Saturday 01 March 2014

Military training and education improve the capabilities of military personnel in their respective roles and responsibilities. Due to the high degree of readiness required in the military, each individual must be proficient in both technical skills (for equipment) and decision-making skills (for operations on the battlefield); they must also be both physically and mentally fit to accomplish their duties. Training improves technical proficiency and physical fitness; education strengthens decision-making capacity and mental fitness. Quality military education and training ensures continuous improvement and best defense of the nation.

Most militaries match training and education to an individual’s duties. Primary training provides basic information and prepares entry-level personnel to use techniques necessary to be an effective service member. After primary training, many service members undergo advanced training, focused more on assigned specialties. In advanced training, more sophisticated military technology and the use of specialized equipment is often taught. Warfare constantly evolves so military training must be continuous to ensure technical skills remain current.

Military training typically includes two broad categories: common training for all, such as learning to use new communications software, and technical skills training for a focused number of people, such as learning C-17 maintenance techniques. Employing Apache helicopters, Mirage 2000 and F-16E/F aircraft and THAAD missile systems on the modern battlefield requires very sophisticated levels of individual training to ensure people’s skills are of the highest standard.

In a very different way, military education is required to develop doctrine and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) that permit the cohesive employment of units in combat. However, later in a military career, military education also must include more critical thinking-focused education to develop mental agility and the ability to deal with highly uncertain, potentially life-and-death oriented, complex decision-making situations. Advanced military education helps senior-level personnel deal with the uncertainty of modern conflict and to hone the decision-making abilities required to lead effectively during modern operations. An added benefit of such education is relationships developed among senior officers who learn to trust each other and work effectively side-by-side in coalitions due to the insight shared in advanced military schools around the world.

Because of the need for sophisticated strategic thinking skills, many countries, like the UAE, have separate military educational systems, beginning with academies that offer college degrees in a variety of subjects for junior officers. Higher-ranking officers typically have further educational opportunities in their specialties, and later at Staff and then War or Defense Colleges very senior officers develop the habits of mind required to deal with the most complex national security concerns. Along with the United States, Great Britain and China, the UAE is one of only a handful of nations that have had the foresight to create and conduct National Defense College programs to educate the whole of the government concerning international challenges and strategies for enhancing national prosperity.

A Brigadier and a Sergeant in the same command might both be working on common skills training at the same time, but the Brigadier may have only a general idea of the technical skills that his subordinate needs to carry out his specific duties, and the Sergeant may never have to deal with the complex international crises that demands decisions from the Brigadier, but both benefit from a modern system of military education and training. Military education and training programs will add much to the knowledge base of the nation with compulsory national service. Such programs could also serve as a model for a variety of other professional education and training regimens in the knowledge-based society of the future UAE. Regardless, military education and training will always remain crucial strategic enablers for the nation.