By Ms. Stephanie Slater (TRADOC)September 26, 2012
FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- The Army's top nine advanced individual training, or AIT, platoon sergeants are competing for the title of 2012 AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year during a competition at Fort Eustis, Va., this week. Among them is Fort Huachuca Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Baca, the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade's Platoon Sergeant of the Year for 2012.
These elite AIT platoon sergeants will undergo physical and mental challenges during the competition, which tests their knowledge of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, or WTBD, and their ability to teach these tasks to Soldiers in a training setting.
WTBD are the fundamental combat skills that all Soldiers must perform in order to fight and win on the battlefield.
Each competitor will appear before a board of command sergeants major to evaluate their knowledge of leadership and platoon sergeant training tasks. One challenging aspect of the competition is that platoon sergeants are purposely unaware of the tasks they will be required to perform.
Initial Military Training Center of Excellence, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command will host an awards ceremony to announce the winner at 9 a.m., Friday, at Jacobs Theater, 647 Monroe Ave., Fort Eustis.
The winner will receive the Meritorious Service Medal and serve a one-year tour as an adviser to the deputy commanding general of Initial Military Training, or IMT. In this role, he or she will provide ground-level experience and insight into the Army's initial entry training.
AIT platoon sergeants are top-performing professional noncommissioned officers from virtually all branches of the Army who play a critical role in the success of AIT training. After basic combat training, new Soldiers attend AIT, where they become experts in their specific military occupational specialties, known as MOSs. The AIT platoon sergeants mentor the new Soldiers, working with them after classes and on weekends to teach and reinforce technical lessons and WTBD.
Currently there are more than 700 Army platoon sergeants serving at 24 AIT schools and training centers. These platoon sergeants play a critical role in the success of this training. They set the tone for the new Soldiers' first duty assignments, a direct impact on the readiness of the entire U.S. Army.