Inspired is all I can say. Inspired with the professionalism and exceptional performance of our Drill Sergeant candidates at the United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy. CSM Priest and I just returned from the graduation ceremony of Drill Sergeant Class 002 at Fort Jackson, S.C. In that class, not only did the 98th Division have thirteen Drill Sergeant Graduates (Hooah!), but it had the Distinguished Honor Graduate (SSG Briana Popp), Iron Female (SSG Briana Popp) and four graduates on the Commandants List (SFC James Brennen, SSG Briana Popp, SSG Gary Tenhaaf, SGT Timothy Thelen). CSM Priest and I want to personally thank our Drill Sergeant Graduates for their personal dedication and commitment to excellence, the families for their support and understanding, and Command Teams (Company through Brigade) for their encouragement and support of the pursuit of excellence. You all have so much to be proud of. We all have so much to be proud of!
I need each and every Soldier, NCO, and Officer in this Division recruiting new viable Drill Sergeant Candidates for our formations.
Over the next quarter, I want you to focus on three things:
1. Drill Sergeant Production
This is the Division’s number one priority. I need each and every Soldier, NCO, and Officer in this Division recruiting new viable Drill Sergeant Candidates for our formations. I need Command Teams assessing their Drill Candidates and getting them scheduled for Drill Sergeant Academy. (This year!) During our visit to the Battalions, CSM Priest and I are finding numerous Drill Sergeant Candidates without dates for the Drill Sergeant Academy. I liken that to driving a car without having a destination or being on a land navigation course without points. In both situations, you are working without a goal or objective in mind. How do you know if you are on track? How do you plan and prepare? Command Teams must assess their Drill Sergeant candidates during their first BA in the units. This includes assessing all 13 requirements to be a Drill Sergeant and selecting their Drill Sergeant Academy dates. Got a date? If you are a Drill Sergeant Candidate without a Drill Sergeant Academy date, get with your first line leader, get assessed, and get a date! If you are a Command Team with Drill Sergeant Candidates without a Drill Sergeant Academy date, assess them and get a date! Over the next quarter the Division will be rolling out our “Got a Date” campaign to ensure that every Drill Sergeant Candidate has been assessed and has a date for the Drill Sergeant Academy.
2. Conducting tough, challenging, METL-based training outside of the Reserve Center.
Our ability to execute our missions, recruit viable Drill Sergeant Candidates, and retain Drill Sergeants (Combat Readiness) relies on our ability to effectively plan, execute, and assess challenging, METL-based training OUTSIDE of our reserve centers. I expect Battalions to be conducting two Field Training Exercises each year. I expect Company Commanders getting their units out of the Center to conduct challenging training. Units that conduct great training attract great Soldiers! No great story started with “When I was in the Drill Center I…”
3. Improving your MedicalDental Readiness.
I expect Leaders at all echelons to be responsible for their own personal Soldier Readiness and the Soldier Readiness of the Soldiers in their areas of responsibility. Leaders must understand and utilize information systems such as DTMS, CSMM, EES and have systems and processes in place to ensure that all of the Soldiers within their area of responsibility stay in compliance with Soldier Readiness Requirements. During this next quarter, we will be conducting a Division Heath Readiness Challenge (Top 5 and 5 Most Improved Companies, Top 2 and 2 Most Improved Battalions, Top Brigade, Perfect Company, Perfect Brigade Command Teams).
If all of us across the 98th focus on these three areas, we will build an even stronger force. Together, we can make those little adjustments because that is what dynamic Leaders do.
Take care of your Soldiers, Civilians, and their families, and always demonstrate professionalism. Hold your subordinates accountable for their actions and demonstrate the Army values 24/7. As CSM Priest and I visit your units, I encourage you to ask us questions, let us know your concerns, and share your ideas. Together we will make the 98th Division the Army’s Initial Military Training Division of choice to expand its capability to provide agile and adaptive combat-ready Warfighters ready to “Win in a Complex World.”
“Standards, Discipline, and Trust”