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Navy: Mentors needed in the barracks

Nov. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
A Navy military training instructor conducts a uniform inspection Nov. 13 at Training Support Center Great Lakes, Ill.
A Navy military training instructor conducts a uniform inspection Nov. 13 at Training Support Center Great Lakes, Ill. (Matt Mogle/Navy)
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Shore-duty-eligible sailors wanting more information or seeking to volunteer for the job should start by talking with their career counselor or detailer.
Applicants must either already hold or qualify for the Navy Enlisted Classification 9502 — Navy instructor.
NMTIs are needed at locations around the Navy including:
■ Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill.
■ Naval Air Technical Training Center Pensacola, Fla.
■ Naval Technical Training Center Meridian, Miss.
■ Naval Training Support Center Great Lakes, Ill.
■ Mine Warfare Training Center Point Loma, Calif.
■ Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Center Pacific, Point Loma

Pushing boots as a recruit division commander is not the only assignment that allows you to train up the fleet’s next generation.

For those wanting an influential job, with fewer hours than RDCs, Capt. Henry “Hank” Roux has one for you: serving as a Navy military training instructor.

As commanding officer of Training Support Center Great Lakes, Ill., Roux says he has more than 120 of the finest sailors in the Navy doing arguably one of the service’s most important jobs.

Nearly 20 percentof his staff are reservists on one-year recalls to meet the training demands, Roux said. But the Reserve’s funding is drying up after this fiscal year, and he needs more active-duty sailors to join the ranks and fill the gap.

And he’s not alone — there are several other locations in the Navy looking for shore-duty-eligible sailors.

“The problem is that no one knows these jobs are here or what they’re about,” Roux said. “Everyone knows about recruit division commanders; we’re trying to make the fleet aware these positions are here and why but also educate sailors on the positives taking a tour up here can mean to their careers.”

The primary mission of an NMTI is to oversee the barracks of sailors in “A” and “C” schools and to help sustain the military bearing of these sailors.

Instructors are typically petty officers who serve in three- to five-man teams led by a chief. Each team oversees 150 to 400 recruits.

Job duties include barracks and uniform inspections, supervising student watchstanders, enforcing Navy rules and conducting liberty briefs. In terms of admin work, they have to maintain student records, quarterdeck logs and watchbills.

They’re also responsible each week to give liberty briefs with the students to review rules and regulations prior to the weekend.

It may sound like your job is doing a lot of baby-sitting, and Roux acknowledges it’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a unique opportunity to really make a difference in the service, he said.

“If you do your job well, you may be molding more than just a future petty officer, you may have the future MCPON or future CNO,” said Roux. “If you do the right things, you will set them on a path for success.”

The job has only been around in its current form since 2006. Leadership in the fleet had been complaining sailors were arriving at the brow with a distinct lack of military knowledge and bearing. NMTIs make sure that lessons instilled in boot camp stick.

Roux said he’s looking for sailors who aren’t afraid to be tough leaders — but ones who also can demonstrate patience and compassion.

“We have a population of primarily 18- to 24-year-olds, and the NMTIs are responsible for helping them keep their military focus and guide them in making the right and good decisions, and steering them away from bad or wrong decisions,” Roux said.

The schools afford much more freedom to sailors than boot camp did, Roux said, potentially exposing sailors to negative outside influences.

“These distractions are again front and center in their lives, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so along with keeping them in line with their military bearing and standards, it’s the NMTI’s job to be there to help navigate those distractions to make decisions that won’t have an adverse impact on their Navy careers,” he said. “This job will challenge your leadership skills in ways you never imagined were even possible.”

Sailors taking these jobs come for a three-year tour with a more flexible schedule than RDCs receive.

NMTIs are in the barracks around the clock and have working quarters as well as private sleeping quarters when pulling the overnight shift.

“We give each ship’s chief the ability to work with their sailors in setting schedules that work for them,” Roux said.

Leading Roux’s cadre of NMTI’s is Master Chief Fire Controlman (SW) Nicholas Petric, who first served at Great Lakes as an RDC at the Recruit Training Center from 2003 to 2007.

Petric wanted to clear up a misconception out in the fleet. NMTIs are not instructors at the schools. Rather, their jobs in the barracks, mentoring sailors, is a full-time one.

Most sailors become NMTIs following their first sea tour. Many are previous work center supervisors or leading petty officers

“They’ll leave here with a leadership tool bag that will take them to the next level back in the fleet and the evals to prove it,” Roux said.

Documented leadership experience can be a real strength when facing a selection board.

Roux said one first class under his charge came to Great Lakes with wonderful evaluations touting his occupational expertise but lacking in the leadership department.

“They were good evals but nothing that would set this sailor apart in front of a chief’s board in the way of leadership experience — he wasn’t in that kind of job,” Roux said. “He’s leaving here with three solid years of leadership-heavy evaluations.”

Roux and Petric are working hard to raise the stature of the NMTI job further within and hope that it will soon be given the same respect selection boards give to RDCs.

When reporting in to the command, all prospective NMTIs attend the three-week Navy Instructor Training Course.

But the Navy recently added a weeklong NMTI academy that gives “a more in-depth instruction of what is expected of them in the barracks, types of situations that may arise, and the specific resources available to them to handle any issues, and how to conduct uniform and room inspections,” Petric said. “Additionally, they receive in-depth training in suicide awareness and prevention, bystander intervention, and sexual assault prevention and response.”

Roux said that “being an NMTI may be the most demanding leadership challenge that you will face in the Navy. If you want a challenge, if you want to improve your leadership skills, and if you want to make a difference in the future of the fleet, you’ll do all that here on a daily basis.”

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