GREAT LAKES, Ill. – Sailors are some of the most highly trained people on the planet, according to Navy officials, and this training requires highly dedicated recruit division commanders.
At Recruit Training Command, otherwise known as “boot camp,” hard-charging Navy professionals, guides recruits in the transformation process, from civilians, into disciplined, qualified Navy sailors.
Petty Officer 1st Class Demarcus Bartee, a native of Valdosta, is a recruit division commander at RTC, who trains and mentors the future of the fleet, according to Navy officials.
“I enjoy developing warfighters and the bond that I build with them over the next eight to nine weeks,” Bartee said. “In a way, they become family.”
RDCs are highly qualified, fleet sailors, specially selected for their leadership and teaching abilities to mold tomorrow’s sailors. They must pass a highly rigorous, 13-week course of instruction and represent and teach Navy tradition, customs, discipline and be intimately familiar with instructional techniques, principles of leadership and administrative procedures.
Bartee, a 2009 graduate of Valdosta High School, credits success as a RDC to many of the lessons learned growing up in Valdosta.
“My high school wrestling coach, Benjy Scarbor, could have given up on me but he taught me physical toughness, how to control my emotions and most importantly, taught me manners towards the young and elderly,” Bartee said.
In 1994, RTC Great Lakes became the Navy's only recruit training facility. The mission of RTC is to transform civilians into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained sailors who are ready for follow-on training and service to the fleet while instilling in them the highest standards of honor, courage and commitment, Navy officials said.
Recruit training involves a change in the mental and physical capacity of the new recruit, according Navy officials. From the first day at RTC through graduation day when new sailors board the bus to depart, recruits find themselves in a whirl of activity. Every recruit entering the Navy today will remember RTC as their introduction to Navy life.
Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Their basic training curriculum is comprised of five core competencies: firefighting and damage control, seamanship, watch standing and physical fitness.
Through a hands-on learning approach, recruits "train how they fight" and receive critical warfighting skills during the sailor development process. The command consists of more than 1,100 staff members, with an average of 6,000 recruits in training at any time.
"A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans," Navy officials said. "More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea."
Bartee plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy, Navy officials said.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Bartee said he is most proud of earning Junior Sailor of the Year for 2018, which helped him achieve the rank of petty officer first class.
“I've been up for a lot of awards before but never won any until I got to RTC,” Bartee said. “Receiving this award showed me that patience is a virtue. When it’s my time, my time will come, and that time definitely came.”
Bartee is the first in his family to serve in the military and hopes to begin a family tradition.
“I’m first-generation of my family to serve in the military and I hope to lead by example for my future family and friends,” Bartee said.
As a member of one of the Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Bartee and other RDCs know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs, Navy officials said.
“Serving in the Navy means defending the country, foreign and domestic, watching out for one another and at this point in my naval career, molding junior sailors to become leaders,” Bartee said. “For those who want to join the Armed Forces, keep a positive mindset and keep in mind what your dreams and goals are and protect them.”