Guam Guard tops nation in recruit success rate

Members of the Guam Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Steve Warren and Command Sgt. Maj. Tybolt Rosario, received top marks in recruit accession in 2021. Also not Pictured: Staff Sgt. Pete Alvarez and Staff Sgt. Victoria Rolon of the Recruit Sustainment Program. (GUNG photo)

Passing basic combat training and advanced individual training in the Army is no small task.

The physical and mental demands, coupled with months of separation from family, make “boot camp” a challenging rite of passage for many young recruits.

But for new recruits from the U.S. Territory of Guam, the rite of passage doesn’t seem to be too much of a challenge to handle.

In the 2021 Strength Maintenance Report published by National Guard Bureau, Guam Army National Guard recruits achieved a 94.51% enlisted BCT training success rate, and a 98.85% AIT enlisted training success rate. These passing rates, calculated as a ratio of accessions to losses during the recruiting pipeline, are the highest among the 54 states and territories of the National Guard.

Lt. Col. Steve Warren, commander of the Guam Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, oversees the Recruitment Sustainment Program responsible for preparing recruits. He credits the family-centric culture of Guam, the hard work of his RSP staff, and Guam’s long tradition of service to our nation, in the interview below.

Q: What is the Recruitment Sustainment Program, and how does it help prepare recruits for Basic Combat Training?

“The GUARNG Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) ensures all new Warriors have administratively correct packets and are physically fit prior to leaving to BCT/AIT. RSP cadre dedicate their time to each Soldier to ensure they are physically and mentally prepared to leave the island and take on the rigors of training.

Recruits in the Guam Army National Guard’s Recruitment Sustainment Program incorporate land navigation during a hike in the mountains of southern Guam on Aug. 8, 2021. As of December 2021, Guam’s RSP leads the nation in Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training success rates. (courtesy Guam National Guard)

We continuously remind the Warriors of their obligation and the oath they each made to protect our island and our nation and to have a sense of pride in that obligation.”

Q: What is unique about Guam’s program that contributes to its success?

“Pride and culture. Our family-oriented island, along with the desire to serve our Nation, carry us a long way. We were raised to respect one another from an early age, and we like to show this respect by contributing. Whether it’s typhoon recovery or a village party, we contribute whatever resources we have – even if it’s just our presence, hard work, and motivation to the team.

We make sure our recruits know this Guard will always look out for them and push them to excel. We also like to keep an open line of communication with the Warriors. We believe that the presence of a familiar face present during the program helps our recruiters connect.”

Q: What are some examples of what a recruit will experience in RSP?

“We follow all the required training modules, but it’s the passion of the staff that makes the biggest difference. They take the modules and turn them into fun and interactive lessons. For example, we take recruits on hikes and incorporate land navigation. We train on virtual simulators, then give them hands-on experiences with weapons systems.

The RSP Warriors usually find it more interesting, meaningful, and something they can actually relate to. At the end of a Warrior’s RSP journey, they will take away more than just military training. They will have a better understanding of teamwork and know how to be resilient.

They will also understand that long after this program, they will continue to strive in life to be and do better for themselves, the Guam Guard, our island and nation.”

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

“Our success rate is a testament to the RSP cadre’s hard work and commitment to the Warriors, in and outside of drill weekend. Special thanks to Staff Sgt. Pete Alvarez, Staff Sgt. June Owen, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Penaflor, and Staff Sgt. Victoria Rolon for their hard work. Each of these noncommissioned officers covered down with running RSP last year, while still being responsible for a recruiting mission.

Not only is the National Guard a military component with military benefits, it will allow you to serve your island and your country right at home. It is an outlet that will allow you to pursue a career that you enjoy doing daily. To take advantage of the opportunities that will change you and your family’s life for the better, and be part of the elite team who raises their right hand to serve and give back, contact your Guam Army National Guard recruiter today.”