Varied Experiences Help Define New Drill Team Commander

The U.S. Army Drill Team (USADT) has a new Commander.

1st Lt. Matthew D. Daghita is no stranger to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) however, he was prevDAGHITAiously enlisted and was assigned to The Old Guard from 2004-2007, serving in the Continental Color Guard (CCG).

Working as both a Infantryman (11b) and Forward Observer (13b) Daghita finished his initial contract after three and a half years.

Daghita entered the Virginia and later the Texas National Guard.

Finding himself missing active duty, Daghita decided to enter the Officer Corps in 2012.

After attending Officer Candidate School, Daghita went through Ranger School in 2013.

Describing Ranger School as “definitely interesting”. Daghita found Ranger school to be a lot about personal reflection.

“It’s more mental than anything,” said Daghita. “You do a lot of thinking about yourself, your life, what you are doing, who you are and where you want to go.”

Ranger School forces those attending to evaluate what is ultimately motivating them to become Rangers: ego versus a true desire to better oneself, said Daghita.

Daghita was assigned to Fort Bragg and deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014.

His prior experience being enlisted has helped make Daghita an empathetic leader.

“The biggest thing is knowing where the Soliders come from, knowing what they deal with everyday,” said Daghita. “I’ll never forget the stuff I went through as a private or junior enlisted, I’ll always keep that in the back of my mind.”

A challenge for Daghita making the transition from a non-commissioned officer to an officer was changing his mindset

JointServDrill-33            “The toughest part for a lot of us going from non-commissioned to commissioned is leaving that NCO mentality behind us a little bit,” said Daghita. “As a prior enlisted you have to step back and let the NCO’s do their job. Don’t be looking over their shoulder, don’t micromanage them. Trust your NCO’s, they are NCO’s for a reason. Let them do what they’ve got to do.”

As a member of CCG, Daghita participated in numerous high visibility missions including the Fiesta Bowl in San Antonio, Baltimore Ravens home games, and Washington Nationals Games.

“Its not something new for me,” said Daghita. “Yes, its been a while so I have get back to the feeling again, going in front of thousands and thousands of people. Its something I’ve done before. So I’m not very nervous about it.”

CCG has helped him be prepared for the high visibility missions that the USADT carry out.

“I know what to expect,” said Daghita. “I have to learn the Drill Team’s way of handling missions and stuff like that, but yes I think it definitely helps.”

Exuding confidence is essential to leading the USADT, Daghita said. He needs to be able to give commands.

During his first stint with The Old Guard he was part of the element, and now leading the element requires a change of pace said Daghita.

“It’s a good change,” said Daghita. “I don’t regret it one bit.”

The USADT has some major events to start the busy summer season, in June a trip JointServDrill-32up the east coast to perform for the National Hot Rod Association in NJ is followed up immediately by a stop in New York City for the U.S. Army Birthday celebration.

Daghita’s goals for the USADT are simple.

“Just continue doing great things,” said Daghita. “They are always out there in front of the public, they’re the face of the Army.”

Through his varied experiences, Daghita wants to continue to develop as a leader by not forgetting what led him to this prestigious assignment.

“I try to keep all the stuff I’ve learned in the past with me,” said Daghita. “Not try to forget it as I grow up higher in the ranks as an officer.”

 

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