What is a platoon drill?
Personally, I define a platoon drill as a mission critical task that must be accomplished to complete a platoon’s wartime mission.
Think of a platoon drill as something similar to a Platoon METL task.
A platoon drill is a critical task that must be performed by everyone in the platoon.
In other words, what are the things your platoon must do collectively that are critical to accomplishing your platoon’s wartime mission?
Several examples of a platoon drill include conduct convoy operations, conduct a defense, establish an area of operations, provide combat service support, etc.
On the other hand, tasks such as provide first aid, communicate on a radio, and repair a vehicle are not examples of a platoon drill.
Instead, those are individual tasks.
However, within each platoon drill there are large number of individual tasks that Soldiers must perform.
These tasks are one part of the platoon drill.
Here is some additional information about a platoon drill:
- They apply to platoon-level and smaller sized units
- They are natural, trained responses to a specific action or order
- They are standardized and require minimal leader orders
- They consist of a series of sequential steps
- They require the full understanding of each individual and leader
In the Infantry, a platoon drill is often referred to as a battle drill.
FM 25-101 defines a battle drill as “a collective action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate decision-making process.”
In other words, the battle drills are instinctive and natural, similar to a reflex.
It’s something that all Soldiers in a platoon can perform without consciously thinking about it.
Compare it to driving a car or riding a bicycle.
It needs to be practiced to achieve perfection, but the basic actions are natural.
Obviously, platoons will improve their efficiency with each platoon drill through repetition and practice.
Platoons must continuously train on their platoon drills to remain proficient.
These “drills” are definitely perishable skills.
As I stated earlier, the Infantry has its own set of drills, also known as battle drills.
According to FM 7-8, here is a list of the Infantry battle drills:
- Platoon Attack
- Squad Attack
- React to Contact
- Break Contact
- React to Ambush
- Knock Out Bunker
- Enter Building/Clear Room
- Enter/Clear Trench
In essence, these are the critical tasks that all Army Infantry platoons must complete to perform their wartime mission.
Next, all Army platoons have battle drills and/or platoon drills.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a Medical Services, Armor, Finance, Ordnance, Transportation or Field Artillery unit.
Your platoon has a series of platoon drills that your Soldiers must be able to perform, to accomplish its mission.
For instance, if your platoon is a Maintenance Platoon, several examples of your platoon drills might include:
- Establish an Area of Operations
- Defend against an Enemy Attack
- Relocate Area of Operations
- Conduct Convoy Operations
- Conduct Maintenance Operations
Once again, remember that the platoon drill is something that applies to everyone in your platoon.
For instance, repairing a vehicle would not be a platoon drill in a Maintenance Platoon, because it does not apply to everyone within the platoon.
As a small unit leader, your job is to identify your platoon’s mission critical tasks.
You must know which tasks are the most important ones to train on.
Also, you must ensure your Soldiers are trained on their individual tasks, so they can accomplish the platoon drill or collective task.
As a good starting point, you should refer to your company and/or Platoon ARTEP.
This document should provide a list of mission critical tasks required to complete your wartime mission.
From there, you can choose the collective tasks you want to train on. Although most platoons do not have a Platoon METL because they aren’t required too, it doesn’t mean you can’t create your own Platoon METL anyway.
These are the 4-5 mission critical tasks your platoon must be able to do to perform in wartime.
The ARTEP will give you great insight as to which tasks are the mission critical tasks.
Each one of these tasks will become a platoon drill.
Your next priority is to assess your unit’s current proficiency with each platoon drill.
Once that’s done, you need to establish goals and schedule training on these tasks in your Yearly Training Calendar and Training Schedule.
After each training event, conduct an After Action Review to evaluate the training.
Once that’s done, take this information and update your METL assessment to re-evaluate your unit’s proficiency.
You will be amazed at what your platoon can accomplish if you develop a solid game plan and stick with it.
In summary, a platoon drill is “a mission critical task that must be accomplished to complete a platoon’s wartime mission.”
As a Platoon Leader or Platoon Sergeant you have the responsibility to ensure that your platoon is trained, competent and ready to deploy at moment’s notice.
You must ensure that everyone in your platoon can do their individual and collective tasks.
What are your thoughts?
What do you think about platoon drills?
Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.
I look forward to hearing from you.
This information is not only good for platoon leaders, but for all soldiers.
At any given time, a soldier could be in charge of a platoon, and knowing this information can be helpful.
If you have any questions, please ask.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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2 thoughts on “Platoon Drill”
When I first entered the service I found drills and exercises an annoyance. "Why do we keep practicing—– whatever that task is." We practice and practiced. Why did we keep doing all this drill?
Then it was September 11 2001. When the call came to spin up the entire group we worked like a well oiled machine. We could do our jobs without worrying about how to do our jobs. We were proficient in multiple tasks and how to work together so the pivot from peace time tasking to war time tasking went quickly.
You have driven home the importance of the platoon drill in this article. It is so important that platoon Soldiers are able to perform things on an unconscious level as part of their job. When a stressful situation kicks in, being well trained and having run through drills multiple times can really be the difference between success and a very unfortunate situation.