If you enlist in the Army National Guard and have a few months before you leave for Basic Combat Training, there’s a good chance you will be assigned to the state’s Recruitment Sustainment Program also known as the RSP. When you enlist in the Guard, you choose a MOS and get assigned to a unit. Many troops ship off for Basic training right away (within 30 days) but others might take 3-6 months until they leave.
Rather than reporting to their assigned unit, soldiers waiting to leave for Basic Training will report to the Recruitment Sustainment Program. In most cases, the program is led by a senior Major or Lieutenant Colonel along with a group of high speed NCOs. The size of the program varies by State, and programs can be as few as 10-20 soldiers or as many as 100 or more (not counting the staff).
The RSP program is designed to indoctrinate soldiers to the Army and prepare them for basic training. In essence, it teaches soldiers the ‘basics’ about being a soldier before they ship off to Basic Training. They learn about land navigation, first aid, physical fitness, the chain of command, rank structure, drill and ceremony, reporting procedures, military history, and much more.
Within the RSP Program, there are six distinct phases:
- Red: This is the first phase. You will go through this phase during your first drill weekend in the program. You will learn about the rank structure, the chain of command, the history of the National Guard, drill and ceremony and a few other things.
- White Phase Stripes for Skills: This phase teaches some of the Warrior Tasks to include land navigation and first aid. Once you complete these tasks and pass your APFT you can get promoted to E2.
- White Phase: Soldiers with a long wait before they ship out will spend some time in this phase learning about the Army Values, proper wear of the uniform, tactics, etc.
- Blue: This is your final drill weekend with the RSP before you ship for Basic Training.
- Green: This is for soldiers with split option who have a long delay between Basic Training and AIT.
- Gold Phase: After you graduate Basic Training and AIT, you head back to the Recruitment Sustainment Program for one final drill weekend.
Not ALL Soldiers will participate in every phase of the RSP Program. If you join the Guard and ship off for Basic Training right away, you will skip most phases of the program (most likely). However, if you join under the delayed entry program or have a few months from when you to enlist until you attend Basic Training, the Recruit Sustainment Program will be your temporary unit for 3 to 12 months.
The program has its supporters and skeptics. As a former Company Commander in the Guard, I have mixed feelings about the value of the RSP. Although I do believe the program has its merits, I think it would be much wiser to send the Soldiers to their assigned unit in lieu of the Recruitment Sustainment Program. That way the Soldiers could train with their new unit and get to know the Soldiers as early as possible. I believe the unit can do just as good of a job training the soldiers as the RSP does.
Another issue is that the Soldiers assigned to the RSP are still on their parent unit’s books (unit manning roster) for reporting purposes. Sometimes that makes it difficult to for the parent unit to account for a Soldier while they are in transition from the program to Basic to AIT and returning from AIT. And in many cases when there are Soldier issues, the parent unit is expected to fix it. Also, there are frequent communication issues between the RSP and parent unit.
If I was “the General” for the day, I would get rid of the program and let units train their new Soldiers while they are waiting to leave for Basic Training or AIT. Of course, I’m NOT the General for the day so it really doesn’t matter. Another simple fix would be to place these RSP Soldiers on a RSP Manning Document instead of the unit’s manning document so the parent unit would not have to account or track the soldier until they are actually assigned to their new unit. This would alleviate a lot of the problems.
I would love to hear what you think about the RSP program. If you participated in your state’s Recruitment Sustainment Program please share your thoughts with us. Did you like it? Was it helpful? Do you think the ARNG should keep the program? Has anything about the program changed (compared to what I wrote)? Just leave a comment below to share your thoughts. We value your opinions. We are also willing to answer any questions, so feel free to ask.