USA: Assistant Secretary of Navy Visits RTC
The Honorable Juan M. Garcia, III, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), visited the Navy’s only boot camp, Recruit Training Command (RTC), Great Lakes, Ill., July 27.
It was the secretary’s second visit to RTC and his second time serving as the reviewing officer for the Pass-in-Review graduation ceremony at RTC where 459 recruits became Sailors.
“This is my second opportunity to serve as a reviewing officer for the graduation at RTC and both times it renews your faith in the incredible young Americans who are willing to raise their right hands and serve in the Navy,” said Garcia, who oversees personnel issues in the Navy. “Experts tell us that only one-in-four – only 25 percent – of 17-to-24-year-olds are medically, mentally, legally eligible to serve in the Navy. These are the best of best and, by any objective metric, the nation has never had this qualified a recruit. It’s a privilege to watch them take their next big step.”
Prior to reviewing the graduation ceremony, the secretary toured the Navy’s largest simulator, USS Trayer (BST 21), the 210-foot-long mock-up of an Arleigh Burke destroyer inside a warehouse of RTC’s USS Iowa headquarters building.
Battle Stations is a grueling 12-hour event where recruits complete 17 different shipboard scenarios on board Trayer. The state-of-the-art training facility uses theme park special effects technology to simulate a variety of shipboard emergencies from shipboard fires and compartment flooding. The recruits must pass Battle Stations before graduating from boot camp. Battle Stations uses lessons learned from actual events, attacks and mishaps at sea. The 2000 terrorist attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) in Yemen, mine damage to USS Tripoli (LPH 10) during Desert Storm in 1990 and the missile attack to USS Stark (FFG 31) in the Persian Gulf in 1987 have all been incorporated into the training curriculum, along with past and historic at-sea accidents, like the fire on the flight deck aboard the carrier USS Forrestal (CV 59) during the Vietnam War in 1967.
“Battle Stations 21 is a great primer for our new Sailors today. I wish every division officer had a chance to see what their Sailors go through and what receiving that Navy ball cap means to them,” said Garcia. “I go back to the Pentagon convinced that we are getting the best of America.”
Following the tour of Trayer and Battle Stations Garcia was given an opportunity to observe a capping ceremony where recruits receive their Navy ball cap. During the ceremony recruits change out their recruit ball caps, which they have worn since arriving at RTC, to a Navy ball cap signifying a recruit is now considered a Sailor.
“The team at RTC has this down to a smooth, well-oiled, precise operation. These families see their Sailors physically and mentally transformed (at graduation) and have an unbelievable day that they’ll remember all their lives. It’s great to be a part of it,” said Garcia.
“It’s a privilege to part of this Navy team and a part of the ‘Global Force for Good’ and to ensure that our flag continues to pack the symbolism it has across the world.”
Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) oversees 98 percent of the officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. That includes RTC, the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program at more than 150 colleges and universities that either host NROTC units or have cross-town enrollment agreements with a host university. NSTC also oversees Officer Training Command in Newport, R.I., as well as the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps citizenship development program at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
Naval Today Staff, August 1, 2012; Image: US Navy