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The Top 5 Ways to Deal with Drill Sergeants

Drill sergeants will undoubtedly treat you like you have never been treated before. They clearly don’t want to be your friend, they don’t want to make you feel warm and fuzzy and they certainly don’t want you to feel like you’re at home.  There are however, ways to deal with drill sergeants that won’t drive you crazy. If you’re about to leave for boot camp, use the 5 tips below to deal with your drill sergeant more effectively.

The top 5 ways to deal with drill sergeants:

5) Don’t try to be a leader or a follower
Drill sergeants are always looking for recruits who try to act like leaders. You might think the military wants leaders, but they don’t. They want to train leaders. In other words, they want to make you a leader, not find recruits that are already leaders. So why does the military prefer it this way? The military has a specific and organized way of doing just about everything and leaders try to change the routine.  Don’t boss around other recruits or suggest an improved way of doing a task which your drill sergeant didn’t approve. Sometimes drill sergeants have the recruits do a task that is deliberately inefficient, just to find out who the leaders are.

Also, becoming a follower will not work to your advantage. Do not follow what a recruit says just because s/he makes sense. Always follow what your drill sergeant says. If you show signs of being weak, your drill sergeant will capitalize on that and make you uncomfortable whenever a chance arises.

4) Stay under the radar
Too many recruits get to basic training and treat the process as if it is high school. The drill sergeants should not be thought of like teachers. In high school, many students try to impress the teachers and get on their good side. In basic training, the best thing for you to do is go without being noticed.  If you are treated by your drill sergeants as a “go-to man” you are asking for trouble.  By staying under the radar, you will avoid being a pushover and avoid special attention from drill sergeants.

3) Forget your manners
In the civilian world, it’s polite to say “thank you” and “sorry”.  In the military, it’s better to leave your manners at home.  Drill sergeants do not like manners or friends; they are trying to make a soldier out of you.  Soldiers are tough and fearless; they aren’t supposed to exclaim “thank you drill sergeant” or “sorry drill sergeant”.

2) Respond with confidence
When a drill sergeant asks you a question, be sure to respond with confidence. Responding with a hearty “yes drill sergeant” will show your drill sergeant you are paying attention and you are motivated. Exclaim your response loudly, with minimum words and with authority. Any other type of response will show weakness.

1) Remember the mental game
Remember, drill sergeants don’t personally hate you.  They have a very short time to turn you from civilian to soldier. The process needs to jar you mentally.  If your drill sergeant calls you dumb, ugly, and stupid, etc., don’t think twice about the comment. They are testing you to see if you are fit to be a soldier. Drill sergeants are always testing you, even when you think they are not.  In my books, the Ultimate Basic Training Series (, I tell the readers repeatedly to remember basic training is a mental game. The recruits who fail overwhelmingly do so because they can’t handle the mental stress, not the physical stress.

SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Series