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    Captain Garrick Reflects On His Time as Recruit Training Command Commanding Officer



    Story by Alan Nunn 

    U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command

    GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Capt. Erik Thors relieved Capt. Michael S. Garrick as commanding officer, Recruit Training Command, in a traditional change of command ceremony July 31, at Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall, RTC.

    Capt. Garrick will report to OPNAV Acquisitions Manpower and Training Branch (N12) in the Washington, D.C. area.

    Before his departure, Capt. Garrick reflected on his time and experiences at RTC:

    When you first learned you were headed to RTC, you thought ...?

    "My family and I were very excited about getting slated to RTC. We had just done a couple fantastic overseas tours in both Japan and the United Kingdom, so we viewed moving to the Chicago area as the next chapter in our adventure. Professionally, the mission appealed to me right off the bat - I really looked forward to helping bring the next generation of Sailors into our profession, and I was excited to serve with such high-caliber Sailors and civilians."

    What surprised you the most at RTC once you arrived?

    "The biggest surprise was the sheer scope of the mission. Training more than 30,000 recruits every year is as daunting as it sounds, and the staff at RTC make it look easy."

    Each command is a unique experience. In what way was your tour at RTC unique to you both personally and professionally?

    "RTC is unique by definition - there's only one Navy boot camp. One of the most unique aspects about RTC is that we get a cross-section of the Navy on our staff - every community is represented here. It gives all of us the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Sailors who have completely different experience and expertise than our own. The Navy can be very tribal sometimes, but here, all of those tribes pull together to produce basically trained Sailors."

    What will you miss most about RTC?

    "The people who make this possible. The RTC staff of about 1,800 makes the impossible seem easy, day in and day out. Our families, who often live like their Sailors are on deployment for most of this tour, sacrifice as much, if not more than we do. None of this would be possible without our supporting commands and organizations: Naval Station Great Lakes, the James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center, the Functional Service Center and Personnel Support Detachment, the Regional Legal Service Office, the Navy Exchange, just to name a few."

    Is there a particular memorable moment that stands out?

    "There have been a lot of moments I will cherish for the rest of my life. Watching tears stream down the face of a young Sailor who has just completed Battle Stations, or seeing the pride on the family's faces when they see their new Sailor for the first time certainly both rank up there. My favorite part of this tour, however, has been witnessing our staff take on the mighty task of changing our curriculum to get back to basics. I outlined what the desired end state looked like, and they made it happen. They devoted their own ingenuity, talents and sweat to make the biggest change to basic training in decades. They own this success, and I am both extremely proud and eternally grateful to them."

    There's been quite a few changes at RTC under your command. Could you briefly discuss a few of those changes and the affect it's had on training?

    "The biggest change to our curriculum has been a refocusing on practical, hands-on learning. Over the course of many years, boot camp had become a catch-all for a lot of training items that every Sailor might need, but that were not directly applicable to the basic training process. Under the guidance of Rear Adm. (Mike) Bernacchi, we consolidated or removed about 35 hours of computer-based, administratively-oriented training requirements. This allowed us to get back to basics and give our recruits multiple opportunities to practice basic skill sets like firefighting/damage control, watch standing, seamanship and physical fitness.

    "Instead of giving recruits a computer-aided class on line-handling followed by a demonstration, we now introduce them to the topic in our seamanship lab, provide them three to four sessions to practice what they've learned, and then we evaluate them before they go onto Battle Stations. Every training event is now graded and recruits have to demonstrate they have learned the required skills before we allow them move onto the next phase of training.

    "Physical training and fitness standards are a lot more robust now, too. We increased the graduation standard for the Physical Fitness Assessment from probationary to satisfactory medium, and we instituted a minimum standard to begin training, called the forming standard.

    "The biggest initiative we are working on for the near future is our 'Warrior Toughness' program. We have taken a mind, body and soul approach to toughness, which we now define as a core competency, just like firefighting. We are providing practical tools to our staff and our recruits to help improve resilience and performance. The results are preliminary, but we're very excited by what we've seen so far.

    "The impact of our new curriculum has been measurable. Our graduates are tougher and better prepared to serve than a year ago. I am extremely proud of our staff, who conceived most of these changes and did all the heavy lifting needed to implement them."

    What will you now eat for dinner on Thursday nights? Pizza?
    "I prefer tacos."

    As you prepare to leave RTC, you think ...?

    "My family and I have been truly blessed to have this opportunity. I know our Navy will remain ready to answer the call, because we have men and women like those who serve here at RTC standing the watch. The Sailors we train here have the skills they need to carry out the nation's work, and they know what it means to serve."

    Any advice for future RTC commanders?

    "Enjoy running a family-owned-and-operated institution, pace yourself, and don't blink - it will be over before you know it, or want it to be."

    Capt. Garrick praised the men and women of RTC in his final comments during the Change of Command ceremony.

    "In 24 years of naval service, I have been very fortunate to lead and follow some of our most consummate professionals, but none better than those here at RTC. You have kept faith with the fleet, with one another, and with the recruits under your charge. You have exceeded my every expectation and humbled me with your loyalty and commitment."

    Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 30,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

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    Date Taken: 08.21.2018
    Date Posted: 09.20.2018 13:11
    Story ID: 293731
    Location: NORTH CHICAGO, IL, US 

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