TRADOC leaders visit, learn how Recruit Sustainment Program prepares Va. Guard recruits for basic training

Recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program practice bounding overwatch Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. The RSP introduces new National Guard recruits to the basics of the U.S. Army before they attend Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. Training includes physical training, road marches and classes that familiarize the recruits with the U.S. Army’s military rank structure, proper wear of military uniforms and military customs. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program practice bounding overwatch Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. The RSP introduces new National Guard recruits to the basics of the U.S. Army before they attend Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. Training includes physical training, road marches and classes that familiarize the recruits with the U.S. Army’s military rank structure, proper wear of military uniforms and military customs. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va. — Senior leaders from the Center for Initial Military Training at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command toured the Virginia Army National Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program Site #9 Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va., to learn about how the Virginia Guard prepares new recruits to be physically and mentally ready to attend basic training.

Maj. Shawn Vergott, operations officer for the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion (second from left), briefs Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia (third from left), Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commanding general of the Center for Initial Military Training (right), and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis J. Woods, command sergeant major of the Center for Initial Military Training (left), on the Virginia National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Shawn Vergott, operations officer for the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion (second from left), briefs Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia (third from left), Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commanding general of the Center for Initial Military Training (right), and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis J. Woods, command sergeant major of the Center for Initial Military Training (left), on the Virginia National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commanding general of the Center for Initial Military Training, and Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis J. Woods, command sergeant major of the Center for Initial Military Training, met with Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor, to observe training and talk with leaders from the Recruiting and Retention Battalion about the RSP.

Lt. Col. Everton E. Nevers, commander of the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, led the briefing and tour, where the guests saw 54 recent Virginia Army National Guard recruits conduct various forms of training.

“We were honored to have Maj. Gen. Funkhouser and his staff visit RSP 9 this weekend,” Nevers said. “His visit gave us the opportunity to showcase our program and our successes, and to show that the Recruit Sustainment Program is absolutely integral to our efforts to prepare our newest Soldiers, both mentally and physically, for basic training.”

The goal of the RSP is to introduce new National Guard recruits to the basics of the U.S. Army before they attend Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. Training includes physical training, road marches and classes that familiarize the recruits with the U.S. Army’s military rank structure, proper wear of military uniforms and military customs.

“We all know that it is a culture shock going from civilian life to military life, and this program helps to ease that transition,” Nevers explained. “The RSP is the new Soldier’s first experience with the Army Guard and the key to easing their adjustment from civilian to military life.”

“Visiting here today I see that this really is a model program for our young men and women to be exposed to this,” Funkhouser said. “The men and women joining today like to know what they’re striving for and by doing these things and creating expectations, they know what they’re getting in to, they’re more committed, and they are more likely to succeed as they go forward and hopefully become the future leaders in our Army.”

Recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program prepare to conduct Humvee rollover training Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer is designed to train Soldiers on the effects of rollover and conduct drills that will provide the skill and ability to react properly during and/or emergency egress situations. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program prepare to conduct Humvee rollover training Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach. HMMWV Egress Assistance Trainer is designed to train Soldiers on the effects of rollover and conduct drills that will provide the skill and ability to react properly during and/or emergency egress situations. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

One of the major intents of the recruit sustainment program is to reduce training pipeline losses by introducing newly enlisted Soldiers to the military environment. Before the Virginia Army Guard established an RSP, Soldiers would enlist in the National Guard and report to their units to drill before shipping to basic training. They were often unprepared and untrained.

Today recruits are arriving at basic training better prepared and then return to their unit trained and ready to contribute to the unit mission.

“Our program helps our newest military members mentally and physically prepare for Basic and it has allowed us to decrease training losses by about 30%,” Nevers said. ”We now have a Basic Combat Training graduation rate that exceeds 95%.”

The Virginia National Guard currently has 653 Soldiers in the RSP and 238 currently attending initial entry training. In fiscal year 2015, they shipped 807 recruits to basic training, which is 93.9% of their needs.

The Virginia National Guard has eight RSP locations across the state and one Direct Ship Operations Center. The RSPs are located in Gate City, Lynchburg, Christiansburg, Staunton, Leesburg, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia Beach and Petersburg.

There are six phases of training for RSP recruits- purple, red, white, blue, green and gold.

The Purple Phase combines the Red and Blue phases and is for recruits who have only one RSP drill weekend prior to basic training. The goal is to have the recruits mentally, physically and administratively prepared for basic training.

Recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program learn about basic rifle marksmanship in a video simulator Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. The RSP introduces new National Guard recruits to the basics of the U.S. Army before they attend Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. Training includes physical training, road marches and classes that familiarize the recruits with the U.S. Army’s military rank structure, proper wear of military uniforms and military customs. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program learn about basic rifle marksmanship in a video simulator Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. The RSP introduces new National Guard recruits to the basics of the U.S. Army before they attend Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. Training includes physical training, road marches and classes that familiarize the recruits with the U.S. Army’s military rank structure, proper wear of military uniforms and military customs. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

The Red Phase is the first drill at RSP. It teaches the basics of being a Soldier and includes mandatory briefings on topics including equal opportunity, the Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program, resiliency and suicide prevention.

The White Phase starts at the completion of the Red Phase and lasts until one drill prior to shipping to basic training. It mimics the basic training environment and covers basic Army knowledge, Army values, military history, physical fitness and ranks structure.

The Blue Phase is conducted immediately prior to shipping. RSP cadre ensures the recruit is mentally prepared, physically fit and administratively ready for basic training.

The Green Phase is designed for Soldiers who have completed basic training and will undergo AIT the following summer. It begins when the Soldier returns from basic training and includes instruction in leadership and physical fitness designed to sustain the Soldiers skills learned at basic training. The goal of the green phase is to sustain their basic training skills and prepare them for AIT.

The Gold Phase is the final phase and begins after a Soldier completes AIT. It ends when the Soldier is qualified in their military occupational specialty and joins their unit of assignment.

“We have a great RSP, with a great staff, who truly care about the Soldiers accessed into the Virginia Guard,” Nevers said. “They invest a lot of time and effort in these kids because we also want those Soldiers to stay in the organization for the long term.”


Photos: TRADOC leaders tour Recruit Sustainment Program at Camp Pendleton

Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commanding general of the Center for Initial Military Training, addresses Virginia National Guard Soldiers with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, commanding general of the Center for Initial Military Training, addresses Virginia National Guard Soldiers with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion Oct. 17, 2015, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)