NASHVILLE — Tennessee Army National Guard officials said this week that at the end of May, Tennessee ranked 5th nationwide in overall “ship rates” for their new enlistees and No. 1 among large states. Every month the U.S. Army National Guard analyzes how well states and territories stick to original departure dates set for its enlistees. This provides measurable benchmarks to ensure training dollars are utilized most efficiently.
According to Lt. Col. Andy Easterly, Commander of the Tennessee Army Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, the goal is for every new enlistee to depart for Basic Training on time and well prepared — without changes to scheduled start dates.
“At the end of May our ship rate was 94.1 percent, which ranked us 1st among large states and that requires a lot of work from our people,” Easterly said. “It means so much to these young people to be able to make departure plans and stick to them.”
The Tennessee Army Guard’s Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) has played a major role in these accomplishments. Easterly said Tennessee has 12 RSP sites all across the state averaging 930 recruits at any given time. Each month, “RSP warriors,” as they are called, converge at one of 12 designated armories where they undergo preparation for basic training right up to the point they ship out. They are in a paid status during this training.
“It covers everything from how to salute, to facing movements, to marching in formation …. and everything in between,” Easterly explained. “When these young people leave for Basic, they are far ahead of others who have not received this level of preparatory training.
“Almost 300 new Tennessee recruits are scheduled to attend basic training or advanced individual training between late May and the end of July 2012. That represents a significant portion of the 2012 remaining recruit pool who have not already departed for training, with 188 reporting for training by the end of June, followed by another 92 scheduled in July 2012,” said Easterly. This year, the Tennessee Army National Guard’s recruiting goal is to enlist 1,430 new soldiers, with 25 percent being experienced veterans.
Army National Guard citizen soldiers typically complete training with their active-duty counterparts sometime during their 1st year of service. After initial entry training, they return to their assigned Tennessee units for the remainder of their reserve obligation. New recruits and veterans joining the Tennessee Army National Guard remain critical to readiness levels, Easterly said. Tennessee is required to maintain an end-strength of 10,608 Soldiers in the Army National Guard and depends heavily on the Volunteer Spirit of Tennessee citizens to meet those goals.
Easterly said the Tennessee Guard will enlist another 500 new members before October. The age requirements range from 17 to 34 for the Tennessee Army National Guard, unless the applicant has prior qualifying years of service. Standards for enlistment remain high, with 90 percent at minimum required to have high school diploma, and 65 percent of those must score in the upper 50 percent on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
Persons may visit their local National Guard Armory, call 1-800-GO-GUARD or visit www.1800goguard.com.