There it is. Your 55 gallon drum and sealed on the inside, your survival gear. But here’s the dilemma. The drum is positioned on a small patch of land confined by a barrier, 3 feet in circumference. One of your men is also marooned on that patch of land. Outside of the barrier lays a mine field that stretches 10 feet all around from the edge of the inner barrier. No one dares cross. The risk is too great, however, you managed to scramble a few strong branches and scraps of rope. Your objective is to rescue your man and secure your gear using the meager resources you have. You’ve got about 10 minutes before enemy troops close in on your position. You are the team leader and your men are looking to you for a resolve as their fate lies in your leadership. The good news is that you have a team.
This is just one of many Personal Leadership Tasks (PLT), and even though they may be just scenarios, the feeling of adversity is real and it introduces one to his/her true character. The leader within is forced to emerge.
For the last 2 weeks, thirty three Leading Seamen (or Leading Hands) as they are referred to in the Force participated in a leadership course. This course not only serves as a prerequisite for advancement to the next rate of Petty Officer, but it is designed to define what a true leader is in theory as well as provide participants practical application of the concepts covered with the hopes that they may implement them in their sections, primarily to influence their shipmates to accomplish their assigned in a positive way.
Of course this was no easy 2 weeks as the training environment is very dynamic and almost all courses are designed to take one out of his/her comfort zone. Petty Officers Shamica Duncombe and Andy Deveaux who served as course instructors, as well as other members of the training staff who assisted made sure of this.
“P/O Duncombe’s inspection was thorough and very meticulous.”
-Leading Seaman Rio Knowles
On schedule for the first week, the participants were required to participate in fitness evolutions, parade drill refreshers, detailed inspections of persons, sit in on several presentations and a little bit of range work where they were among the first to use the new shooting range. Also included were a myriad of PLT’s and a 20 mile hike that culminated with a swamp crossing.
A little about the swamp crossing; the thick mud has a foul stench like Sulphur. When you first enter, the temperature of the water is relaxing as your body, heated from the endurance hike submerges in it. However, this is short lived as you realize that after your first few steps, the mud is just below your knees and the water is waist deep depending on the tide. The path is not clear and hidden in the mud are many rocks. For almost 1 mile and roughly about 45 minutes, each participant must endure. Even though the thick muck claimed many of the participant’s boots, they lived their mantra of: “We started together and we’ll finish together.”
Week two begins. Many participants would argue that this week was the worst as many of them would face their biggest fear. Would could possibly shake a Marine that he/she would choke? You’ll find out in a few.
Commodore Tellis Bethel jump started week 2 by giving an energetic and engaging presentation that consisted mostly of anecdotes and personal accounts that lead to his assent to his current position and it blended seamlessly into his key objective, his vision for the Defence Force namely; Operation Decentralization, Transformation, Mobilization and Re-Generation. He also challenged the candidates to discover their heritage that they were contractually obligated to guard and gave a brief history of The Bahamas as the origins or the birthplace of the Americas.
Commodore Bethel skillfully demonstrated his ability to speak publicly by being knowledgeable, charismatic and a dynamic storyteller. Public speaking can cause many to choke. This was the focus of week 2. Participants were given guidelines on the do’s and don’ts of speaking professionally. Participants would make 2 presentations, one seven minutes and the other fifteen. Topics covered were very provocative and randomly selected by participants who had very little time to prepare, experience or knowledge of software applications to effectively present.
The course culminated with a graduation ceremony and in attendance was the Course Design Officer, Lt. Latoya Nottage, Chief Training Instructor Maxwell Lloyd , CPO Quiten Burrows and Kermit Turnquest. Commander Michael Sweeting, the Base Executive Officer gave keynote remarks. He discussed the past, the current state of the force and his optimism for the future as he has worked with many of the course participants in different capacities, and as he is set to exit in a few years, the Force is in good hands.
“Overall, the course was a good experience. I got to interact with a blend of personalities, who functioned quite well as a group. Some persons I knew but not that well. I have a better understanding of them now. The course itself was more mentally challenging than anything else. Being able to complete a task when you have been pushed to extreme limits. It allowed me to self-reflect.”
-Leading Woman Tancia Russell
Participants were awarded with certificates of completion and inscribed were the topics covered and their personal leadership scores as assessed by the course instructors and training staff.
“Motivation Check!” cried out Leading Seaman Antonio Bullard. In typical military style, the participants of Leadership Course 0117 cried out, “Hoorah!”