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By Pfc. Courtney Gapac, 138th Field Artillery Brigade
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky National Guard's Recruit Sustainment Program in Louisville, relocated in August to better accommodate the training needs of new recruits who attend monthly drills here. The RSP recruits were welcomed into the new Bowman Readiness Center which was just opened Oct. 14.
The primary concern of RSP is to reduce training pipeline losses by preparing newly enlisted Soldiers for basic combat training and advanced individual training, said Staff Sgt. Robert H. Foushee, the readiness noncommissioned officer for Detachment 3, Alpha Company, Kentucky Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
State wide, RSP has decreased from eight sites to six, Foushee said. The program has had to evolve due to a tight budget and the constant influx of new recruits.
"We have to figure out how to do more with less," Foushee said. We're having to get more creative, and reach back into our toolbox to figure out ways to meet our goals."
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With more classrooms, more adequate storage space, a fitness room, and a classroom with full computer access for Soldiers to complete online training modules, the new facility will only further improve the successes of the RSP here.
It is also beneficial that the new facility is located in the same building as headquarter elements, said Foushee.
"The nature of the Guard, which forces Soldiers to take a break from civilian life, makes them more susceptible to forces that cause failure," Foushee said. "RSP is setting Soldiers up for success by preparing them for training, keeping them motivated, relieving fear of the unknown, and keep the flow going by giving them someplace to come back to."
The curriculum for new enlistees preparing to ship to BCT is designed for three months and is organized into a three-phase system. Once the recruits are in-processed, they are integrated into military culture and given instructions on the Army values, the chain of command and proper wear of the uniform.
Later phases focus on the training community, military history and background and physical readiness.
RSP has a continued curriculum for troops who enlisted in the Split Training Option program and are awaiting advanced individual training (AIT). During this phase, they may serve as student leaders while they receive additional physical readiness and leadership responsibilities.
Once Soldiers have completed AIT, they attend three months of drill at RSP to ensure that they are fit to report to their home units.
"It's a very productive program," said Bobby Prather Sr., retired master sergeant and recruit sustainment program specialist for Det. 3. "Our ship rate is up, our completion rate is up, and we have very few administrative issues when the Soldiers get to their training sites."
Many of the recruits who attend RSP value the experience, and are eager about the future of the program.
“It's a place where you feel safe to develop and learn,” said Pfc. Jalen Manor North, another recent AIT graduate. “It gave me the chance to interact with NCOs and to try my hand out as a leader.”
The Soldiers that have come through RSP have felt fully prepared to face the challenges to come.
“When it comes to the military, you constantly have to adapt and be combat effective,” said Cowgill. “To build the house, you must have a solid foundation. This program helps make sure we are prepared for anything, so if a deployment happened, we won't be a fish out of water.”