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The Armys top nine advanced individual training platoon sergeants are contending for the title of 2012 AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year during a competition at Fort Eustis, Va., which began Monday and will continue through Friday.
Fort Benning and the Maneuver Center of Excellence is represented by Sgt. 1st Class Keven McDaniel, who is assigned as an AIT platoon sergeant with E Company, 194th Armor Training Brigade.
Currently there are more than 700 Army platoon sergeants serving at 24 AIT schools and training centers.
McDaniel, a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, entered the Army in March 1996 and attended basic combat training at Fort Benning. Upon graduation of advanced individual training he was assigned as a Bradley vehicle mechanic at Fort Sill, Okla.
He is a graduate of the Warrior Leader Course, Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course, Airborne School, Combat Lifesaver Course, Small Group Instructor Course, Basic Instructor Course, Equal Opportunity Leader Course, Combatives levels 2 and 3, Master Resilience Trainer Course and AIT Platoon Sergeant Course. During the competition, the AIT platoon sergeants undergo physical and mental challenges, which tests their knowledge of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, and their ability to teach these tasks to Soldiers in a training setting. Each competitor appears before a board of command sergeants major to evaluate their knowledge of leadership and platoon sergeant training tasks. One challenging aspect of the competition is that platoon sergeants are not told beforehand the tasks they will be required to perform.
AIT platoon sergeants play a critical role in the success of AIT training. After basic combat training, new Soldiers attend AIT, where they learn the details of their specific military occupational specialties. The AIT platoon sergeants mentor the new Soldiers, working with them after classes and on weekends to teach and reinforce technical lessons and WTBD.
These platoon sergeants play a critical role in the success of this training. They set the tone for the new Soldiers first duty assignments, a direct impact on the readiness of the entire U.S. Army.
The winner of this years competition will receive the Meritorious Service Medal and serve a one-year tour as an advisor to the Deputy Commanding General of IMT. In this role, he or she will provide ground-level experience and insight into the Armys initial entry training. The winner will be announced Friday during an awards ceremony at Fort Eustis.