From the Commanding General


To my Teammates of the 108th Training Command, it is my great privilege to share opportunities of your successes with others.  That was no less the case when I was honored by the invitation of an extraordinary leader and partner, CSM Gilmer, the Commandant of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy to speak at the graduation ceremony conducted on March 8, 2017.  There were 91 graduates, 16 from the 108th.  Of the 16, five were on the Commandant’s list.  One stood alone with the trifecta of excellence: Commandant’s List, Distinguished Honor Graduate, and Iron Drill: Female.  That was SSG Brianna Popp.  The following is an excerpt of the remarks I shared at the graduation ceremony.  Although focused on the graduates themselves, the words I share truly apply to us all.

As CSM Riti and I were travelling here last night from Atlanta, we stepped onto a plane which had some 10 or so young men and women who were travelling to Columbia, SC to begin the journey of being a Soldier.  They were a pretty chatty group as you might expect.  Full of excitement and anxiety as they inched closer to the institution we call the United Sates Army.  I’m sure they were wondering what laid before them.  It was clear they had heard much about what they were about to experience. 

Some talked about how they understood that upon arrival they would have to remain awake for up to 36 hours as they entered into the Army.  Some talked about the rigors of the training they were about to endure. Some spoke of the difficulty of doing push-ups, running and ruck marching.   As they stepped off of the plane they continued to be pretty talkative as they walked together clearing the security zone of TSA.  As they rounded the corner near the USO station, they saw a Drill Sergeant with another 20 or so young people standing in two ranks, quiet and at a relaxed at ease while holding a large manila colored envelope.  The group I was walking behind became quiet and realized they had arrived.   Every one of them wondered about the first person they would meet…the icon for what the Army was all about…the person they would put their complete trust and indeed their life into the care of… their Drill Sergeant!

As Drill Sergeants, you are a symbol of what the Army is and what it stands for.  For these young recruits, YOU are their first impression which will be their lasting impression of the decision they made to join America’s Team.  When they arrive a little later at their respective Army Training Center, they will meet you. Their Drill Sergeant …America’s gatekeeper to building America’s might:  THE United States Army!  I suspect everyone in this room who has served in the Army remembers their Drill Sergeant.  I do from 35 years ago as SFC Taylor was that person for me. 

In my estimation, the Drill Sergeant is the embodiment of THE professional standards we espouse as a profession.  The Drill Sergeant not only holds to the highest of standards in word and deed, but teaches others how they too can embrace these standards.  The Drill Sergeant is the standard bearer for what right looks like.  The Drill Sergeant is the one who personifies the hollowed words General MacArthur spoke of: Duty, Honor, Country. 

Words have meaning and that is no less the case when describing the Drill Sergeant.  Words like professional; Soldier; Warrior; Non-Commissioned Officer; coach; mentor, trainer and Champion. Where in all you do, you display Courage, Candor, Competence and commitment.  You symbolize the essence of a standards based profession of arms, personifying what is firm, fair and consistent.  You are a master of the field craft of being a Soldier not only knowing the tasks, but instructing citizen volunteers in everything from the proper wear of the Army’s uniform; to how to shoot, move and communicate; to being a disciplined American Soldier ready to serve a Nation and protecting the Constitution of the United States…THIS WE’LL DEFEND.

In this day and time, we are privileged to be a part of an institution which has done more good for more people than any other Army.   Indeed, YOU are part of the greatest Army the world has ever seen in the history of the world.  And what sets us apart from all the others.  It’s the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps and indeed the highest standard bearer…the Drill Sergeant.  Leaders who have been placed in an enormous position of trust and is values based.  Our values:  Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.  It is you who will instill these values into the citizen volunteer you have been charged in training and transforming into Soldiers. 

Of all of these values, I believe the value of RESPECT is probably the most important.  Certainly the other values in particular integrity are foundational to what we all are as leaders, but it’s the one word in the middle which I believe stands out most.  Respect for the institution of our Army; respect for standards, legacy and traditions we hold to;  respect for our fellow Soldiers; for themselves and respect for their Drill Sergeant.  If you only remember one thing from my remarks today, it is this: never do anything that disrespects or brings discredit to the institution, our heritage, our Army.  Instead, be a leader…be the one that stands up for what’s right and invests well in those who you are beginning to pass the torch of being a professional American Soldier to.  Be America’s Drill Sergeant!

In closing, let me say that you are joining an elite fraternity of professionals.  Everyone in the Army is able to claim the Soldiers Creed.  Many can espouse the NCO Creed.  But it is you, our honored Drill Sergeant Graduates that have the privilege of owning the Drill Sergeant Creed.  Live it. Own it.  Honor it every day.

  First in Training! Army Strong.


Contact Us

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.