Army changing basic training this October

| October 2, 2015 | 0 Comments
File photo FORT JACKSON — Trainee Soldiers swing their way along a horizontal ladder under the guidance of Sgt. 1st Class Danielle Brooks, drill sergeant, 2-39th Inf. Regt., 165th Inf. Bde., in this 2014 photo.

File photo
FORT JACKSON — Trainee Soldiers swing their way along a horizontal ladder under the guidance of Sgt. 1st Class Danielle Brooks, drill sergeant, 2-39th Inf. Regt., 165th Inf. Bde., in this 2014 photo.

 In Part 1 of the four-part series, the Army preps with evaluations

Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Who’s the best judge of how well a young person is performing in Basic Combat Training (BCT)?

It turns out the Army thinks that other basic trainees might be really good at evaluating how their peers are doing.

In October, the Army will make some changes to how it runs BCT, which serves for enlisted Soldiers as their first introduction to soldiering. One of those changes includes peer evaluations, something that is already being done in places like Ranger School.

With peer evaluation, Soldiers in BCT units will evaluate each other on how they are adhering to standards, performing on tasks, and even if they shine when the drill sergeant is away in the same way they shine when he’s glowering over them in formation.

“Nobody is going to know you more than the guy next to you,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Woods, with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Center for Initial Military Training.

“If I am the instructor, all of your buddies you are with know the things you are doing that the instructor never caught,” he said. “Maybe you are only spotlighting when the instructor is around. But when he’s not around, everybody has to pull your weight. This peer evaluation lets Soldiers see themselves through the eyes of their peers.”

The peer evaluation won’t be entirely new for basic training. Already at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, a peer evaluation pilot program was tried out. But in October, it will be implemented at all four Army basic training locations, including Fort Jackson; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Fort Benning, Georgia.

Woods said that the peer evaluations will primarily serve as an indicator of character for Soldiers – which will allow the Army to better evaluate some of the things that are important about being a Soldier, but which are harder to measure through testing and performance.

“Some people will get all the warrior tasks, battle drills and skills, because they are physically inclined,” Woods said. “But their character may have an issue. That peer evaluation will help us uncover that character. As a result, a Soldier may spend more time in basic training before he ships to that first unit of assignment.”

 A2_Army Changing Basic Training in October

What’s new?

There are more changes to BCT than just the introduction of peer evaluations. The driving force behind changes to BCT is a shift in what the Army thinks Soldiers will need to have under their belt when they make their first salute at their first permanent unit – and this is directly related to the end of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the 14 years after 9/11, Soldiers knew that they’d probably be going to the Middle East after basic training. During that time, the Army was well-equipped and well-funded to recruit, train and equip Soldiers for an ongoing war. That is no longer the case.

Additionally, Soldiers went to their first unit of assignment ready to fight the ongoing conflict. The Army trained those Soldiers in BCT with a focus on the desert, convoys, improvised explosive devices and countering insurgents, for instance. And when Soldiers deployed, most would fall in on a combat environment that was already manned by American Soldiers who’d warmed all the seats for them.

Now, with conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan over for most all of the force, Soldiers must be ready to deploy almost anywhere in the world – not just the desert. And when they get there, they may not find American Soldiers already on the ground. Instead, they must be ready to clear the ground for Soldiers who will follow them. Soldiers must be trained to execute decisive action through combined arms maneuver and must be trained up on wide-area security competencies.

“We are transitioning from an Army at war to an Army in preparation,” said James Walthes, a key designer of the new BCT program of instruction. “With that in mind, we got together at Fort Benning, Georgia, and we brought in company commanders, first sergeants and drill sergeants – the ones that actually deal with the program of instruction on a daily basis. What we looked at was how we could go about preparing our Soldiers to meet the new demands of Force 2025 and beyond.”

(Note: In Part 2, next week, testing and retesting is discussed.)




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Category: Army News Service, News, Training

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