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NEWS | Sept. 13, 2006

No 'diamonds in the rough:' Ohio's largest pinning of new first sergeants

By Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Carter Recruiting and Retention Battalion

To some, diamonds represent a commitment to a relationship meant to last a lifetime. To others, the word diamond brings to mind a playing field where the competition is tough and winning is everything.

In the Ohio Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, these two concepts have fused into one, with the diamond – placed between three stripes above and three rockers below – representing the selfless commitment and fierce desire to achieve earned by eight master sergeants who recently were promoted to the rank of first sergeant.

On Aug. 22, Brig. Gen. Matthew Kambic, assistant to the adjutant General for Army, and Sgt. Maj. Michael Belcher, senior sergeant major for the Recruiting and Retention Battalion, pinned the prestigious rank on Master Sgts. Tonya Curry, Columbus; V. Jerry Coleman, Cleveland; Donald Lawrence, Northeast; Douglas Reed, Southeast; Scott Hutt, Canton; Robert Florek, Cincinnati; James Robbins, Dayton; and Jeffrey Collingsworth, Central.

This marks the first time in Recruiting Battalion history that an NCO has held the rank of first sergeant.

“It's great to finally have the diamond to go along with this level of leadership and responsibility,” said 1st Sgt. Jerry Coleman, noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the Cleveland recruiting area.

The man responsible for the current structure of the organization, Recruiting and Retention Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jerry Rees, couldn't agree more.

“Our first sergeants perform the same duties and execute the same responsibilities as any other company,” Rees said. “They are responsible for all training, logistics and personnel actions within the company.  Our largest company, Company E in North Canton, has around 200 soldiers assigned.”

“Becoming a first sergeant in the recruiting command was something I had never even considered when I first became a recruiter,” said 1st Sgt. Scott Hutt, Canton area NCOIC. “It now makes perfect sense to have first sergeants in the Recruiting Command. The RSP/Company structure has given all of the NCOs a chance to get back to leading, soldiering and training.”

The Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP) Hutt refers to has taken on a new face in the last year. It is a pre-basic training program where new enlistees attend their one-weekend-a-month drill, reporting to their recruiters instead of their assigned units, which has been the tradition of the program. It helps integrate troops into their new role as Soldier and prepares them for basic combat training, now known as initial entry training (IET)

First Sgt. Jeffery Collingsworth, Central Recruiting Area NCOIC, thinks the introduction of the first sergeant to the Recruiting Command will especially benefit the RSP program.

“It gives new Soldiers a better understanding of the Army structure,” he said. “The RSP companies now have squad leaders, platoon sergeants and a first sergeant just like any other company in the Army. New soldiers can learn about the chain of command and how it works before they ever leave for IET.”

“It is the last piece of the puzzle to make the command an NCO-driven organization,” added Coleman. “Long term, I think the effect will be that the best (Recruiting Command) NCOs will strive even harder to be the best they can be…looking forward to the day they can run a Recruiting and RSP Company as a first sergeant.”

“The intent of our restructure is to solidify a legacy force dominated by the NCO corps, with the officers in a support role,” Rees explained. “In addition to our sergeants major and first sergeants, we have established 22 Team Leaders that directly supervise the day-to-day activity of four to seven RRNCOs. These 22 “Fire Teams” are the center of gravity for the command. We will win or lose the accessions fight at this level.”

With its revitalized leadership and organizational restructuring, Ohio's Recruiting Command has decided to win.

“These NCOICs and their recruiters have cut overall training pipeline losses nearly in half and have enlisted over 500 more soldiers in Fiscal Year 2006 than FY05,” Rees said. “They exceeded 100 percent of our national end-strength objectives and posted the best recruiting year in the history of the Ohio Army National Guard.

“Their contributions in the areas of accessions, retention and ship rates for new soldiers directly impacted the state's July national ranking of #5 in the nation and #1 among all large states,” he added.

“Congratulations to these newly promoted NCOs,” said Brig. Gen. Matt Kambic, assistant adjutant General for Army. “Great things are expected from them as first sergeants of the RSP companies and as NCOICs of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. These NCOs exhibit world-class leadership and will serve as excellent role models and examples of the professional NCO for all newly accessed soldiers.”



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