My Ghana Military Academy training session

Source: By Abena Appiah
Date: 3rd-august-2017 Time:  3:29:59 pm

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Growing up, I did nurse the idea of having some little military training because of the perceived disciplinary actions observed on the training program. Thus, when my company, Zoomlion, selected me for a leadership training at the Ghana Military Academy (GMA) it was a dream come true.

On the 23rd of April 2017, after going through the daunting task of getting the items on the prospectus in less than a week, I found myself being a trainee at the prestigious Ghana Military Academy.

Initially, I had mixed feelings when I arrived and it was due to the numerous information and stories one gets as a civilian about the military and how they conduct their trainings. Little did I know that my training had started right from the time I received the information to go prepare for leadership training at the GMA within such a short period of notice. Fatigue on my mind and body was taking the better of me at the time I got myself ready for camping. But trust the military, right from junction of the venue, to the venue proper, I was sternly interrogated for being late. My eyes got soaked in tears even when my items were inspected. Then came the BFT – Basic Fitness Test. This is all I can remember from my first day at GMA.

Within the first week, I returned to my room each day wondering if I made the right decision or my dream was realistic enough. This was because I was always exhausted from the physical training and activities that we were made to do. At times, I was very angry with myself for accepting to go for the training and would have stopped or refused to go any further if I had a choice. Nevertheless, your guess is as good as mine. What I hated most but enjoyed though was afternoon physical training, which was termed Afternoon Endurance. This was usually right after lunch. The first time we were to embark on that I said to some of my colleagues I will throw up what I took for lunch but like the name of the session, I endured every time.

Notwithstanding these few misgivings, my experience at GMA was one that will go down well in my history. It was exciting most of the time. Not only did I gain firsthand knowledge about the military, my view and horizon about military issues have broadened. My respect for this group of men and women in uniform also increased; simply because they go through such kind of trainings before they are passed out. Be informed that ours was just a fraction of what the proper military trainees go through. A ‘Kumasiano’ will say ‘me tu kye ma mo’. Well done to all military men.

The training centred on Leadership with four main areas: discipline (the reason why I desired for little military training), teamwork, leadership and time management. These were the basis for most, if not all the activities we did. As for physical fitness it is mandatory so every day, sometimes twice (as in afternoon endurance), we participated in some.

On a personal note, I learnt the following:

  1. Cleanliness – working with a waste management company, I will first look at my experience with cleanliness. Almost everybody will agree with me that military environments are usually clean. How do they do this? They clean themselves. They clean when they go to work and keep where they stay too clean.

I recall asking my Course Non-Commissioned Officer if I could get someone to help us clean our bathroom and surroundings and he told me we are to do it ourselves. And truly we cleaned ourselves and our environments till we left. One time, we were punished for not cleaning the classroom.

  1. Think and make decisions on ones feet – an exercise known as Outdoor Leaderless Test was done by teams of 6 and 7 persons.  A challenging situation is given and the team is asked to solve it within a limited time of 25minites. 10minutes to discuss and 15minutes to implement.
  2. Being organised – I always considered myself to be much organised until I went to GMA then I realised I was falling short in this area. In the military one can be called at any point in time, so being organised is key. It prevents one from wasting time searching for one thing or another.
  3. Prioritising and time consciousness - Time is of essence in the military. A second short and your enemy has an advantage over you or takes you captive or gets you killed. In business, a second short and your competitor is ahead of you.
  4. Teamwork – another important feature in military, which I find very good, is teamwork. Not only were we put into syndicates to carry out tasks assigned to us but whenever a team member is unavailable, the whole group is queried and it is further narrowed to the roommate. This is referred to as looking out for each other.
  5. No excuses - in most human institutions, excuses never get anything done. And especially in our part of the world as Ghanaians, I will say that excuses has brought us to where we are now. Despite the numerous resources at our disposal we still find our nation in a deplorable state. At GMA there is nothing as I can’t do it or we will not do it.
  6. Discharging duty appropriately and properly. Here it starts with instructions with a demonstration or observation, then ‘oya’ go. Shoddiness is unacceptable and it is punishable as the instructor deems fit.
  7. Respect for authority superiors and vice versa.

In the military, respect and recognition of superiors is never to be joked with at all. If a junior rank does not pay compliment then he is in trouble o. And this might not be new to all of us. It is normal to be dealt with if one does not show respect to superiors and the elderly.

However, what beats my imagination was how often I heard officers in the military using “please or kindly” to begin sentences requesting lower ranks to do something (officially) for them. First, I was surprised but very impressed. Ask me why?

One phrase I heard quite often about the military was ‘obey before complain’ which connotes respect to authority. My understanding of that was that, you are only being commanded to do things, nothing more or less. In other words, I did not expect officers to be using please, kindly and thank you. Actually, I expect them to be ruthless in asking any lower rank to do anything. But hey! They are human being trained to be soldiers. In addition, they are leaders and must show marks of it.

  1. Living in inconvenience situations. In one of the training activities, we were made to live outside our comfort zone. It was worthwhile. In life, we would one day find ourselves inconvenient. When it happens, we should be able to survive.  
  2. Enduring situations– endurance is a very familiar word in military. Apart from being fit through the physical training that we were exposed to, the next was to help endure. Other activities like annoyance parade is also used to instil endurance in us. Endurance helps one to handle anything thrown at him/her. That is be “mission ready”.

From experience, I have just two recommendations for policy makers – government.

The first is for national service personnel to go through 3 months compulsory military training. I am aware it has been done in the past but for cost it has to be abandoned. At the time it was rolled out, service personnel at the military training were being paid allowances. I will suggest the allowance paid to trainees be used to finance the cost of training. In other words, the allowances for the 3 months is used to pay the training cost (if not all at least majority of the training cost will be covered).

The second is on cleanliness. Everybody in Ghana, whether in his or her homes or at work be made to be clean conscious. Strictly speaking, citizens or persons living in the country should be responsible for the environment he or she finds himself at any point in time. Whether it is selling or being in an office or staying in an area, laws must be enforced to punish perpetrators whenever such places are found not to be clean.  This will go a long way to curb the filth that keeps engulfing our cities and urban centres.

In conclusion, I thank my employer for doing me this great honour of making it possible for me to live my childhood dream. I also appreciate all the trainers and instructors of GMA who in diverse capacities ensured that the leadership program commenced and ended well.


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