By David Crozier, Command Communications
When international militaries seek to improve the education of their enlisted forces they look no further than the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. Acknowledged by military and civilian organizations as the world’s premier institution for the education of noncommissioned officers USASMA routinely hosts visits from militaries the world over who wish to emulate its educational competency.
In November USASMA welcomed Lt. Col. Charles Ogamanya, Chief Instructor and Master Warrant Officer Musa Abubakar, an instructor at the Nigerian Warrant Officer Academy for three days of familiarization and discussions about the way the U.S. Army trains its enlisted Soldiers. Assisting the Nigerians during their stay were Michael Roth and Rickey Taylor of USASMA’s curriculum development department.
“Our purpose was to go over their curriculum with them and to try and align them with our curriculum to help train their Master Warrant Officers,” Taylor said.
Ogamanya explained that one of the reasons they are looking to USASMA for help is because they realize the need to improve the quality of their enlisted training to help them fill the gaps in leadership they need in the fight against Boko Haram, Nigeria’s militant Islamic group.
“[We need] to maintain the leadership cap we lost by our involvement with our fight against Boko Haram. It became very obvious that we needed to do some serious homework in that part of the academy to better the training for the NCOs,” he said. “We need help in repackaging and reviewing our own curriculum.”
Ogamanya said they also liked the way the U.S. Army trains and educates it soldiers using a tiered system – from Basic Leader Course to the Sergeants Major Course – and would like to introduce a similar system in Nigerian Army.
“We came to USASMA to update our own curriculum and to learn more about how we train NCOs,” he said. “We feel that just focusing on what we have been doing in past years may not be really the best way of doing things. We need to look outward and see what other countries are doing.”
Roth explained that for the Nigerians to emulate the U.S. Army’s process of enlisted education it would require a lengthy process.
“What we are giving them is a long-term vision of our system and hopefully make them understand that to establish a Basic Leader Course is a decades-long process,” he said. “They are going to have to set up infrastructure, facilities, computers and more – something they do not have now.”
Abubakar believes it is something they need to do.
“What I see is how you conduct your training is quite different from ours. When we get back we are going to try and input the method of instruction,” Abubakar said. “[I’m] impressed with the NCO Academy. You must pass the NCO Academy before you can come to the sergeants major academy. In our Army it is not like that. I would try to also sell the idea that we can also create a junior NCO academy. Create that form of effective training.”
Ogamanya said they were looking for a lot from visiting USASMA.
“In our academy the instructors are drawn from good soldiers and officers whose experience is only on the job, and only instruct on their job from their proficiency,” he said. “But we are now thinking of having our instructors come from a life-long learning background with NCO education at various levels. It is very essential. I am not saying that we don’t have good instructors, but it will add to their ability to instruct.”
While at the USASMA, Taylor said that he and Roth went over all of their lessons with them and showed them how to make them sequential as well as the Academy’s instructor training programs. The pair also gave the Nigerians copies of USASMA’s lesson plans and showed them the Basic Leader Course and what should be taught at each level of NCO education. Following their discussions on course materials, both Ogamanya and Abubakar were allowed to sit in during a class of the Sergeants Major Course to observe training styles and classroom dynamics.
“This has been a very good thing,” Ogamanya said. “We will take what we learned and try and tailor it to our culture and way of doing things in Nigerian Army.”