In 2014, National Guard Bureau placed the Nevada Army Guard’s 421st Regional Training Institute on probationary status for failing to meet national standards.
The training institute lost its ability to issue graduation documents to students who attended courses in Nevada — nullifying its mission and purpose for existence.
In just two years, however, the 421st is making a comeback, evident in its successful transition under The Army School System (TASS) to One Army School System (OASS).
Clearly, a lot has change in two years.
Maj. Gen. Glen Moore, the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army National Guard Training and Doctrine Command, visited the RTI earlier this week to discuss the 421st’s vision for its future and how the OASS will help the 421st achieve its goals.
Under TASS, active duty Soldiers generally attend training at active component schools and reserve component Soldiers attend reserve component schools. OASS aims to change that by restructuring which schoolhouses are authorized to teach certain military occupational specialty and leadership courses, said Col. Mark Boll, Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army National Guard Training and Doctrine Command.
“Eventually, we want to have about 30 percent of active component Soldiers attending reserve component schools versus the 7 percent we have now,” said Sgt. Maj. Steve Bishop, Sergeant Major for the U.S. Army National Guard Training and Doctrine Command. “One Army School System works to bring all Army components to the same level of training while simultaneously streamlining how Soldiers receive that training.”
“One Army School System has forced National Guard units to take a look at themselves, evaluate what kind of product we’re delivering to our Soldiers and work to eliminate courses going unfulfilled,” Moore said. “Active component schoolhouses aren’t going away and RTIs aren’t going away, but it just makes sense to adjust course loads based on demand. It is hard to justify all the courses the National Guard was teaching when we have courses at about 25 to 40 percent capacity, on average, instead of 60 to 75 percent.”
Implementing OASS means some reserve component RTIs will reduce the amount of certifications they offer while others will increase, Boll said. The 421st recently eliminated military police (31B) and motor transport operator (88M) MOS training from its curriculum, and now focuses solely on offering signal support specialist (25U) and information technology specialist (25B) MOS and leadership training.
“Why would we authorize an RTI to teach a course when they are only teaching one a year for 20 students and 200 miles away another RTI is teaching five courses a year with 40 students in each class?” Boll said. “In an example like this, and there are many real world examples just like it, it just makes sense to take the one course away and add it to the other who is already doing more.”
Nevada’s RTI offers six courses each year with about 18 students attending, on average, said Master Sgt. Don Welch, the 421st readiness noncommissioned officer. The 421st hopes that it can secure more classroom space in the near future to increase course and student capacity, Welch said.
The 421st is ideally located because many signal corps units in California, Arizona and Nevada are in or around Las Vegas, said Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan, commander of the Nevada Army Guard. Less expensive flight options and a partnership with Nellis Air Force Base to provide student housing and food accommodations are additional reasons the 421st is well suited as a western regional hub for signal corps training, Hanifan continued.
“If the 421st can show that they are able to provide higher capacity for classes – that they are able to help clear the backlog of Soldiers waiting for classes in big Army’s system and that there is not another schoolhouse in their area teaching the same courses – then they are better suited for success in the One Army School System,” Boll said.
One of the challenges the 421st and other RTIs face is attracting the Soldiers to become instructors, Moore said. A solution to this problem is to ensure that instructor positions offer additional benefits, such as promotions, even though some Soldiers are already more than willing to work with the 421st.
“I actually took an administrative reduction in order to take this job,” said Staff Sgt. Tommy Rodriguez, an advanced leadership course instructor with the 421st. “I was working with the G6 and loved what I did, but I really enjoy seeing the impact and output of what we do here at the RTI.”