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Great Lakes Bulletin

Recruit leadership essential at the Navy’s only boot camp

SR Shawn Forman, 23, Brick, N.J., Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO) for Division 813, inspects fellow recruit Nick Raducha, 24, Crown Point, Ind., prior to a inspection by the Recruit Division Commander (RDC). RCPOs are the primary recruit assistant to the RDCs; responsible for enforcing standing orders, reporting abnormal conditions, ensuring accuracy of muster reports and watch bills.
SR Shawn Forman, 23, Brick, N.J., Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO) for Division 813, inspects fellow recruit Nick Raducha, 24, Crown Point, Ind., prior to a inspection by the Recruit Division Commander (RDC). RCPOs are the primary recruit assistant to the RDCs; responsible for enforcing standing orders, reporting abnormal conditions, ensuring accuracy of muster reports and watch bills.

When a division is formed at Recruit Training Command (RTC) here, one of the first duties of Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs) is appointing 17 recruits to make up the division staff.
The division staff is the recruit chain of command. They represent the leadership among the recruits and handle much of the day-to-day operations during boot camp. Recruits who stand out as leaders within the division can earn a place within their chain of command.
RDCs take great care in choosing the staff. They work to make sure each job is manned by a recruit who shows strength for the position. The jobs range from the top spots of Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO), Recruit Leading Petty Officer (RLPO), Recruit Master At-Arms (RMAA), to yeoman, watch section leaders and recruits that fill needs within the division such as laundry, education, mail, and athletic petty officers.
Those in the recruit chain of command have authority within scope of their duties. Their orders carry the same weight as orders issued by RDCs. They are responsible for keeping good order, discipline and security with their division. Any violations are reported by the recruit petty officers up through the division chain of command.
“I expect the division staff to report anything that is going on within the division that we do not know about,” said AZ1(AW/SW) Tanya Smith, RDC for Division 931. “We are charged with the safety of our recruits; we rely on the division staff to assist us.”
Each division’s RCPO is the primary recruit assistant to the RDC. They are responsible for ensuring compliance with standing orders, reporting abnormal conditions and ensuring the accuracy of muster reports and watch bills.
“There is a time to play around, joke and laugh, and then there is a time we need our military bearing (and) do our job,” said SR Shawn Forman, 23, from Brick, N.J., and RCPO for Division 813. “It is my job to get the division working as one so everyone successfully completes boot camp.”
Forman said he is always looking to be better at his job as division leader.
“I am constantly changing my leadership style,” Forman said. “Fellow recruits come up to me and give me suggestions on doing my job better, just like I give them suggestions. I’m always trying to become a better leader.”
The RLPO assists the RCPO in their duties, ensures compliance with standing orders and regulations, and assumes the duties of RCPO when required.
RMAAs answer to the RCPO and RLPO. They are responsible for the cleanliness and configuration of division spaces. Procurement and proper stowage and use of cleaning gear are also charged to the RMAAs. They also supervise the laundry, damage control and weapons petty officers.
“It is my job to keep order in the division and with the division space,” said SR Autumn Yarbrough, 20, from Davison, Mich., and MAA for Division 931. “The most challenging part of my job is to keep everyone working together. There are a lot of people with different personalities and backgrounds that do not always mesh well together. I have to keep the peace.”
A recruit yeoman is responsible for general clerical duties and assisting the RDCs with the preparation of division reports, records and attendance rosters. They are accountable for ensuring compliance with taskings performed by the medical and dental yeoman and the education, athletic and religious petty officers, or the yeoman staff.
The yeoman also keeps in their possession of a copy of the division and ship staff-watch bill, barracks checkout sheets as well as the hard card of every recruit in a black canvas bag issued to them upon being assigned the yeoman position. The hard card contains each recruit’s personal information and tracks their progress through boot camp. The yeoman is responsible for updating information such as test qualifications, demerit chits, phone calls allowed and medicine being taken by the recruit.
“I have to keep track of the medical and dental appointments and the training of over 80 recruits,” said SR Sara Schmitt, 25, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a yeoman for Division 931. “We are in the office quite a bit, so we work closely with the RDCs. They rely on us to keep them updated on changes of appointments and training. We are there to support the RDCs, making what they do a bit easier.”
There are two watch section leaders in each division – port and starboard. They are the senior Recruit Petty Officers (RPOs) for watch sections. The port watch section leader coordinates the rotation of the ship watch standers with the RDC. The starboard watch section leader serves as the division’s watch bill coordinator. They prepare and submit the watch bill to the RDCs through the RCPO.
“If I do not do my job correctly, things within the compartment won’t be correct,” said SR David Hughes, 25, from Virginia Beach, Va., and a starboard watch section leader for Division 813. “Part of the job is to make sure everything in the compartment is inspection-ready, nobody is hurt and making sure nothing wrong is going on.”
It is rare to see the same recruit division staff picked at the beginning of boot camp still in place at the end of boot camp. Sometimes recruits who are chosen do not have the skills to perform their duties throughout the entire eight weeks of boot camp. Often, other recruits who show better character and leadership qualities take the place of the original staff.
“If there is subpar performance by a recruit division staff or if another recruit steps up to outshine a current staff member, we will change the staff,” Watkins said. “We demand that they lead by example. When they don’t, we switch them out, for their own good as well as the good of the division.”
Editor’s note: This is part four of an eight-part series.

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