Drill Sergeants mentor cadets for the first time, form bonds

10/20/2016  |  Michelle Eberhart United States Military Academy at West Point
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Staff Sgt. Kristopher K. Jackson, a drill sergeant stationed at Fort Benning, Ga, observes a cadet during the U.S. Military Academy’s Leader Training Program July 13, 2016. 2016 was the first time that the academy used drill sergeants to train cadets during summer training. U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant

West Point, N.Y. — The U.S. Military Academy at West Point integrated current drill sergeants during its Summer Training regimen for the first time in documented history.

The easily distinguished “round browns” could be seen traversing the Academy’s central area this summer as current drill sergeants trained cadets firsthand during the Leader Training Program (LTP). The program provides cadets serving in the cadet chain of command the opportunity, environment, and resources to hone their leadership skills as cadet noncommissioned officers or cadet officers.

The drill sergeants used the “train the trainer” method to teach cadet cadre how to effectively train new cadets in the Class of 2020 during Cadet Basic Training.

“They’re going to be training the new cadets so we’re just showing them those leadership abilities and challenges that they’re going to take on once they get the new cadets,” said Staff Sgt. Kristopher K. Jackson, a drill sergeant from Fort Benning, Georgia.

Jackson mentioned that this was his first time at West Point before and he has appreciated training and interacting cadets.

“I’ve never been in this kind of environment before,” he explained. “I’ve enjoyed it. Especially the field training. I’m in the infantry, so being able to go out and see them putting the tactical knowledge that they’ve learned it into action has been pretty rewarding.”

Sgt. Lauren Connelly, a drill sergeant from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, agrees.

Staff Sgt. John Greiten, a drill sergeant stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., instructs cadets during the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Leader Training Program July 13, 2016. 2016 was the first time that the academy used drill sergeants to train cadets during summer training. U.S. Army photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant

“It’s awesome! It’s beneficial for us, too, because we’re learning from them, the future officer side of the house, and they’re learning from us, the NCO of the house,” Connelly said. “Being at West Point has given me a sense of pride about my job, too. Without good NCOs you can’t have good officers and without good officers, you can’t have good NCOs.”

Connelly also noted that the cadets’ willingness to learn is unmatched.

“They’re just really, really excited and that motivates me,” Connelly added.

Cadet Zachary Taylor, a Class of 2018 cadet, said that he’s learned a lot through the program.

“I’ve learned the most about actually teaching,” said Taylor. “Before, we learned all this knowledge, but now we’re coming back at it from a teacher’s perspective. For the drill sergeants, it’s their job to teach privates. That’s helped me a lot because, before we knew the stuff; now we know how to teach others. That’s been the most helpful thing.”

Class of 2018 Cadet Dylan Panicucci said that bringing drill sergeants to West Point has been beneficial to him and his company.

“Drill Sgt. Jackson has been attached to our company and he’s been really helpful in regards to basic infantry skills, or dealing with personal issues, everything like that,” Panicucci said.

Aside from forming an unlikely camaraderie, Panicucci said he has appreciated the mentorship and wisdom that’s been passed down to him.

“The drill sergeants bring an extra level of professionalism and expertise. As cadets, we’ve actually never dealt with drill sergeants before,” Panicucci said.

“I think the knowledge that they’ve passed on to us on how to lead, inspire and motivate subordinates will be helpful going forward.”

Panicucci hopes that West Point continues to bring drill sergeants in during LTP in the future.

“I think they should definitely keep doing it. It has been helpful out and we’re going to miss having the drill sergeants here once Cadet Basic Training starts,” concluded Panicucci.

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