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Become a drill Sgt. or college instructor with Reserve job

104th Division (Leader Training), headquartered at JBLM offers soldiers a change of direction

USAR Staff Sgt. Jennifer Samargo, a drill sergeant with the 104th Training Division at JBLM assigned to Task Force Wolf, corrects the position of a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadet attending CST at Fort Knox. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Scott Griffin

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One thing available to active duty soldiers ready for a change of scenery is to find a new life in the reserve forces, either full time, or in a part time roll. And for those looking to teach adults, they might find the 104th Division (Leader Training), headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (with units and jobs spread across the country), the right unit for their future.

The 104th Division (LT) provides leader training support to United States Army Cadet Command (USACC), United States Army Military Academy (USMA), and as adjunct faculty

to select Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Universities across the nation to build future leaders for the Army. The unit also supplies drill sergeants to augment the active force.

"There are jobs available right now in the 104th," said Command Sergeant Major Neil Pierce.  "You can work full time as an AGR, or find a part time slot here or somewhere close to home or a place you may find a civilian job."

Brig. Gen. Rodney J. Fischer, commander of the 104th, said during a recent trip to JBLM (Fischer's civilian job is at Fort Carson, Colorado), "The 104th is a great place for soldiers who want to mentor the next generation of soldiers. And we are actively looking for people to come to work here."

It's all about teaching and molding. Drill sergeants have direct access to new recruits, while those at colleges can prepare future officers. Not a drill sergeant now? No problem - the 104th will send soldiers E-4 and up to Fort Jackson for a 54-day school.

Pierce said the unit appeals to those that enjoy the teaching process.

This summer, for example, seven reserve drill sergeants from 2nd Brigade were sent to West Point to augment the Brigade Tactical Department's tactical noncommissioned officers to help with the cadet cadre during Cadet Basic Training.

"The drill sergeants' primary focus was to instill discipline in the cadet cadre," said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Vargas, 4th Regiment Company E tactical NCO. "They assisted the TAC NCOs by bringing a second set of eyes and focusing on the attention to detail. The expectation was for them to assist in meeting the priorities set by the commandant - standards and discipline, inspections, drill and ceremony and customs and courtesies."

Vargas said they used the drill sergeants' expertise during Physical Readiness Training every morning, marching units and skill level one tasks that were taught using the soldier's manual for common tasks.

"During the training of the cadre, (the drill sergeants) presence was crucial, and their expertise was utilized daily," Vargas said. "They reinforced the importance of having attention to detail and being an expert in your field. Once the new cadets arrived, we shifted them into more of a mentorship role and allowed them to provide feedback to the cadre while the cadre focused on teaching and training new cadets."

Many of the 104th soldiers come from the active Army. Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Ousley and Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Niemiec, have served at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for BCT (basic training). They have also served Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for ROTC cadets from colleges throughout the country and prepared other drill sergeant reservists who were scheduled to attend the Drill Sergeants Academy.

"I would train the drill sergeant candidates preparing for (the DSA) with training such as the top three modules of the position of attention, rest position while at the halt and the hand salute, and PRT, etc.," Ousley, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, said.

West Point this summer was a different experience. As Niemiec explained, the time spent training the cadet cadre and giving them pointers throughout CBT differs greatly from the experience of training new soldiers in a BCT environment.

"It is definitely night and day," Niemiec said. "We know these cadets will be future officers and we have to treat them with more respect and dignity - and I know this sounds bad - than we typically show a new private. But with a new private, you're trying to break them down to rebuild them, and that's what we were trying to get the cadet cadre to do with the new cadets. And, some of them were like us, they were pretty sharp."

However, as Ousley said he enjoys when trainees learn what he is teaching and it gives him a "good feeling," Niemiec enjoys the slow simmer of watching the molding of a civilian coming off the street to a cadet/soldier with a four-to-10 week period in the CBT and BCT environments.

"I like watching the slow progression (from) they don't know what is going on, then they learn a little bit and it keeps growing until they are pretty much on autopilot," Niemiec said. "I like that they go from knowing nothing and then by the end of four weeks here and 10 weeks at Basic Combat Training, in the BCT blue phase, they are on autopilot - and we're just there to make sure what they keep on doing is right."

Every enlisted soldier in the military can probably close their eyes and picture their drill sergeant. Those in the 104th often want to clarify that there are misnomers in what people may think about drill sergeants and what the reality is to them.

"(The) biggest misnomer is that drill sergeants know everything," Ousley said. "Drill sergeants are learning new training and skills every day as well."

Niemiec was a little more direct, but with a purpose, because it is a standard thought that all drill sergeants are, "all mean."

"I'm a teddy bear at heart, we all are," Niemiec said. "We like to joke around and have a good time like everybody else, but business is business. I wear my sunglasses all the time so they can't see my eyes or where I'm looking - a little mystery behind the glasses."

Teaching on a faculty staff at a university is similar - it's about preparing college kids to one day lead Army units. It also provides an opportunity to work closer to a home town, or maybe move to a part of the country always on a bucket list.

"We can make that happen," Pierce said.

To explore your career at the 104th contact Staff Sgt. Nicole Vazquez, Army Reserve Career Counselor at 253-477-3241 (o), 404-834-2257 (c), or

DVIDS contributed to this report.

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