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Camp Smith school turns National Guard Soldiers from across northeast into infantrymen


Ten Army National Guard Soldiers from the Northeast who were not infantrymen are now qualified to wear the sky blue cord and crossed rifles of the infantry after completing a three-week reclassification course.

Conducted by the New York Army National Guard’s 106th Regiment Regional Training Institute, the three week class is designed to turn Soldiers with a variety of other military occupational specialties into infantry Soldiers.

Course 18-002 began on Aug. 3, 2018 with 15 candidates and graduated 10 infantrymen on Aug. 17, 2018. Three of the graduates were New York Army National Guard members.

Starting October 2018, the 106th RTI will be one of only six locations where Soldiers can attend the reclassification and other infantry courses.

“It takes a special person to want a chance to become an infantry Solider, to fight for your country and loves ones at home and asking nothing in return,” said staff Sgt. John Dustman, the senior course instructor at the RTI and 25-year combat veteran.

“I don’t expect those who graduate this course to become experts on the infantry, but I expect after what they go through they should have it inside to always try and push through at all times,” said Dustman.

The infantry is an extremely physically demanding occupation and only accepts Soldiers into its reclassification course who request the change and are exceling in their military duties like the Army physical test, marksmanship, and driver’s qualifications.

Some Soldiers, like Spc. Michael Labonte, a motor vehicle operator assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 143rd Infantry Regiment, Rhode Island Army National Guard, are drawn to the physically demanding portion of the job.

“I needed something that would let me be out in the field with my fellow Soldiers,” said Labonte, who is a resident of Smithfield, R.I.  Read more

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Camp Smith school turns National Guard Soldiers from across northeast into infantrymen