BISMARCK The North Dakota National Guard's Recruit Training Company in Bismarck showed potential Guardsmen that fun and games can translate into quality training as future recruits and their friends participated in a special training event at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory May 1.
The RTC is comprised of members of the National Guard who have taken an oath of enlistment, but have not yet finished or gone to their basic training course or advanced individual training. The RTC in Bismarck is one of three companies that make up the Recruit Training Battalion in North Dakota; the others are in Fargo and Devils Lake.
The RTB is part of the Recruit Sustainment Program concept created by the National Guard to help transition soldiers into basic training. Some soldiers arrive at basic training and then struggle to complete the course because of its new, challenging environment. Due to unsatisfactory success rates, the National Guard developed the RSP to help states improve completion rates of training.
Courtesy Photo --
A soldier with the Recruit Training Company hides behind an inflatable barrier while shooting at the opposing team, in this photo by Pfc. Jess Raasch. The Tacball system is used to teach soldiers how to maneuver in teams and work together to complete objectives.
Members of the RTC are allowed to bring friends who are interested in joining the National Guard to drill to get a first-hand glimpse at the types of standards and expectations held by members of the National Guard.
Last weekend, the RTC set up circuit training consisting of disassembly and assembly of the M-16 rifle, a target range using pellet guns, a Tacball competition and detainee operations.
During M-16 rifle training, the soldiers each received a weapon and learned step-by-step how to take the weapon apart and then how to reassemble it. Cadre with the RTC then attached lasers to the ends of the weapons and helped soldiers use a laser-target system that shows the accuracy of the soldiers' aim when shooting at a laser-receptive target.
"The laser target system prepares soldiers for going to the range and makes them more comfortable with their weapons," said Pfc. JoyLynn H. Deshaw, of Bismarck, a soldier who just finished all of her initial training with the National Guard. "Shooting and weapons maintenance is one of the most important parts of training because it is such an important factor in making it through basic training."
The pellet firing range taught soldiers how to post targets at a range while maintaining weapon safety. Soldiers shot pellet rifles to work on their marksmanship.
"The target system allows soldiers to learn different shooting techniques while providing weapons familiarization," said Cadet Nicholas K. Bendas, of Grand Forks, a cadre member with the RTC.
Tacball was used to teach soldiers teamwork and proper movement techniques. Large inflatable barriers are placed inside a Tacball tent where soldiers can move around to various positions while practicing proper team movement.
Tacball is a weapon system similar to paintball guns, but uses hard rubber as ammunition instead. The setup allows soldiers to fully demonstrate their movement skills while competing against each other as they shift around the large net tent.
The RTC split the company into small groups and put two groups in the tent at a time - one team on each end. A whistle started each round, and the teams worked together to make it to the opposite side of the tent without being hit by their opponents. In order to make it to the opposite side unscathed, the teams had to communicate and move fluently together.
"Tacball teaches soldiers to work as a team," said Staff Sgt. Randall Raasch, of Hettinger, a cadre member with the RTC. "Those who try to fight their way through solo, soon find out an individual cannot fight an opposing team."
Soldiers also learned how to properly search personnel for bombs, knives and other contraband; a critical warrior skill used frequently in current military operations.
"If you get deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and go outside the wire, you will search someone at some point in time," Raasch said. "Doing it right means you get to go home. Doing it wrong could mean otherwise."
RTC cadre carefully plan each event to ensure soldiers receive the training they need to be successful in their future units with the National Guard.
"We have been preparing our soldiers for this training for a long time," Bendas said. "We are putting the hard work into action. We are in the application process."
Raasch also emphasized the importance of continued training.
"It is easy to learn, but it is also easy to be complacent in these skills," Raasch said.
Basic training success rates have significantly increased for the North Dakota National Guard since the introduction of the RSP in 2004. For more information about the RTCs, visit (www.ndguard.ngb.army.mil/recruiting).