By BROCK VERGAKIS
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - Forget the image of the yelling, screaming and order-barking drill sergeants of the past.
As the Army focuses more on developing the critical thinking skills of its soldiers and less on rote memorization and one-size-fits-all training, some of their top drill sergeants say bellowing is a last resort.
Drill sergeants from around the country gathered at Fort Eustis in Virginia recently to compete to become the Army's Drill Sergeant of the Year. They were evaluated on their leadership and critical thinking skills more than their ability to strike fear into young recruits.
The top drill instructors say to excel they must find ways to relate to soldiers with a variety of backgrounds.
There are about 2,400 drill sergeants in the active duty ranks and about 3,000 in the Army Reserves.