Attrition: Downsizing DIs

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June 13,2008: The U.S. Army is cutting back on the number ofDrill Sergeants (also called DIs, but that's actually a USMC term), closing one of the three schools for training them. There are currently 5,300 Drill Sergeants, but 57 percent of them are reservists. It's the active duty Drill Sergeants that handle the training of the 80,000 new recruits that enter the army each year, and the army is putting more Drill Sergeants into that, and far fewer into AIT (Advanced Individual Training). The army has found that, with so many combat experienced NCOs available, and better recruits coming out of revamped (because of wartime experience) basic training, it can get away with regular NCOs handling AIT training. In some respects, this approach may even be better, because the kind of NCOs now encountered in AIT will be much like the kind encountered in regular units. Drill Sergeants can be, many trainees will agree, a bit unreal.

Only the top ten percent of army sergeants (usually E-6 and E-7) qualify for Drill Sergeants school. This lasts nine weeks, and there are some washouts. After that, the Drill Sergeants serve 2-3 years training new recruits at basic training (nine weeks long), or those attending their AIT. This is another nine weeks for the infantry, but varies (usually less than nine weeks) for other specialties. Serving as a Drill Sergeant is a big help in getting promoted, as Drill Sergeant duty is considered a worthy accomplishment. NCOs, for example, have a much better chance of becoming officers (via Officer Candidate School) if theyhave served two years as a Drill Sergeant .

Finally, with a war on, the army wants most of its best NCOs with the troops, either in combat, or getting ready to go there.

 


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