The Secretary of the Navy authorized the Navy Recruit Training Service Ribbon (RTSB) in 1998 to recognize successful completion of a tour of duty as a Recruit Division Commander at the Navy’s “boot camp,” officially known as Recruit Training Command, at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois.

There is likely no more important phase in the careers of Sailors than the eight weeks they spend at Recruit Training Command at Naval Training Center Great Lakes in Illinois. Over this relatively short period of time, they must be transformed into civilians with almost no knowledge of the Navy or the military into Sailors equipped with the training and skills necessary for them to immediately contribute to the success of their unit’s mission. And no one plays a greater role in this process than their Recruit Division Commanders, or RDCs.

The Navy’s equivalent of the Army’s Drill Sergeant or the Marine Corps’ Drill Instructors, RDCs are tasked with every aspect of recruit development, from physical fitness and weapons training to a variety of seamanship skills (firefighting, damage control, etc.). The impact an RDC has on a Sailor’s development is almost incalculable, and the importance of their role is reflected in the billet’s eligibility requirements and training regimen.

While RDC candidates have typically reached the rate of Petty Officer First Class, or PO1, PO2s are eligible for consideration if they have at least six years of time in service and two years time in rate. They must be warfare qualified, display outstanding leadership traits, able to lead physical fitness training on a daily and frequent basis, be well-spoken with a professional demeanor, and have an outstanding appearance in uniform. Any non-judicial punishments automatically disqualify potential RDCs, they must have maintained 3.0 evaluation marks or higher in all categories over the 36 months preceding their selection. Those who meet all the eligibility requirements will attend RDC “C” School and, upon graduation, will undergo on-the-job training by shadowing an RDC.

To qualify for the RTSB, personnel must be assigned an RDC; simply working as an instructor or in another role at Recruit Training Command will not suffice. A “successful tour of duty” is defined as having trained a minimum of five divisions and having spent at least three years as an RDC.

The life of an RDC is, to say the least, demanding; they can easily spend up to 18 hours per day working with recruits, switching “hats” to act as counselor, teacher, and disciplinarian. Numerous incentives are offered to potential RDCs, including fairly substantial Special Duty Assignment Pay, additional clothing allowance, accelerated advancement opportunities, and unique educational programs.

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As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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