My goal today is to share with you some of my experiences while serving in a Regional Training Institute (RTI).
In 2010, I was assigned to Maryland’s state RTI, the 70th Regiment (Leader).
Initially, I was a little bit skeptical about leaving my comfort zone by serving in operational units, and to head to the school-house environment.
I must admit, I had preconceived notions about what it would be like to be in a TDA unit.
I had always had the perception that the school house environment was for the slackers; the people who couldn’t make it in operational units.
Several years earlier while I was an Active Duty Officer, I had the same impression of National Guard Soldiers.
I thought of them as the “Nasty Guard” or “a bunch of fat, out-of-shape weekend-warriors.”
I’ve since learned that initial impressions can be wrong.
We all have a certain set of beliefs and views about certain things.
And sometimes our views are wrong because we are misinformed or because we don’t know what we don’t know.
Before we judge something, we should try seeing things from a different viewpoint first. (That’s my lesson for the day).
Now, let’s get back to life in a Regional Training Institute.
What is an Army Regional Training Institute?
What is a RTI?
Simply put, it’s a military school-house for Soldiers.
It’s a certified institution with a mission of “training the force.”
The majority of the courses are OES, NCOES or MOS related.
This training is mostly for Soldiers assigned to units within the parent state however, we also offered courses for out-of-state students.
Each month, the RTI trains Soldiers.
They offer formal classes in a class-room environment.
The staff and instructors make sure the Soldiers receive exceptional training in accordance with Army standards.
They want the Soldiers to return to their assigned units as competent and capable Soldiers and military leaders.
The cadre prepares the training, provides the training, coordinates resources and personnel, and so forth.
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My Experience in the ARNG Regional Training Institute
As I mentioned earlier, I served in the Maryland Army National Guard RTI, the 70th Regiment (LDR) for about a year.
I was transferred to the unit when I received a vacancy promotion to Major.
My first job in the unit was as the Regimental S4. My second job was as the Regimental S3.
Both of those jobs were fun and challenging.
I learned a lot from the experience and think I am a better person because of it.
This was my final assignment before I resigned my commission.
Sometimes the drill weekends felt mundane; it was kind of like “ground-hog” day.
In most cases, every drill weekend was a home station drill weekend.
You didn’t spend much time in the field working on your technical or tactical proficiency.
Everything was designed to serve the students.
This isn’t a bad thing.
It’s just a HUGE difference compared to serving in a line unit where everyone is concerned with staying battle focused.
It’s really easy to forget WHY you are doing what you are doing.
It’s easy to get bored and frustrated.
Whenever I felt that way, I took a moment to realize that the Army paid me to accomplish my mission.
If my mission was to support and train students, that’s what I should be doing!
Personally, I think that spending some time “outside” of operational units makes us better leaders, even if we don’t enjoy the experience much.
It also gives us a different perspective about things.
It also makes you appreciate things, too.
Although I know I wasn’t cut out to serve in the school-house environment, I became a better officer because of it.
Had I returned to lead an operational battalion or tactical unit after my time at the RTI, I would have been a better leader and officer because of my experience.
In conclusion, serving in a Regional Training Institute is a great experience.
Some Soldiers love it and others hate it.
After getting promoted to Major or Sergeant First Class, officers and NCOs should “round out” their experience by serving a year or two in some type of TDA unit, before returning to a tactical unit.
This will give them an added perspective and make them a better Soldier and leader (my opinion).
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Have you ever served in a RTI before?
If so, did you enjoy it?
Please share your experience by leaving a comment to this post.
I look forward to hearing from you.