Reserve and Active Drill Sergeants Work Together at Ft. Jackson

01/28/2018   Story and photos by Spc. Jeremiah Woods
 

Hundreds of recruits enter Fort Jackson, S.C. each year with the expectation of leaving as trained, skilled and lethal Soldiers in the U.S. Army. The responsibility of the drill sergeants is to turn these civilians into Soldiers and ensure they learn the skills that will take them through their career in the military. The majority of drill sergeants at Fort Jackson are from the active duty component, However, throughout the year a significant contingent of Army Reserve drill sergeants rotate through in order to to aid their active counterparts.

The Army Reserve drill sergeants at Fort Jackson serve along side their active duty counterparts to train new recruits going through basic combat training (BCT). Fort Jackson sees an influx of recruits coming into BCT each year during the summer months; an event known as the “summer surge.”

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U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Dillard Jr., a drill sergeant with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., follows a recruit as he runs for cover during a training exercise on the team live-fire range at Fort Jackson, Aug. 3, 2017. Army Reserve drill sergeants work with active duty drill sergeants at Fort Jackson to counter the influx of new recruits that occurs during the summer months. U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeremiah Woods

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Dillard Jr., a senior drill sergeant with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson instructs a recruit as he high crawls during a training exercise on the team live-fire range at Fort Jackson, Aug. 3, 2017. Army Reserve drill sergeants work with active duty drill sergeants at Fort Jackson to counter the influx of new recruits that occurs during the summer months.

U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeremiah Woods

U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Seemann and Staff Sgt. Ontavious Woodard, with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., observe recruits as they begin a training exercise on the Omaha Beach team live-fire range at Fort Jackson, Aug. 3, 2017. U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants assist their active duty counterparts at Fort Jackson during the summer months when recruit levels are highest.

U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeremiah Woods

U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Ontavious Woodard, a drill sergeant with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., observes a recruit as she clears her weapon system during a training exercise on the team live-fire range at Fort Jackson, Aug. 3, 2017. Army Reserve drill sergeants work with active duty drill sergeants at Fort Jackson to counter the influx of new recruits that occurs during the summer months.

U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeremiah Woods

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Seemann, a drill sergeant with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C., inspects a recruit’s weapon system after a training exercise on the team live-fire range at Fort Jackson, Aug. 3, 2017. Army Reserve drill sergeants work with active duty drill sergeants at Fort Jackson to counter the influx of new recruits that occurs during the summer months.

U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeremiah Woods

Many new recruits are high school or college students that split their BCT and advanced individual training (AIT) into two separate parts throughout the year. As a result, Fort Jackson sees a significant increase in recruits during the summer, explains Capt. Michael Mascari, commander of Foxtrot Co., 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson.

The drill sergeants coming from the Army Reserve are trained in the same manner as their active duty counterparts, says Mascari. A major difference between Soldiers from the two components is that, when not serving as drill sergeants, Soldiers from the Army Reserve also hold a civilian job.

“As a Reserve Soldier, we train as drill sergeants throughout the year,” says Army Reserve Sgt. Jessica Pate, a junior drill sergeant attached to Foxtrot Co., 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson and originally part of Foxtrot Co., 1st Battalion, 321st Infantry Regiment out of Lumberton, NC. “Then we take what we know and come out here; we take all of those extra Soldiers, and we use what we know from the military and then from our civilian experience in the outside world and then we apply it and we just kind of help build this mission.”

Many of the drill sergeants from the Army Reserve recognize their unique ability to contribute to the training mission at Fort Jackson.

“We have some things that we can bring to the table that maybe some active duty drill sergeants don’t have,” said Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Dillard Jr., a senior drill sergeant attached to Bravo Co., 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson and originally from Foxtrot Co. 1st Battalion 321st Infantry Regiment out of Lumberton, N.C.  “I used to work with troubled youth from 16 to 18 years old. So I might have insight on the psyche of some of these youth. I might be able to speak to them differently.”

One of the biggest attributes of the Army Reserve drill sergeants, says Mascari, is their ability to step into an active duty role and fill that role with the professionalism of an active duty Soldier.

“Whenever we step foot on ground, that very day, we are just thrown in there like a regular drill sergeant,” said Pate. “Just from being in our unit and going to drill sergeant school, we kind of know how to step in and take over what is needed to be picked up and we just run with it.”

“When you go see training in our battalion, you can’t tell the difference between the active duty drill sergeants and the Reserve drill sergeants,” said Army Lt. Col. Jason Pieri, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson. “Our active duty operational support drill sergeants are here for six months. Unless you know they’re active drill sergeants, you wouldn’t know. They’re great additions to the team.”

They conduct themselves as an active duty drill sergeant would, said Mascari about his Reserve soldiers. “I would  put my worst drill sergeant up against the best in the Army, I’m that confident in their abilities.”

LTG Charles D. Luckey, commanding general, United States Army Reserve Command has expressed his vision of the Army Reserve being a lethal, capable and combat ready force. The reserve drill sergeants at Fort Jackson are shining example of that vision coming to fruition.

“We have to turn these civilians into Soldiers,” said Dillard. “Once they become Soldiers, some of them will actually be National Guard or Reserve themselves. If we don’t prepare these Soldiers, then we’re wrong. Whether they’re Reserve, National Guard or Active Duty; they have to be prepared to fight the fight.”

“When we’re deployed, the standard and the expectation will be the same,” said Mascari. “Yes, we have Reserve component, National Guard and Active component, but at the end of the day, we are all Soldiers. We all wear the same flag.”

Turning recruits into Soldiers can be a daunting task. The Army Reserve drill sergeants who volunteer for the mission are willing to face this task with the same confidence, capability and professionalism that any Soldier would.

 

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The Griffon Spring 2018

Vol. 42.1 | Spring 2018

The Griffon
The Griffon is written and published quarterly in the interest of the 108th National Training Command.

 






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