By Capt. Kyle Smith, A Co. Commander and Capt. Johnathan Lipinski, AS-3 2nd Battalion, 317th Regiment, 2nd Brigade
In the summer of 2020, the 2-317th Regiment used and adapted a best management practice from the past, Hat Press. Drill sergeant candidates (DSC) from across the battalion were brought together and were trained by some of the battalion’s best drill sergeant leaders (DSL). The main objective in Hat Press is to prepare the DSCs for the Drill Sergeant Academy (DSA). Improvements were seen at all levels during the 2020 event, so much so that the 2-317th will hold at least one annual Hat Press a year.
November 2021 was the latest Hat Press training event held in Bedford, Virginia. Six DSCs started out on a four-day training event to prepare them for DSA. This training event was designed to test the DSCs both mentally and physically. Upon reporting, the DSCs met five of the most experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable DSLs representing most of the companies in the battalion. These DSL’s led them through the demanding training event.
During the Hat Press the DSLs led the DSCs through:
• The “Top Three” Modules: the Position of Attention (POA), Rest Positions at the Halt (RPH), and the Hand Salute
• Practical Drill and Ceremony exercises
• Physical Readiness Training (PRT)
• Army Class instruction
• LHI event
• Reciting the Soldier’s and Drill Sergeant’s Creed
• Developing and executing their own PRT plans
• Army Combat Fitness Test
• Combat Lifesaver Course (CLS)
• Competing their DSA packets
During Hat Press three additional candidates joined the training totaling nine candidates trained. The candidates started out with little to no knowledge of the modules, PRT, Drill and Ceremony, Army Class instruction, the Soldier’s and Drill Sergeant’s Creed, and CLS. With the training complete the candidates now have a greater understanding “The Top Three” and can pitch to a passing standard on the Modules and are familiar with all the other topics.
Along with the candidates outstanding improvement over the four-day course, they developed a great esprit de corps that will help their unity as they become future leaders.
The DSCs were not the only ones watching and learning. Each of the DSLs worked together to help train and mentor the DSCs. The DSLs were honing their skills when it came to teaching and instructing. Those skills are of upmost important when these DS are called upon to help with all of the mission sets seen by the 2-317th. It allowed the DSL, company, and battalion leadership to witness the function and attention it takes to recruit and retain DS in addition to the effectiveness of a concerted battalion effort to achieve its objectives.