By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson Leader
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — The first few weeks of Basic Combat Training can be disorienting for new Soldiers. If changes in environment and responsibilities weren’t confusing enough, there’s also a battery of new skills and disciplines to be learned in a short amount of time.
Drill sergeants often find themselves answering the same questions throughout the day, said Lt. Col. Patrick Crosby, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment. Earlier this year his staff began looking for ways to condense the fundamentals of Basic Combat Training into a portable brochure.
Titled, “The Soldier Book,” the short reference guide highlights some of the most important elements of Soldier training. There are pages devoted to the M16A2 rifle, marksmanship advice and sections that allow Soldiers to keep track of their progress.
“It makes the Soldiers accountable to themselves,” Crosby said. “It’s really a training aid/assistance book that every Soldier should have.”
The present draft is 28 pages, with a few blank pages reserved in the back for notes. More important, Crosby said, there’s also space on the book for Soldiers to keep track of their company, platoon and weapon serial number, as well as contact information for Fort Jackson’s various units.
It isn’t intended to compete with existing training books, Crosby said. Instead, it’s a collection of quick reference tips about activities all Soldiers are expected to master.
“We don’t want this to be a redundant book,” Crosby said. “It’s meant to complement the other (lesson) books.”
Crosby said there’s a gap between the information offered in “The Soldier’s Blue Book” given to Initial Entry Training Soldiers, and the books new Soldiers are studying when participating on firing ranges.
“The Soldier Book” puts detailed information about their weapon at their fingertips, as well as giving them a glossary of terms, reference guides for proper breathing and body position when shooting, and charts to keep track of their progress on firing ranges.
“When they’re taking a break (Soldiers) can read it on their own, instead of always having the drill sergeant refresh them,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Prud, a drill sergeant with the 2-13th. “It’s also got the round counts in there to help Soldiers keep track of how many rounds they’ve shot.”
Pvt. Tyler Kenson said he came to Fort Jackson with no weapons experience.
“I’ve never shot a gun before,” said Kenson, of Georgia, who is now taking part in Basic Combat Training with the 2-13th. “After I relaxed and went over my fundamentals, which the book told me, my grouping improved. The book has been a help.”
“What most helped me was the shot group analysis. It also teaches you how to breathe and control,” said Pvt. D’Andre Reed, of Georgia, who is also among the first new Soldiers to use “The Soldier Book.”
The book’s concept was born following an exchange program with Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where Crosby and his staff saw Airmen issued books that outlined the basic training experience. Marksmanship was the first area to be discussed in the book, Crosby said, “and from there it’s grown.”
“It includes marching and the proper way to wear a uniform, and drill sergeants are adding to it right now,” Crosby said. “Most of the material comes from different sources that new Soldiers don’t have access to.”
Crosby said the final product is expected to go out for recommendation in coming months.