Life in an Army National Guard Regional Training Institute (RTI)

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.

Although I was excited to get promoted to Major (vacancy promotion), I wasn’t really sure of what to expect in my new unit.

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.”

In my case, our RTI taught Officer Candidate School (OCS), Pre-OCS, WOCS, FIT-P, Small Group Instructor Course (SGITC), 31B, the Combat Lifesaver Course and a few other courses.

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!

RTI

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.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, serving in a Regional Training Institute is a great experience.

Some Soldiers love it and others hate it.

Personally, I think all officers and NCOs should spend their “company grade years” in MTOE units in order to hone their leadership skills, and to become tactically and technically proficient.

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.

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7 thoughts on “Life in an Army National Guard Regional Training Institute (RTI)”

  1. I like how this post gets started pointing out that situations we have preconceived notions about need to be approached with an open mind. We have all prejudged people and situations at times.

    Being prior service (USAF) I understand the preconceived notions about training and sometimes those who work in training.

    What was stated here about you don’t know what you don’t know is actually huge. You have to get inside a place and actually talk to the people to see what any situation is actually about, and maybe the history that got it there.

    Training has to take place somewhere and somebody has to do the training.

    Keeping an open mind until we have the facts is something we can all work to get better at, whether in the service or civilian life. Being too quick making a judgement is not always good I have found.

    Forgive the long comment. Just my two cents in general on this one.

  2. I've been working in the Education side of the house for the last year or so and it is a much different world. I'm not at a schoolhouse, but I did attend a school that taught Education and Training and it was quite useful. I learned how to teach classes and how to meld civilian teaching with the military world.

    Even if you don't get assigned to a similar unit you should at least familiarize yourself with what they do. Plus it's never a good idea to have preconceived notions about what other career fields do.

    1. Working in the school house environment is good for some people, but it wasn’t for me. I was a “field unit” type of guy. That’s pretty much all I ever did and enjoyed.

  3. I enjoy these “behind the scenes” accounts of what various jobs and responsibilities are like in the military. I appreciate your comment about it being important to spend time outside of operational units to grow leadership skills. Taking on new challenges and getting outside our comfort zone are great to grow confidence and expand our skill set.

    1. Thanks, Leslie.

      I believe the best military leaders have a wide variety of military experiences. This makes them better leaders because they have more than one perspective.

      While you need troop time, especially as a young officer, make sure that you can as many different experiences as possible. It will open the door for more opportunities, help you get promoted faster and make you a better leader.

      Chuck

      1. Having different experiences in the Army only makes you a better leader. I think everyone should spend a year or so in the school house to learn what it’s like outside of a combat unit. It gives you good perspective.

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