RTC Great Lakes has a shortage of RDCs. The command needs more high-shooting Sailors, like Chisholm, to apply for the job and help turn civilians into Sailors. It’s not easy duty, and not everyone can do it. The hours are long, and the mission is a non-stop challenge, but the rewards are the kind you won’t find anywhere else in the Fleet. Leading a 90-person division looks great on a performance evaluation (eval), and RTC has the above-average advancement rates to prove it. It’s also a great way to pick up leadership and organizational skills, but beyond the professional rewards, even the hardest RDCs will admit their favorite part of the job is watching a division graduate and knowing, “I made those Sailors.”
Definitely what I enjoy most is seeing the change in the recruits,” Chisholm says. “You can’t describe seeing somebody that came here off the bus, seeing what they were like, and then seeing them eight weeks later when they leave here.”
Before a Sailor can watch his first division graduate, and before he can even don the RDC “red rope” on his shoulder, he has to get through RDC “C” School. Just to get orders to the “C” school, Sailors have to go through a detailing screening process that disqualifies three out of every five applicants. Once a Sailor makes it to the school, he becomes a “blue rope,” named for the braided blue rope the RDC “C” School students wear on the left shoulder of their uniforms.
RDC “C” School is no joke. One out of every four students washes out of the course and never earns his red rope. The “C” school is a 13-week course that teaches Sailors the kind of attention to detail they’ll need as RDCs, and it has a PT program that makes sure they’re in the kind of shape they’ll have to be in to run with 18-year-old recruits. The PT program is the main reason for the school’s high attrition rate. Blue ropes do a lot of running, and Sailors who aren’t prepared for that can end up broken.
The whole course is kind of like boot camp for senior Sailors. The blue ropes stand meticulous uniform inspections where the instructors use rulers to measure the distance between the top of a pocket and the bottom of a ribbon rack, and at the physical training (PT) sessions it isn’t uncommon to see chiefs and 1st classes getting yelled at for lagging behind in a run or practicing bad form on an exercise.