The Quick DrillMaster Interview with Joseph Suvero

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Joseph SuveroIn March 2013, Joseph Suvero, pictured at right, a Facebook friend of mine, and I were talking about the upcoming competitions for Army JROTC in Florida, specifically the district (which I judged) and state competitions.

Joseph (“JS” below) turned the tables and me asked some great questions that I wanted to share with you here.

JS: Are you going to be judging [FL] states?

DM: No, JROTC instructors will be the judges. I don’t know why Brigade doesn’t want a trained visual judge. Granted, some of the judges across America have experience, but not the specific training to be a judge. The judges go through maybe a quick briefing of how to use the sheet that they were just handed or a short time of watching videos and having the score sheets explained to them, but that’s not training to be a judge, that’s training on how to use the local judging “system.” My business is to educate and train Drillers, instructors and judges.

JS: Some JROTC instructors say they don’t concentrate on drill teams, even though they were Drill or Training Instructors.

DM: JROTC’s goal is not to produce drill teams but good American citizens. Drill teams are second or even third- hopefully not lower than that. However, drill team is a good gang, a great way to give high school students something to do with goals, etc. It builds leadership like the other aspects of JROTC. Drill team and colors are both really good things for the cadets, unit, school and local community.

Many drill instructors believe that they are the go-to people for everything drill. Not so all the time. That was never their main job. Drill was only part of it. Now many, if not all, DIs/TIs have great knowledge of how to teach regulation drill and that’s what they are supposed to do.

When it comes to judging, especially exhibition drill, those are 2 VERY different stories (teaching and judging). Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you can teach it and just because you can teach something doesn’t mean you can judge it. Some may think I’m attacking them by saying that and that is not the case at all. I am stating the designed limitations of the system.

The military system does not train anyone on how to judge a visual presentation because that’s not anyone’s job in the military. That’s where I step in with the training that I offer which is a modification to military standards of the years of training and experience that I received judging marching bands, drum and bugle corps, winter guards and military honor guards and drill teams.

JS: Very true. How long did it take you to get the DrillMaster title?

I was given it by my colleagues on the Davis-Monthan Base Honor Guard back in the early 90s. I only really started to pursue this as a career around 2006. I’ve been studying and writing books since then and used the title as a screen name and then, in 2009, started developing the logo. In 2011 I started the website. The reason the Driller image is in the World Drill Association and the DrillMaster logos is because I wanted to communicate that they are both linked. It’s all very new- relatively speaking. Along with all of the resources on my website at everyone’s disposal, I offer Certified Drillmaster and Certified WDA Adjudicator courses.

JS: How can I get certified?

DM: Click here to read more about it.

JS: If you had to judge only one event what would it be?

DM: That’s a TOUGH question! I used to think XD (Exhibition Drill) was the bestest phase at a drill meet. But as I consider the question, there are so many problems that I have seen at every drill meet that I’ve judged here in Florida, that I’d like to work with RD and colors as well. Especially colors, there are huge problems there.

JS: What is the most common problem you have seen? I could tell you for days the problems I saw at my county drill meet!

DM: Wow, you sure pick the tough questions!

DM: Step size, step height. Tempo- teams almost ALWAYS speed up on Mark Time and half Step. Stomping feet on both of those as well. Bad equipment manipulation (colors). Slamming equipment (rifles and flagstaffs) in every regulation event is another huge problem. Posture tends to be an issue. Commanders who think they need to have gravel in their voice when calling commands or they leave the first letter off of each word OR they are completely monotone when calling. Drives me nuts!

I guess it all boils down to one basic problem: cadets are not reading the manual. They are making things up as they go. I like to explain it this way: this year’s seniors were taught by last year’s seniors who were taught be the previous year’s seniors and on and on. And no one along the line picked up a manual to check the facts. This is a generality, but it fits a great majority of JROTC programs, unfortunately.

Thanks for asking the questions and allowing me to post this, Joseph!

Told you it was quick!

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