Guam – The Guam Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion received good news recently as it ranked at the top for its Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP).
The RSP is the formal process for indoctrinating and preparing Army National Guard (ARNG) Soldiers for the successful completion of their Initial Entry Training (IET). Future Soldiers initially contract at the Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPSs) and remain in the program until they depart for basic combat training (BCT).
The report measures each of the 54 states and territories’ ability to properly manage RSP based on a matrix that includes IET Ship Rate, At-risk for Drill Attendance, Negative End Strength, Quality Control Rate, and Training Pipeline Success.
According to Lt. Col. Esther Aguigui, Commander of the Guam Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, “the intent of the RSP is to reduce training pipeline losses by introducing the newly enlisted ARNG Soldiers to the military environment, and to ease their adjustment to BCT and advance individual training (AIT). Guam has never held a #1 position until now.”
The RSP incorporates academic, physical readiness, and common-task training. Each Soldier is screened for administrative problems as well as height, weight, and physical fitness. New Soldiers progress through various phases of Soldier Empowerment and Readiness training while attending the RSP course:
Red Phase: The Soldier’s first RSP drill weekend begins with this phase. Soldiers are in-processed, integrated, and provided instruction on Army values, the chain of command, the rank structure, saluting, military time, the phonetic alphabet, and more. They receive their Battle Book and Challenge Coin during this drill. Red Phase is usually conducted monthly to review, reinforce, and expand training.
White Phase: This phase varies in length but covers the period between the first and final drill weekends before the Soldier begins the pre-ship (Blue) phase of indoctrination. Among the many topics covered are three major ones: the training community, military history and background, and physical readiness. This phase should be supplemented by tailored state and unit-level instruction.
“Physical readiness is the toughest challenge for most of the Soldiers. We teach the proper performance of the sit-up, push up and running,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gonzalo Fernandez, Senior RSP Noncommissioned Officer (NCO). “The Soldiers support each other and are motivated. By the time they ship out, they are ready to succeed.”
Blue Phase: This phase incorporates the final two 4-hour drills (the last day) before shipment. Provided is an overview and review of what each Soldier should expect at Reception Battalion and BCT.
Green Phase: This phase is for Soldiers who enlisted in the Split Training Option (STO) program and have completed Phase 1 thereof (BCT). Green Phase Soldiers may serve as student leaders while they receive additional physical readiness, leadership, and refresher BCT in preparation for STO Phase 2 (AIT) with additional emphasis on BCT skills sustainment.
Gold Phase, Battle Handoff: The Soldier’s first drill after successful completion of IET is his or her final weekend at the RSP. In this phase, Soldiers learn what to expect at their unit of assignment, as well as what will be expected of them. Most important, they experience the Battle Handoff from the RSP to the new unit/sponsor through a formal rite-of-passage ceremony attended by other RSP Soldiers and the gaining-unit leadership.
“We also ensure the Soldiers’ family is involved and well informed about responsibilities as well as benefits of being a Soldier or family member in the Guam Guard,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Ishmael, the unit’s Senior Enlisted Member. “We hold a Family Readiness Event every quarter, invite the families and hold briefings on the various family programs, Tricare, ESGR, Finance and Education and other resources available while their Soldier is away at training. It’s a win-win situation for all,” continued Ishmael.
Since the RSP has been instituted, the ARNG has experience a sustained at-training improvement and has the lowest loss rate of the three Army components (active, Guard and Reserve).
“It also increases our retention rates and helps with recruiting efforts to meet our end-strength objectives,” said Aguigui. “I have the members of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion to thank. Their continued hard work and dedication to the mission is the direct result of our being number one!”