Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier poses with his Army Emergency Relief pledge (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)


Tavernier reflects on his Jackson tour as PCSM

By Robert Timmons, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Post Command Sgt. Maj. Philson Tavernier will be relinquishing responsibility for the Army Training Center and Fort Jackson to Command Sgt. Maj. Erick Ochs in a ceremony on Victory Field, March 10. He sat down with Leader staff to discuss his time on post.

Q. How will you characterize your time on Fort Jackson?

A. “In a short round burst, I would say that I am certain that Fort Jackson has been one of my most rewarding and prestigious assignments. It truly has been an honor to serve as the 26th post command sergeant major. Serving as a sergeant major here you have the opportunity to be an ambassador – an ambassador not just for our profession, but for our nation every single day. There are thousands of families that come in and out of Fort Jackson each month. And this is the first interaction with what a Soldier is. So, it gives me a lot of pride in what I do, and it also holds me accountable.”

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Q. Did you think when you first came to Fort Jackson it would affect you as much as it did?

A. “Actually, no, I didn’t. When I first was selected to serve at Fort Jackson, I just perceived it as another assignment. It wasn’t until I arrived here that I realized the impact that we have at Fort Jackson. Having the opportunity to impose your will, as a leader, to instill the Army Values and good order and discipline into our younger Soldiers; it is something we can’t take lightly. But more importantly, you get to see the fruits of your labor. We receive these trainees on Day One and 10 weeks later you get to see an end product. That is what you produced as a drill sergeant or a leader on this installation.”

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Q. Who, or what, made your time at Fort Jackson successful?

A. “There’s several people that come to mind. But there is one cohort of leaders that I just can’t forget, who are truly the center of gravity here at Fort Jackson – drill sergeants. Without the efforts of drill sergeants, our job here at Fort Jackson would fail. We have some of the most exceptional noncommissioned officers I’ve had the honor of serving with. These drill sergeants come to work every single day, and they sacrifice every single day to create mirror versions of themselves. Why? Because they care. They care about our profession. They care about the future of our Army. Hands down, our drill sergeants are the most important ingredient in what we do here at Fort Jackson.”

Q. What is the fondest memory from Fort Jackson that you will take with you?

A. “That’s an easy one. My fondest memory of Fort Jackson is every single Thursday where I get to attend graduation. So here on Jackson, every Thursday we conduct graduation, and it gives you an opportunity to see the combination of training before the Soldiers become a U.S. Army Soldier, but not just to witness the graduation, but to interact and see the interaction between Families and their Soldiers. To see the faces of the Families in the bleachers who have not seen their loved ones for 10 weeks; to see the excitement on their faces as they reunite – that truly reminds me of why we serve. This is why we make all the sacrifices so our American society can enjoy the freedoms, liberties and have the opportunity to experience moments like Basic Combat Training graduation.”

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Q. If you were able to give a word of advice to each Soldier as they graduate, what would that advice be?

A. “As the Soldiers transition out of here, my advice to them would be to remember that every Soldier is a shooter, a sensor and an ambassador. You raised your right hand to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and you have to be willing to do so. Additionally, you are a sensor, you have to have the highest awareness and be mindful of your surroundings at all times. You are an ambassador. Everything you do and everything you say reflects who we are as a profession. So, you have to be mindful of how you conduct yourself and understand the message you are sending. Oftentimes, people think it's what they say that has been recorded, but most people are watching your action. They’re looking at what you do, which is what’s most important.”

Q. What would you say to Fort Jackson at large about your time here?

A. “This has been my most rewarding assignment. I’ve learned a lot from everyone here. I would encourage everyone to be open minded and learn to be a lifelong learner. You can learn something from the most junior trainee to the most senior general officer. You have that opportunity here at Fort Jackson. Enjoy your time while you are here, because the impact that you have on our nation is unmatched. Unfortunately, you will not know it until years down the line. When one of these Soldiers reaches out to you and tells you, ‘Sir, sergeant major,’ or whatever the case may be ‘thank you for everything you did for me.”

Q. There have been a lot of changes on Fort Jackson while you have been here. What is the one that sticks out the most to you?

A. “One of the biggest changes that really stands out to me is our approach to Basic Combat Training. We have changed the curriculum and the Drill Sergeant Academy to ensure that we are not training drill sergeants to be drill sergeants, but we train them to be coaches, teachers and mentors. Unfortunately, a lot of the NCOs that come to the Drill Sergeant Academy have a mindset based on their experiences during training. That is yelling at the Soldiers or trainees, cursing at them in very degrading manners. We’ve changed that approach. Our goal is to instill trust with the trainees, trainees have trust in us as cadre, and these trainees have trust in themselves as professionals.”

Q. Is there anything you’d like to add?

A. “My wife and I are extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve at Fort Jackson. The relationships we’ve established on and off the installation, or great neighbors, or Department of the Army Civilians, and all the neighbors across Fort Jackson have been nothing but welcoming and extremely loyal to myself and my wife. Thus far this has been one of our best assignments and we’re definitely going to miss this place.”