This individual is responsible for the training of new recruits at the boot camps of the United States Armed Forces. Usually "drill sergeant" is only a title, their actual rank being Gunnery Sergeant or something similar. These people are usually *not* sadists, just very, very good at what they do. Masters of hazing, if you will.
Drill Sergeant (DS) is a term used primarily in the United States Army. The United States Air Force and United States Marine Corps use the term drill instructor. Soldiers can become drill sergeants in one of two ways: volunteering (unlikely unless the soldier is a reservist) or by DA Select. Minimum requirements for becoming a drill sergeant are the rank of Staff Sergeant (Sergeant is allowable in the reserves only), a 110 GT on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), 70 points per event on an APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test), and a clean mental health record.

Once selected and approved, the Drill Sergeant Candidate (DSC) must attend the Drill Sergeant School (DSS). This school is 9 weeks long and is often deemed more difficult than Basic Combat Training (BCT or more commonly referred to as "boot camp"). During their time at this course, the DSC learns how to teach and conduct physical training (PT), teach basic marching and facing movements, attention to detail, diagnosing shot groups during BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship), and many other grueling details. The drill sergeant is an instructor, a mentor, a disciplinarian. It is his job to turn a civilian into a soldier. He is responsible for teaching recruits the basics they need to survive on the battlefield. If a recruit does not learn something, or learns it improperly, they will most likely die in combat, or contribute to the death of a teammate.

These last ideas are encompassed in the Drill Sergeant Creed:

Drill Sergeant Creed

I am a drill sergeant.

I will assist each individual in their efforts to become a highly motivated, well disciplined, physically and mentally fit soldier capable of defeating any enemy on today's modern battlefield.

I will instill pride in all I train. Pride in Self, in the Army, and in Country.

I will insist that each soldier meets and maintains the Army standards of military bearing and courtesy, consistent with the highest traditions of the US Army.

I will lead by example, never requiring a soldier to attempt any task I would not do myself.

But first, last, and always, I am an American Soldier, sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

I am a drill sergeant.

(a line-by-line explanation of the creed will be in its own node)


It all began in 1962 when the Secretary of the Army directed his Assistant Secretary, Stephen Ailes to conduct a survey of Army recruit training. Secretary Ailes conducted it over a long period of time (no specific dates are given) and included comparisons to Marine, Navy and Air Force training techniques. The final report had five major issues (complete with recommendations to fix them). First and foremost was the poor attitude of the noncommisioned officers assigned to the training centers. This was due to long working hours, the demanding nature of the job, and lack of personal time for family. All of this was mainly due to understaffing (though even today, drill sergeants only make up 2% of the Army), and the poor quality of assigned NCO's.

From April to June 1964 pilot courses were run at Fort Jackson, South Carolina for selected officers and NCO's. In July and August of the same year, the new concept was tested with a battalion in Fort Jackson, and a company in Fort Gordon, Georgia. The success of these two training environmentsled to an Army-wide adoption of the techniques, including the formation of several Drill Sergeant Schools (DSS). Thus began the "train-the-trainer" concept and the first drill sergeants began training soldiers.

The Hat

The drill sergeant's most distinguishing feature is the hat. It is based on the campaign hat used in the United States Army from 1850 to 1939, but most notable used during World War I. It has since evolved into a modified felt "Montana Peak".

There were no female drill sergeants until 1972, and they were given different hats than the males. The female drill sergeant hat was designed by BG (Brigadier General) Mildered C. Bailey and based on the Australian bush hat (think Crocodile Dundee). The first female drill sergeant hat was beige, but was replaced by a dark green one (style unchanged) in January 1983.

A proposal was made in 1984-1985 (again no specific dates), that would allow female drill sergeants to switch to the same hat as the males (all drill instructors in the Marines wear the same hat, male or female). Female drill sergeants at TRADOC (TRAining and DOctrine Command) posts opposed the idea, and in June 1985, the Army Chief of Staff stated that female drill sergeants would continue to wear the female drill sergeant hat.

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