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                 So, what really makes you a good Drill Sergeant? This is going to really hurt my pride to even dare say this but I have the courage to admit it! The CG wrote an article a while back saying that it’s the NCO that makes the hat not the hat that makes
the Drill Sergeant. Believe me, I thought that this was the biggest line of bull to date that I have ever heard. But now that I am within a month left here on the trail, I see it! The CG is right, you have to be a strong and good NCO before you become a Drill Sergeant. I do believe that the Drill Sergeant Academy makes a better NCO, however you must have a good foundation first. You will meet NCO’s that have no clue how to handle Soldier issues or even how to mentor people. As a Senior Drill Sergeant you will need to mentor your peers because some of them will have no idea how to handle things that are way outside their comfort zone. Do it! What will it hurt by sharing the knowledge with your peers?
How to be successful here? First dig into the manuals, be the subject matter expert at the basics. Second, cross talk with other Drill Sergeant’s
across the formations, and see what do they do, how do they teach. Third, buy in early to your Commander’s vision. The sooner you by in and drink the kool aid the faster and easier your life will become here. Get the Trainees to buy in and maybe, just maybe, you will find out something that you never knew before. If you are always looking over your shoulder wondering if this or that is going to get me fired or in trouble, then you should rethink your approach while training. It all boils down to understanding that times are different and people change. I needed to figure out how to teach each group, every cycle, in order to see what would work for them.
You have to understand what is considered unethical, illegal and immoral. You can’t be the combative NCO that fights everything you disagree with or every battle! If you can understand that and stay within your left and right limits, when
it comes time to push back on something your chain of command will be more willing to listen
to you. I am a firm believer in this rule, if you
don’t understand something, just ask this simple question. What if I was in this situation? What would be the best way to handle it? I know that no one’s first line supervisor would be mad if you ask
these questions. Furthermore, I will bet that you are not the only one thinking it! Most importantly, you must be able to adapt to change. Clarence Darrow said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.”
I am telling you now, if you cannot adapt, you will not last long in this job! The most dangerous phrase in the English langue is “this is the way
we have always done it.” Don’t be afraid to accept change to meet the commander’s intent. This is the “Why” generation. I’m not saying that every “why” must be answered, maybe giving the Trainees the “why” once in while will help you stay on top of your game. This can only help you become a better coach, trainer, mentor and master of your craft. You should consider finding a hobby to blow off steam, I shoot my bow on my spare time. This will help keep your sanity intact while on the trail!
If you want to be successful here and leave a better person than when you came, learn to be adaptive and understand that you ARE the example your future Soldiers see and will emulate. Just like young adults, they are very impressionable, they want to be us and could base their new career off of what they learn from us. Be courageous out there! Remember everyone is afraid of failure. The only way to fail is to refuse to learn.
SFC Leal Potter is a Senior Drill Sergeant in Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 193rd Infantry Brigade.
Stay Sharp
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