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USS Cole Crewmember Shares Experience with Navy Recruits

By Scott A. Thornbloom, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION NEWPORT, R. I. (1/10/2011) -- As Officer Training Command (OTC) began a new year of training tomorrow's Navy leaders Jan. 1, the command is looking to attract a few more senior enlisted trainers to Officer Candidate School (OCS) and several other OTC schools.

Since the Navy established OCS in 1951, officer candidates have been trained by Navy officers and Marine Corps Drill Instructors (DIs). Senior enlisted, or chief petty officers (CPOs), have also played a role in officer training for a number of years. In the 90s, Navy senior enlisted Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs), or "red ropers," were added to the OCS training team.

More like officer candidate commanders instead of recruit commanders, the chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs who wear the red shoulder aiguillettes work with the Marine Corps drill instructors to train and mentor the candidates. OCS would now like to increase its number of senior enlisted trainers.

"We are looking for chiefs and senior chiefs who are physically fit and motivated and want to make a difference in shaping the future of the Navy," said Master Chief Electronics Technician (SW/AW) Matt Anuci, the senior enlisted advisor and OCS red roper at OTC.

Anuci said it is not well-known around the fleet that RDCs, who many people associate with the Navy's only boot camp, Recruit Training Command (RTC), aboard Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., are also being assigned to OTC.

"We're such a small command (OTC in Newport), and when you think 40,000 recruits go through RTC each year and you are always seeing the red rope of an RDC (more than 600) there, the natural assumption is that's the only place where there are RDCs," Anuci said. "The Navy also sends E-5 and E-6 RDCs to Great Lakes. Newport is totally different because we only have a select few (currently 12) senior enlisted RDCs."

Anuci said that OCS needs senior enlisted RDCs because of "the opportunity to mentor and mold and develop the division-officer-to-chief relationship that is a constant in the fleet."

He also said there is a need for more senior enlisted RDCs at OTC because many of the current 12 will transfer within the next couple of years. As with most commands, the turnover of Sailors, especially chiefs, is constant and continuous. So OTC is always on the lookout for qualified and motivated senior enlisted members to accept orders to OTC.

OTC has also been talking with the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) about detailing chiefs and senior chief petty officers who have previously been an RDC early in their careers. OTC would like to see senior enlisted return from the fleet to a shore duty billet at OTC as second tour RDCs. But this isn't a requirement.

The Shore Special Program Detailer (PERS-4010D) at NPC in Millington, Tenn., periodically sends out message traffic and announcements recruiting for RDCs at OTC.

In a recent RDC recruiting notice, NPC announced the need for hard-charging Navy professionals to provide RDC(NEC 9508) support at OTC. The announcement described the position as one that prepares OCS graduates for service in the fleet as naval officers.

The announcement (made periodically in LINK Magazine or on the NPC website, http://www.persnet.navy.mil/ReferenceLibrary/Publications/LinkOnline/),"looks for E-7 RDCs for OTC to function as senior enlisted technical experts and be responsible for the training, administration, good order and discipline and general welfare of assigned students throughout all phases of training."

"This is absolutely the most rewarding job I've ever had, and at the same time is the most demanding job that I've ever had," Anuci said.

OCS is one of five officer training schools located aboard Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. There is also the Officer Development School (ODS), Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination School (DCOIC), Limited Duty Officer and Chief Warrant Officer (LDO/CWO) school and Seaman-to-Admiral (STA-21) school. The staff officers, RDCs and DIs also provide training assistance for these schools, especially with the physical training of the students.

Capt. Kenneth Gray, OTC commanding officer, said because the command provides accession training to 65 percent of the Navy's new officers, "the RDCs at OTC have a tremendously positive influence on the newest generations of naval officers; an influence that lasts for decades."

"My challenge, and my vision for the RDCs is that they will model the very best division officer/chief petty officer relationship that our students should expect to experience in the fleet," Gray said.

Gray said that during the initial stages of OCS training, the RDCs focus on the militarization of the students and developing their discipline. But over time the focus shifts, and by the end of training the RDCs concentrate on mentoring the students and instilling the confidence and competence in them that they will need as leaders.

"Being an RDC at OTC is a challenging yet extremely rewarding assignment, Gray said. "Our RDCs routinely get letters and e-mails from former students that thank them for their training and for being a positive role model. Sometimes these letters can make your eyes water."

Many of the current senior enlisted RDCs agree with their commanding officer and senior enlisted advisor about the job at OCS being very rewarding.

"These candidates are the future of the Navy, and I wanted to come here to be able to make a difference in making sure these future officers are ready to join the fleet," said Chief Machinist's Mate (SW) Jamie Hebert. "It's a chance to mold a competent, confident and disciplined junior officer to send out to the fleet."

Hebert called being an RDC at OTC challenging but a great opportunity to have an impact on the future of the Navy.

"It also gives me sense of pride to carry on the traditions of the Navy and being able to instill some of those traditions, naval heritage or leadership to these individuals coming off the street and joining the Navy," Hebert said.

He also said one of the main jobs of any chief in the Navy, especially in fleet, is to train the newly-commissioned ensigns and junior officers to be a division officer and future leader.

"Here at Officer Training Command, we have that opportunity everyday to train the candidates in a multitude of different facets," Hebert said. "This is definitely a more influential way to get the JOs (junior officers) ready for the fleet."

Senior Chief Yeoman (SW) Patricia Arnold, presently the only female RDC at OTC, called it great duty for any female chief.

"This is an amazing tour and by far the best of my 22 years," Arnold said. "I would encourage female and male chiefs to come here. This is where you can share your experiences. This is where these young men and women are looking for guidance and direction in their lives. And this is where the chiefs that come here as RDCs are able to share those experiences and give that guidance to start these future officers out on the right foot."

Whether a first-time RDC at OTC or a second-tour RDC, all senior enlisted coming to OTC to train and mentor officer candidates need to attend RDC school at RTC. Even if the chiefs had been to the "C" school before, they need to refresh and be updated on any changes to the training of both recruits and officer candidates.

All Sailors looking to wear the "red rope" attend RDC School at RTC prior to duty. However, for RDC chiefs going to Newport, the few weeks of shadowing RDCs with recruit divisions at RTC isn't required. These chiefs go directly to OTC and receive a couple weeks of the training that is needed for OCS.

Arnold said there have also been discussions at OTC on adding OCS curriculum to RDC School, but she feels the hands-on training senior enlisted RDCs receive upon first arriving to OTC is effective.

"I think what we learn here when we arrive at OTC is tailored perfectly to the job we need to do," she said. "There is nothing better than to have the hands-on training of shadowing an OCS class, and then everything else comes with time. The great thing about the program here is we're allowed to make changes, to tailor it to our own teaching styles and be the chief."

OTC is overseen by Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered aboard Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NSTC manages all initial Navy officer and enlisted accessions training except for the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA).

Navy OCS was established in 1951. The Navy previously operated two officer candidate programs, OCS in Newport and Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla. AOCS trained prospective naval aviators, naval flight officers, aviation maintenance duty officers, and air intelligence officers, while OCS trained all other officer communities.

The original Navy OCS in Newport was closed in April 1994 when the programs were merged as a single OCS aboard NAS Pensacola. Subsequently, in 2007 the consolidated Navy OCS curriculum was relocated back to Newport by direction of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission of 2005.

For more information on OTC and OCS, visit http://www.ocs.navy.mil/.

For more information on RDC School, visit http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/staff/rdc_school.asp/.

For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit NSTC News.

Last Modified 5/15/2012

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