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Recruit Training Command: The Center of Navy Learning

By Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans
Commander, Naval Service Training Command

As I continue to emphasize how I serve at the best first Flag duty in our Navy, I am often asked, “What makes Naval accessions training so rewarding?”

I can think of no better answer than to discuss our Navy’s only boot camp. One of the best parts about being headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes is being close to Recruit Training Command.

Every year, roughly 38,000 young men and women, from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds, graduate from boot camp. They all raise their hands and pledge to serve our great nation with honor, courage and commitment. Joining together at RTC, they achieve high standards of training that prepare them for service. As of last week, recruits began experiencing a new level of equality and unity as the first female recruits received their ‘Dixie cup’ covers, part of the Navy’s efforts for uniformity in service members’ uniform.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (April 4, 2016) Engineman 2nd Class Shanice Floyd, a recruit division commander, ensures the proper fit of Seaman Recruit Megan Marte's white enlisted hat, or "Dixie cup," during uniform issue at Recruit Training Command. (U.S. Navy photo by Sue Krawczyk/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (April 4, 2016) Engineman 2nd Class Shanice Floyd, a recruit division commander, ensures the proper fit of Seaman Recruit Megan Marte’s white enlisted hat, or “Dixie cup,” during uniform issue at Recruit Training Command. (U.S. Navy photo by Sue Krawczyk/Released)

 

Nearly every Friday, I have the honor of attending recruit graduation in Midway Hall and I witness first-hand the transformation from civilians to Sailors. It is truly awe inspiring to look on as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents and loved ones anxiously wait to see their new Sailor march in wearing their sharp dress uniform, a symbol of liberty and freedom recognized throughout the world. It is a great reminder of why we serve and for who we serve. There is no better way to start the weekend!

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Jan. 15, 2015) Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), salutes during arrival honors at the pass-in-review weekly recruit graduation in the Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall at Recruit Training Command (RTC). (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Jan. 15, 2015) Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), salutes during arrival honors at the pass-in-review weekly recruit graduation in the Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall at Recruit Training Command (RTC). (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released)

 

But graduation isn’t the only amazing part of RTC. It is what happens during those eight weeks of recruit training, ensuring we produce top-quality Sailors to support our Navy mission around the globe.

Our Navy is the world’s most adaptable fighting force in history. When we send new Sailors to the fleet, we want to ensure they are prepared to meet the demands of an ever-changing battlespace. To do this, we unify our efforts and train recruits in a way that best integrates them into the organization of commands in the fleet.

How we train is just as important as what we train

Recruits receive eight weeks of intensive training on some of the most cutting edge technology, including their pinnacle evolution through Battle Stations-21, a 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer simulator.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Feb. 29, 2016) A Sailor escorts Vice Adm. Jin-Sup Jung, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy commander of Naval Education and Training, through a simulated missile-damaged berthing compartment on the U. S. Navy’s largest simulator, USS Trayer (BST 21), a 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer replica, where recruits go through Battle Stations, a grueling 12-hour culmination of basic training and the last evolution recruits accomplish before they graduate. (U. S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Feb. 29, 2016) A Sailor escorts Vice Adm. Jin-Sup Jung, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy commander of Naval Education and Training, through a simulated missile-damaged berthing compartment on the U. S. Navy’s largest simulator, USS Trayer (BST 21), a 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer replica, where recruits go through Battle Stations, a grueling 12-hour culmination of basic training and the last evolution recruits accomplish before they graduate. (U. S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released

 

One of our biggest initiatives taking place at RTC is the eSailor program. Today’s generations of recruits are being raised from a young age using mobile technology integrated in to every part of their lives. The initiative embraces that mobile technology to enhance the training environment at RTC. Recruits are issued electronic tablets, which supplement their curriculum with Navy resources including instructions, Blue Jackets Manual, training videos, study Apps, and access to professional development websites.

GREAT LAKES, Ill., (Aug. 19, 2015) A seaman recruit uses an electronic tablet (e-tablet) to study the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in the USS Hopper Recruit Barracks at Recruit Training Command (RTC). Part of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy's eSailor initiative, Naval Service Training Command launched the second cycle of the pre-pilot  with recruit Division 947. The second cycle of testing will help determine how well the device integrates into the training environment at RTC. (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill., (Aug. 19, 2015) A seaman recruit uses an electronic tablet (e-tablet) to study the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in the USS Hopper Recruit Barracks at Recruit Training Command (RTC). Part of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy’s eSailor initiative, Naval Service Training Command launched the second cycle of the pre-pilot with recruit Division 947. The second cycle of testing will help determine how well the device integrates into the training environment at RTC. (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released)

 

The potential applications for eSailor will continue to grow. We believe that by tailoring training in a way that helps recruits better absorb knowledge, we will better produce top-quality Sailors who exceed fleet expectations. eSailor will also provide us with real-time analytics on training effectiveness, enabling us to quickly adapt our training programs to the evolving demands of the 21st century Navy.

We are an increasingly technological Navy and our boot camp must not only reflect, but anticipate the needs of our Navy. As the fleet continually advances in technology, our recruits and staff must embrace this shift as well. The eSailor initiative helps recruits interface with technology from day one.

Embracing information technology to enhance our training efforts

Our training programs must keep pace with fleet practices. Fleet feedback is an integral tool in keeping our training relevant.
By leveraging information technology, we are able to cut the time it takes to receive fleet feedback at a fraction of the cost.

This week, we launched “Recruit Reboot,” our new interactive online war game. We harness Naval Postgraduate School’s Massive Multiplayer Online War Game Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) platform to evaluate the most effective training practices at RTC. Sailors are invited to play “idea cards” and discuss boot camp training in a completely anonymous forum.

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Players earn points with each card they play and to show how much I value their input, the player with the most points will be commended for their positive contribution to Naval accessions training.

Sign up at http://mmowgli.nps.edu/recruitreboot/ and play Recruit Reboot from April 25 to May 13.

The future of our Navy starts here

Every enlisted Sailor begins their Navy career right here in Great Lakes. They are our greatest asset and the strength of our Navy. As we continue to strive for excellence, we explore new ways and innovations to support our Sailors and enhance our Navy’s operational agility.

I want to thank all of the RTC staff and recruits for choosing to answer the call to serve our country.

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