“I like that they don’t jump off the bus with all of their kit in their hands, stumbling on themselves, tripping on the gear. That’s just an injury waiting to happen,” he said. “If you think about all the (training) we do in the Army … it’s a block of instruction, then you do a hands on, partner-assisted kind of training experience and then go into full execution mode.
“We’re showing them right off the bus the right way, the way we want them to (work together), the right mentality to build the relationships between the drill sergeants and the future Soldiers,” Holland said.
During the First 100 Yards, drill sergeants talked about unit’s history and the master fitness trainer demonstrated exercises. The trainees learned about becoming part of the “Rock of the Chickamuaga” while experiencing the eight-count push-up.
“You are joining a legacy that has served in every American campaign since the Civil War. Upon the completion of your training you will be inducted into a brotherhood that has stood for 244 years defending our great nation’s freedom,” a drill sergeant informed the trainees.
Master Sgt. Adam Breeding, executive officer to the FORSCOM command sergeant major, said the Infantry motto is “Follow me,” and that’s what the drill sergeants are showing the trainees. The drill sergeants are leading from the front.
“It’s important for them at this stage to build that team cohesion and to have a leader who is not just yelling at them but is leading them,” Breeding said. “To show what right looks like, from Day 1. This is the building block for them to build their Infantry career.”
This is a better way for the drill sergeants to coach and mentor, Holland said as one of the platoon drill sergeants reminded the platoon not to leave the equipment or a buddy on the side of the road.
And those reminders, while still at a high volume, remain instructive and are never just wasted air, Breeding said.