There comes a point in our lives when we stop and realize that each day that passes is rife with lessons. Life is educating some of us the hard way. Others have an easier time. The lessons start in childhood. Infants learn to walk by falling constantly. To master walking, they have to keep doing it over and over even if they get hurt. A small dose of loving assistance from parents does not hurt. It encourages them to continue trying.
As we grow older, the educational structure becomes more formal. We found ourselves falling under the guidance of professional teachers in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school. Most of us still remember with fondness our favorite elementary or high school teachers.
They were our rock that made the passage through school unforgettable, bearable and fun. Yet, we are constantly reminded of our petty quarrels with friends, the heartbreaks, heartaches, and the wrong decisions we made along the way. We learned, by experiencing it, to distinguish the good from the bad. Through a flood of tears of joy or pain, we learned.
Who can forget one’s college and university days? The time when we judged ourselves to be mature enough to forge on with life and make a mark for ourselves. As we hark back on the good old days, we recall with gratitude the mentors we had who kept us on the straight and narrow path. Without mentors, there would be no bridges to cross.
Assignments in the US Navy became stepping stones towards the presidency of 6 US presidents starting with John F. Kennedy in 1961 to George H.W. Bush in 1989. The US Navy is known to develop men of strong character and moral fiber because of its emphasis on training, education, and mentorship. Kennedy served as a lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II. His Patrol Torpedo Boat 109 was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. Kennedy acknowledged that the brush with death shaped him to become the man he was destined to be. His heroism, when he rescued 11 of his crew, earned him a Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart. More importantly, his actions endeared him to a generation of Americans.
Service in the US Navy was also the hallmark of the military career of the 38th US President and University of Michigan college football star, Gerald Ford Jr. Fresh from his graduation from the law school of Yale University, he enlisted in the US Navy after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Gerald Ford served onboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey in various capacities as antiaircraft battery officer, assistant navigator, and Athletic officer. Attaining the highly-coveted rank of lieutenant commander upon his discharge from active service in 1946, Gerald Ford Jr. was awarded numerous commendations for his stint in the war such as the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic-American Campaign Medal with one silver star and four bronze stars, the American Campaign Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two bronze stars.
George H.W. Bush enlisted as a US Navy torpedo bomber pilot and held the rank of Lieutenant. With his plane on fire after being hit by a Japanese anti-aircraft barrage, Bush made it back after 4 hours of floating at sea. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery.
China has edged ahead of the US in a seemingly one-sided race to have the largest number of battleships and submarines as of the end of 2020. With a fleet of 360 ships against the US’s 297, the Chinese have started to widen the gap. The lead is expected to stretch some with the prolific Chinese naval ship industry projected to increase its fleet to 425 in 2030. With threats looming everywhere from the South China Sea to the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait otherwise known as the Gate of Tears in Yemen, the US Navy relies on its 11 aircraft carriers to carry the day for the US Sailors when an armed conflict arises. Each aircraft carrier carries an average of 5,000 personnel at any given time during deployment. It is no wonder that the US Navy has put so much importance on training, education, and mentorship (TEAM) for all naval personnel onboard its aircraft carriers. TEAM is the glue that binds people of different inclinations together to follow the US Navy’s chain of command.
Towards this end, the US Navy conducts training exercises with the armed forces of allied countries and countless freedom of navigation sorties in disputed maritime areas. It is on top of the US Navy’s regular training and drills. The drills and exercises keep the naval and air force personnel on their toes and enhance coordination. When an actual war scenario breaks out, the US naval and air personnel will be fighting like a well-oiled machine.
Training is a means to an end. The US military, for example, strives for perfection in the training of its troops to help it achieve victory in times of war or need and reduce casualties. The constantly evolving face of warfare demands training all year round to bring its personnel up to speed. Live, constructive, virtual, and gaming training simulations are employed to impress on the individual real-life combat situations and how to properly react to them. The US Navy alone trains about 40,000 recruits every year at its training camp at Great Lakes Naval Station in Lake Michigan, Illinois. The Initial Entry Training Program inculcates the basic skills needed by a recruit and assimilates him to the culture of the military service. From being individualistic at the start, the recruit is being prepared to work within the confines and discipline of a group.
In other areas of life, the same principles of training apply. In the academe, each subject has individual and group work components that a student must successfully hurdle to get a passing mark. School graduation enables one to get employment or run a business. When one is employed or managing a business, further training is geared towards improving a trainee’s capability and skill for him to work seamlessly with his assigned department and other units in the organization. The goal is to maximize the employee’s contribution to the company’s bottom line. Continuous training of personnel guarantees a company’s survival in a highly competitive business environment.