WASHINGTON — The Department of the Army Inspector General has started an unprecedented inspection of all systems, processes and experiences of our newest Soldiers. The New Soldier Experience inspection will examine every aspect of entering Army service, including shipping from the military entrance processing station to Initial Entry Training; Advanced Individual Training, and the first units of assignment. It will examine reception, quality of life initiatives, the training experience, and why some are motivated to leave the Army before the completion of their first enlistment.
The New Soldier Experience inspection, which could take up to a year to complete, began in mid-March when inspectors and subject matter experts from both the operating and generating force arrived at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for a pre-inspection.
Lt. Gen. Donna W. Martin, the 67th Inspector General of the Army, emphasized the significance of the New Soldier Experience inspection.
“This inspection ties directly to the priorities of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army,” she said. “It is imperative that we build cohesive teams and create a positive command climate from the moment a new Soldier enlists into the Army. The young men and women joining our Army today want a challenge, and they desire to be a part of something greater than themselves. We really have to get their initial experience in our Army right.”
What is the New Soldier Experience inspection?
The New Soldier Experience inspection will include interviews with leaders, trainers, cadre and Soldiers, and review processes and programs at 38 Army locations across all components from March 2022 through the end of the year. Inspectors will also interview command teams, drill sergeants, medical providers, reception center personnel, Soldiers in training and Soldiers who are exiting the Army before completing their initial enlistments, along with many other groups who affect the experience on these installations.
“The New Soldier Experience inspection differs from any other inspection conducted because it is a comprehensive look at all the systems that support the civilian to military transition and our first-term Soldiers,” Martin said. “It will look at the experience our newest Soldiers are having in the training base and at their first units of assignment.”
The objectives of the New Soldier Experience inspection include:
- Assessing the Army’s ability to transform civilian volunteers into professional Soldiers with common core values, ethical reasoning, motivation and discipline.
- Examining the new Soldiers’ experience from Initial Entry Training through their arrival at their initial duty assignments.
- Additionally, the New Soldier Experience inspection will identify best practices and centers of excellence that the Army can replicate to ensure new Soldiers prosper and contribute to the Army’s readiness.
Why New Soldier Experience inspection, and why now?
In September 2021, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth approved Martin's recommendation to begin an all-encompassing, special inspection of the Army's process to integrate new Soldiers into the ranks. The Inspector General acts as the eyes, ears, voice and conscience of the Army.
The New Soldier Experience inspection will specifically address three of Secretary Wormuth’s six priorities:
- Build positive command climates at scale across all Army formations.
- Reduce harmful behaviors in our Army.
- Strategically adapt the way we recruit and retain talent into the Army in order to sustain the all-volunteer force.
“The effort being put forth by the entire IG system in support of New Soldier Experience inspection is commendable,” Wormuth said in a video address to the Worldwide Inspector General Conference in April.
The inspection will continue into late 2022, with a full report to Army senior leaders to follow in the months after that. Secretary Wormuth will review the final inspection report to find ways to improve how the Army trains, mentors, and integrates new Soldiers into effective and cohesive teams.