EDGEWOOD, Md. - The military's changing times have caused a major increase in the amount of National Guard Soldiers. The National Guard is the largest component of the Army, and states are working harder than ever to ensure that their Soldiers are ready for their commitments to the Guard. The Maryland National Guard is a program that has evolved throughout the years and is ranked one of the top programs in the nation due to its adaption and evolution of its programs.
Recruits get briefed before starting the Army Physical Fitness Test by Maryland Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Kevin McCluskey, a drill sergeant with A Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area, Md., Oct. 17, 2015. The RSP trains recruits to be physically and mentally ready for Initial Entry Training. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aimee Fujikawa, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Master Sgt. Buddy Houston, Senior Operations noncommissioned officer of the Recruit Sustainment Program at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area, Maryland, has been with the RSP since last October. His mission is to help evolve the RSP into a more streamlined program to better the future warriors for their initial active duty training as well as provide their units with well-disciplined, qualified Soldiers.
Within the RSP, groups are broken down depending on their phase. Red Phase includes recruits who have not yet been to a drill weekend before. White Phase recruits have been to drill prior, and are more than 45 days out from their initial active duty training starting date. Blue Phase recruits are 45 or fewer days away from shipping to Initial Entry Training. Gold Phase Soldiers have already successfully completed IET and they are returning to prepare for transition into their units as official Maryland National Guard Soldiers. Each phase has a different schedule that they follow, and the biggest change has been helping the warriors who have not been to basic yet understand more of what to expect.
“We have integrated our Military Entrance Processing Station guidance counselors and our Gold Phase Soldiers to paint a clear picture of what to expect and dispel Basic Combat Training myths and overcome concerns,” Houston said. “As a result of this collaborative effort, we successfully shipped 90 percent of shippers with 97 percent accuracy.”
The Maryland's RSP has changed a great deal pertaining to their gold phase Soldiers in order to better prepare them for an easier transition into their units. Their equipment is ordered and issued on time through the RSP, they are all briefed on their education benefits and the medical detachment brings in a team of doctors to update their records. The gold phase Soldiers have a set standard before going out into their units, and the RSP ensures they are prepped and ready for whatever unit they are moving into.
An obstacle that they overcame was the physical readiness of all of the recruits who were entering into any step of Initial Entry Training. Some individuals were not meeting the Army's mandatory height, weight and physical fitness standards. The programs created were specific to the needs of each warrior and were able to build up from their individual level of fitness.
“We conduct a full Army Physical Fitness Test every month for all our recruits to measure their physical readiness,” Houston said. “Those at-risk recruits participate in a Warrior Fit program, led by Maj. John Fincatto, and his team of cross-fit certified NCOs, to teach these recruits how to improve their fitness.”
The biggest difference between the Maryland's RSP and other states' RSP programs is the phase that is called “Grey Phase.” This is a prior service orientation that helps prior service enlisted, National Guard Inter-State Transfers or branch transfers, to become more familiar with Maryland National Guard-specific information. Grey Phase Soldiers are issued their equipment prior to going to their assigned unit, and learn basic information to help their transition into their Maryland National Guard unit move smoother.
The changes implemented to Maryland's RSP are proving to produce better, more qualified Soldiers.
According to Maj. Latisha Lewis, RSP executive office, the calculations stand at 89.7 percent in-training seat management (the ability of the RSP to manage and properly ship recruits to training), a 0.8 percent in negative end strength (recruits who have been to drill and consistently have not gotten paid) and a 97.3 percent in shipper quality (the ability of the RSP to ship the recruits with minimal packet errors or deficiencies). Their ratings for these specific RSP metrics excel the average standards and earned them the rank of 36th out of 54 within the National Guard Bureau standings.
The matrix has improved from the following year, specifically, with improved advanced individual training graduation rates for the Maryland National Guard Soldiers. The Maryland RSP ship rate is 90 percent compared to the national standard of 85 percent. The Maryland RSP believes they still have work to do to improve. The great efforts of the staff have impacted the RSP, and their evolution of positive change has just begun.
By U.S. Army Spc. Brianna Kearney
Provided through DVIDS
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