FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Sgt.1st Class Jason Scott’s face looked calm and focused as he looked straight ahead. While it has been a long, arduous three days with one more to go, he showed no signs of stopping as he continued to run the 12 laps that made up the final portion of an extended version of the Army Physical Fitness Test. Already, Scott, along with his fellow drill sergeants and platoon sergeants have been pushed to their physical and mental limits during the Army’s annual Drill Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant of the Year competition.
The APFT is administered to all Soldiers of both the active component and Army Reserve twice a year. The test consists of push-ups and sit-ups, both of which they are given two minutes to complete, and the run portion is 2 miles. Drill Sergeants, however, are not only required to hold themselves to the highest standards, they do so with a collective passion. They understand that they are directly responsible for leading America’s newest Soldiers by example from day one of Basic Combat Training.
Throughout the past three days, Scott has been tested on every task and drill that he trains his recruits to execute proficiently before earning the title of Soldiers. Marksmanship, nighttime land navigation, written tests, a formidable obstacle course, along with other physically and mentally challenging events were judged by how quick and precise they were performed. The competitors, whom already standout at their units arrive at this demanding but prestigious event to determine who among them is the best of the best.
Scott, hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, speaks deliberately, with a slight southern accent. His facial expression, like the expression he wore as he went through the competition is one of focus although at rest, it also conveys a sense of kindness. His demeanor is disarming, giving the impression that he is both approachable and easy to talk to, traits that all good leaders possess. Traits that ensure their Soldiers can come to them, knowing that they will listen to them and help them to resolve their issues.
Scott joined the Army Reserves in 2003, going to BCT after graduating from the University of Tulsa, motivated by his sense of service.
“September 11th happened during my sophomore year in college and I wanted do my part, to serve my country,” said Scott.
Scott was assigned to the 95th Training Division (Initial Entry Training) with the Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) 71L, administrative specialist. It was not long before his MOS was phased out, without a similar replacement. Faced with mandatory re-classification, he chose to become an 11B, an infantryman. A traditionally tough, physically demanding and dangerous field, Scott quickly found himself enjoying his new job.
“I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. I find that it fits well with attending noncommissioned officer schools as well as being a drill sergeant. I also like the continuous practice of small unit tactics such as entering and clearing a room, first aid, battle drills as well as fire team and squad movements,” said Scott.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Scott an Army Reserve drill sergeant with the 95th Training Division, 108th Training Command (IET) gets help removing his rucksack from fellow competitor and Army Reserve drill Sergeant, Sgt. Ryan Moldovan, after crossing the finish line of the 12-mile road march Sept. 9. The road march was the final event of the Army’s annual Drill Sergeant/Platoon Sergeant of the Year competition event held at Fort Jackson, S.C. from Sept. 6-9. The event tests the competitors in a variety of Soldier tasks and drills such as the Army Physical Fitness Test, weapons knowledge, marksmanship as well as a timed 12 mile road march carrying a basic combat load and weapon. U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. Javier Amador
Scott eventually made the decision to become a drill sergeant. He went on to attend the academy in June 2006 but not before he met his future wife a week prior. He graduated from the academy in July that same year. His brother, Staff Sgt. John Scott, is also a drill sergeant and is also assigned to his brigade in the 95th Training Division. They also had a moment where they worked together during a recent Echo mission.
The Echo mission is an ongoing program that allows Army Reserve drill sergeants to work alongside their active duty counterparts. It is a mission that benefit both components because the Army Reserve drill sergeants can train new Soldiers while keeping up with any changes the Army may make to its training doctrine while the active duty drill sergeants are helped by the additional fully qualified drill sergeants that help meet a part of the drill sergeant shortage the Army currently faces.
“This year we performed an echo mission at Fort Sill and worked with the same platoon,” said Scott. “We really enjoyed working together as drill sergeants on the same mission”.
In January 2007, Scott deployed to Afghanistan, where his unit completed a 16 monthlong tour of duty before returning to the United States. Eventually, he found himself assigned as his units acting first sergeant.
First Sergeants are usually the most senior enlisted Soldier in companies within artillery batteries. They are the Commander’s senior enlisted representative, working side by side in planning and executing their unit’s training and mission.
As his company’s acting first sergeant he has put many Soldiers through the academy. Scott however, believes most of the knowledge needed can be taught, although people don’t necessarily look the part before the transformation process at the academy.
“I would say that many things can be learned without having to go to drill sergeant school,” said Scott, “But what is (most) important is your moral center, you need to do the right thing, the right way, every time, when no one is looking.”
Drill sergeants are among the Army’s most proficient Soldiers but more importantly, they are highly proficient in one of the Army’s most difficult missions: turning civilians into Soldiers. Like other instructors, he understands that with BCT Soldiers, like people in many other learning environments tend to forget parts of what they have learned.
When asked about what he wants his Soldiers to remember if they forget everything else, Scott immediately became very serious. His answer came down to four sentences every Soldier must never forget: the Warrior Ethos.
“I will always place the mission first, I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade,” said Scott.