04/18/2017 | By Stephanie A. Hargett 108th Training Command (IET)
The TFM mission is unique – Army drill sergeants training Navy individual augmentees for overseas deployments.
“That’s what the Navy wanted, they wanted drill sergeants out there, they want the campaign hats out there so that the Sailors will see that and hopefully respond in a more positive way,” said Det 5 Command Sgt. Maj. David Grantham.
Although the Navy wants the presence of the drill sergeants, they don’t want the famous “shock and awe” experience for their Sailors.
“We definitely can’t turn the drill sergeant mode on,” Grantham explained. “For drill sergeants going into TFM, they are drill sergeants, but they aren’t really doing drill sergeant duties, they are more of instructors. They wear the hat, but they don’t conduct themselves the same way. It’s a little different, your audience is different.”
Even though the mobilization is not the typical drill sergeant job, Soldiers are able to utilize some of the skills obtained while going through the United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy.
“It’s total night and day. As far as a drill sergeant goes, it’s more the ‘knife hand’ and molding a brand new recruit off the street, taking a civilian and making them into a Soldier,” said Grantham. “Here (at TFM) the population are seasoned Sailors who’ve already been deployed, been in the service a certain number of years and we teach them how the Army, talks how the Army acts.”
Although taking a drill sergeant and teaching them to become more of a mentor/instructor versus mentor/disciplinarian was tough, Grantham said most of his Soldiers figured it out really quick.
For a few soldiers, this was their first time conducting training while wearing the infamous hat.
Sgt. Josue Lebron graduated from USADSA and had only been back in Puerto Rico for about a month before he headed to Camp McCrady, S.C.
Lebron wasn’t the only soldier new to the drill sergeant way of life.
“I have a lot of young drill sergeants, some don’t even have trail time. The youngest one (Garcia) was 26 years old and turned 27 during the tour,” said Grantham. “She had never been mobilized and she is what we call a ‘baby drill’.
Although Garcia and Lebron came in with school knowledge and no practical knowledge, Grantham really felt like his Soldiers matured throughout the year.
“They were able to go through the learning curve of learning to be an instructor versus being drill sergeants ... they did very well. They’re leaving a lot stronger and more knowledgeable, they’re great noncommissioned officers,” Grantham said.
Although not all soldiers came from the Puerto Rico unit, the Soldiers were still able to build a solid, cohesive team.
With thirty two of the Soldiers from Puerto Rico and 10 augmentees scattered in from across the Southeast, integration could have been difficult but TFM-D5 placed a mixture of organic and augmentee troops into each company and went to work.
“The companies did really well. They took care of each other and they grew together. Alpha and Bravo really supported each other really well,” Grantham said. “I can’t say enough how well they did. They did a great job and set a high bar.
A strong combination of discipline and training ensured that TFM-D% had a 99 percent success rate with over 1,200 Sailors successfully passed through Camp McCrady, and the final one percent were usually unsuccessful for medical reasons.
“Being a drill sergeant at Task Force Marshall is no easy feat,” explained Grantham. “We came in 100 percent and we are leaving at 100 percent.”