Each recruit platoon is commanded by Recruit Instructors usually consisting of a Lieutenant, a Sergeant and up to four instructors of the Corporal or Bombardier rank. A Recruit Instructor can be identified by a 1st Recruit Training Battalion colour patch on his or her slouch hat and a small Recruit Instructor badge worn on the right breast pocket, if the position has been held long enough.
Members from all Corps in the Army are eligible to become Recruit Instructors, including females. Experience as a Recruit Instructor is often a prerequisite to senior appointments in the military.
There are two Drill Sergeants per battalion (one in the HAC) and they have specific responsibilities for all duties, public or battalion (royal duties, barrack duties etc). They support the Garrison Sergeant Major (GSM) or Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) in the formation, practice and execution of these duties, typically running the duties roster, supervising rehearsals, and undertaking the guard mounts, both royal and barrack. They also deputise for the RSM in disciplinary matters.
The London District Drill Sergeant supports the GSM in the supervison of the Trooping of the Colour, State Opening of Parliament, Beating the Retreat, and any state visits. He also has responsibility under the GSM for the definition of British Army foot and arms drill.
They can be distinguished from other WO2s by their dress. They have the right to wear Sam Browne belts when in No.2 dress and carry swords (never drawn) on ceremonial duties.
They are the third most senior Warrant Officers within a regimental structure, after the RSM and the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS). The HAC Drill Sergeant is thus the second most senior Territorial Army soldier in the regiment.boot camp. Their responsibilities include areas such as military discipline, physical fitness, and weapons training.
The rank held by drill instructors varies by branch:
The arduous nature of drill instructor duty means that such assignments are among the most prestigious carried out by enlisted personnel. Those who become drill instructors are eligible for a variety of military awards, such as the Marine Drill Instructor Ribbon, and the Army's Drill Sergeant Identification Badge.
In the U.S. Marine Corps, candidates for Drill Instructor (DI) are without exception volunteers. The tour of duty is three years and is widely regarded as one of the most intense, demanding, and important duties in the U.S. Armed Forces. Also, since the duty is referred to as "Making Marines", it often is one of the proudest moments of a Marines career because the responsibility is most directly involved with creating the future Marines of the Marine Corps. Recruits report to either Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California, or to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, where they are assigned to Drill Instructor School. Upon graduation, they are assigned to one of the Recruit Training Battalions. Female Drill Instructors are only trained and only serve at Parris island because that is where the only female Marine Corps recruit training occurs. Service as a Drill Instructor is considered a Special Duty Assignment in the Marine Corps, which is factored into consideration of a Marine's eligibility for promotion. A Marine assigned to DI School must be of at least Sergeant (E-5) rank or Corporal (E-4) on track to promotion to Sergeant by completion of the school.
The school requires instructor candidates to complete every task recruits are required to do. Training day typically begins around 4:00 a.m. (0400 in USMC military time) and ends around 7:30 p.m. (1930 hours), many times with specific training evaluations and end-of-day cleanups that require even longer days. At the end of each day, DI School students have to practice effective time management in studying for exams, practicing drill, rehearsing the teaching of drill movements verbatim, preparing uniforms, all while still making time for intense physical training. The school lasts approximately three months with several classes running throughout the year.
Physical training "PT" as a unit is conducted at least three times a week, with each session lasting approximately two hours. In addition to warming up, stretching, and calisthenics, students complete the "DI Playground," a circuit course that focuses on enhancing upper body strength. Physical training also prepares recruits for the Marine Physical Fitness Test which consists of pull-ups, abdominal crunches, and a 3 mile run. Since a drill instructor is often required to spend up to approaching 20 hours a day on his or her feet and to move fast at all times, various running sessions are conducted to enhance speed and endurance. Students are led by their squad instructors in ability group runs based on speed, gradually increasing distance and speed throughout the course, track workouts, formation runs, and fartlek runs. Drill and discipline are crucial parts of the Drill Instructor School curriculum.
Every student is continuously evaluated, corrected, and mentored, with special attention paid to even the smallest of details, such as the placement of a finger within 1/4 inch of its required location along a trouser seam, angle of the weapon, and positioning of the student in relation to the unit. Required knowledge is constantly taught and evaluated in the form of written exams, practical applications, and inspections. Uniforms are inspected continuously, with surprise inspections conducted randomly in addition to the scheduled inspections. The drill instructor is expected to convey the best possible Marine Corps image to recruits and to America and to conduct his/herself to the highest Marine Corps leadership and integrity standards as well as to impart these standards to every recruit they train. Drill Instructors take a pledge which consists of the following words: "These recruits are entrusted to my care. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Marines, thoroughly indoctrinated in love of Corps and country. I will demand of them, and demonstrate by my own example, the highest standards of personal conduct, morality and professional skill."
Upon completion of Drill Instructor School, drill instructors are assigned to Recruit Training Battalions as junior members ("fourth hats", "third hats", "kill hats", "bulldogs" or, less frequently, "knowledge hats") of drill instructor teams. His or her job consists of constant corrections, dispensing punitive "Incentive Training" (IT), and keeping unremitting pressure on recruits to pay attention to details. He or she also teaches and reinforces academic knowledge to recruits. It is his or her duty to command the recruit platoon for initial drill evaluation, in which, in addition to the platoon receiving a score, the Drill Instructor is evaluated as well. These new drill instructors bear the burden of responsibility for breaking down a recruits sense of self and selfishness, so that the more experienced drill instructors can focus the recruits on selflessless, obedience, and fraternity.
After completing a few 13-week cycles, the drill instructor is moved up to the position of Experienced Drill Instructor (EDI), also called the "heavy" or "drill hat".
The next step in a drill instructor career is Senior Drill Instructor. Senior drill instructors hold a respected position which is distinguished by the wearing of a black sword belt instead of a green duty belt. A senior drill instructor is ultimately accounntable for the training of the platoon and for the efficiency of his or her assistant drill instructors. Although Senior Drill Instructors are senior NCOs or Staff NCOs, their position in the recruit training platoon is similar to that of a Commissioned Officer Platoon Commander in a line platoon. As such, they are further set apart from "junior" drill instructors.
After completing a number of cycles, drill instructors are often assigned to (Support Battalion) duties outside of recruit-training platoons. Such assignments are referred to as quotas, and include jobs as academic instructors, administrative duties at Recruit Receiving, martial arts instructors, water survival instructors, and warrior training instructors.
Some drill instructors choose to do a second tour of duty on the drill field. These volunteers still report to Drill Instructor School, but are referred to as course challengers, and are only required to complete a short refresher course. Multiple tour drill instructors, based on rank and experience, are usually assigned as Series Gunnery Sergeants, Company First Sergeants, or Battalion Sergeants Major.
For their successful service, Marine drill instructors are awarded the Drill Instructor Ribbon, although most former drill instructors are easily recognizable without it by their demeanor, performance, and leadership. This award is also given to other enlisted Marines and officers assigned to the recruit training environment, although these billets are recognized as being less directly involved in actually training recruits such as Series and Company Commander/ XO, Battalion Executive Officer, S-3, and Commander, and various levels of Sergeants-Major at each Depot. At OCS, the ribbon is also given to Officer Candidate Company First Sergeant, Company Gunnery Sergeant, and Platoon Commanders.
In the U.S. Army, soldiers of appropriate rank (usually sergeants although staff sergeants and sergeants first class are eligible as well) may volunteer or be centrally selected by the U.S. Army Human Resources Command to attend Drill Sergeant School. Those centrally selected are known as "DA Selects" meaning Department of the Army selected. Drill Sergeant School is ten weeks long and consists of the exact same activities as basic training; drill and ceremony, basic rifle marksmanship, obstacle/confidence courses, and field training exercises, training management, and leadership. Certain aspects of the Primary Leadership Course are included. Drill Sgt. students can expect to be held to the highest of standards while going through the school. The prospective drill sergeants are treated with a great deal of professionalism and not like new soldiers.
A U.S. Army drill sergeant's normal tour of duty (called being "on the trail") is two years with a possible one-year extension. Drill sergeants may be assigned to units that conduct Basic Combat Training (BCT),or One-Station Unit Training (OSUT). BCT lasts ten weeks so BCT drill sergeants train approximately 11 cycles during their two year tours. OSUT drill sergeants train soldiers for nine weeks of Basic Training and a number of weeks depending on the MOS the drill sergeant trains, so the number of cycles is less. The breaks between cycles are extremely short; a cycle will usually graduate on a Thursday or Friday with new recruits arriving the following Monday or Tuesday. Due to the recent changes in basic training, the army is trying to remove drill sergeants from AIT and replace them with regular noncommissioned officers. This would free up drill sergeants for basic.
Like Marine Drill Instructors, Army Drill Sergeants can attain the position of Senior Drill Sergeant, unto which ultimate responsibility for all training platoons is entrusted, as he is the first-line NCOIC Non Commissioned Officer In Charge of the company Drill Sergeant Cadre.
Successful completion of drill sergeant duty greatly enhances opportunities for promotion. Many of the U.S. Army's most senior noncommissioned officers were drill sergeants earlier in their careers.
Male Drill Sergeants wear the World War I Campaign Hat (nicknamed the "Brown Round") and female Drill Sergeants wear the Australian Bush Cap informally known as "Smokey the Bear" and "cowgirl" hats, respectively. It is one of the most important duty positions in the military and only the best non-commissioned officers are selected for such duty.
Air Force Military Training Instructors (MTIs) are non-commissioned officers ranging from Staff Sergeant (E-5) through Master Sergeant(E-7). Senior Airmen (E-4) may also apply, but have a limited window to do so. They are trained at the Military Training Instructor School at Lackland AFB in San Antonio Texas. Course length has changed several times during the last decade, but generally includes a period of assignment to a senior instructor to observe training (called "bird-dogging.") MTIs initially conduct basic training at Lackland Air Force Base as part of the 737th Training Group, but a select few conduct military training at the Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB and at the Air Force Academy during basic cadet training.
MTIs are commonly identified by the AF blue campaign hat. Their usual duty uniform is either the ABU or BDU. They wear, in the case of BDUs, highly polished boots. In the case of ABUs, either sand colored or sage green boots are worn. After completion of their MTI schooling, they are awarded the Air Education and Training Command Instructor "cookie" badge on the right side of the BDU blouse (the badge is also worn on the service dress uniform, but not on the ABU.) The MTI ribbon is also awarded but may be revoked if the MTI fails to successfully complete a tour of four years.
MTIs usually begin their tours as "team members" - junior partners of a two-person team. Experienced MTIs becomes "team chiefs" and often work a basic training flight alone when manning shortages occur (especially during the summer time.) MTIs refer to direct recruit training as being "on the street." At the conclusion of a tour, some MTIs are offered the chance to work in essential support training roles in the basic training course. This includes the combat training portions of the course, classroom academic instruction, and the "confidence" obstacle course.
MTIs who are rated in the top 10% of their ranks are awarded with a blue "rope" replacing the black leather hat strap on the campaign or bush hat. These master military training instructors often evaluate the trainees and MTI ranks during parades and retreat ceremonies. Special trainers of MTIs wear a black "rope" and MTIs certified and assigned to train officer candidates wear a bright silver "rope".
Unlike the Army, the Air Force uses a different specialist to continue military training during advanced individual or technical training. Military training leaders (MTLs) wear a blue aguillette on the left shoulder and act in the same capacity as Army drill sergeants during technical training. The aguillette in various colors is worn by students to indicate leadership roles - green for student flight leaders, yellow for student squadron leaders, and red for squadron student commanders. A white aguillette is worn by chapel guides. At some technical training centers a black aguillette is worn by members of student honor guards or drill teams.
In many military services, a Drill Instructors' creed has been created to succinctly state the beliefs that a Drill Instructor should follow.