The military as a whole has always had training lectures on a variety of topics. From sexual harassment to financial counseling, and even trip planning lessons, the topics covered by General Military Training (GMTs) were rather…diverse. At some point, before I joined, the military had started incorporating these lessons into online courses on a now defunct system formerly called Navy Knowledge Online (NKO). Every year, GMTs had to be completed during a specific month and logged in the sailor’s training jacket. Furthermore, the cycle restarted every fiscal year and the lessons didn’t change much; as such sailors eventually would memorize the answers. But, as anyone who’s ever heard the phrase “death by Power Point” will tell you; GMTs are ineffective, impersonal, and overall a waste of time. Thankfully the military leadership has started taking note of this and is making steps towards more interpersonal training measures.
Perhaps it was due to the change in structure, as the new Chief of Naval operations took over or maybe it was the voices of sailors everywhere finally being heard that changed the course of training. But, for whatever reason, the Navy has started incorporating more interactive training with leadership being actively involved in the training. This is a breath of fresh air and a much-needed change from the old style of constant clicking towards the next slide. A few of these training lectures didn’t even contain tests or cared if you skipped the questions.
Sailors could finish a lesson in literally less than ten minutes while simultaneously not learning anything. This factor became hilariously exploitable when the certificates could be used towards education points on evaluations. Needless to say, more than a few sailors were having their spouses sit at home and complete courses for them all day. Scoring points for their husbands while they worked out on the flight decks and helping them achieve their promotion goals. While it was a nice way for the spouses to become involved in the careers of their husbands it was rather unfair for single sailors and eventually it all came to an end.
The practice was ended after the khaki leadership noticed the exploit and only allowed certain courses valid under the evaluation system. Still, these events happened long before I came into the Navy, and I only heard stories as I became entangled with the training program. Curiously, even though the GMT system was easily exploitable, and the Navy has started moving away from it; death by Power Point is still too common. Understandably, the ease of access is probably a key factor in keeping the GMT’s online a bit longer, but it doesn’t fix the problem of sailors not learning anything. Sailors and much fewer people are not automatons. They will easily tune out lessons after their attention span has melted into the pit of despair created from the never ending clicking/waiting. Especially, after the sailor has completed the same lesson multiple times throughout their entire career.
It’s time for the military to step up their training game. People will always react better to training when it’s applicable to their day to day lives. On average a person has an attention span of 15 minutes, but if you mix up the training with humor (without disrespecting the seriousness of the subject at hand), visual displays, and other elements they will remain attentive for longer periods. This will ensure the training sticks with the troops for a far longer time, and make training much more impactful. At times the military wonders why troops get into trouble despite all the training provided. Yet, the same leadership fails to realize that the training is ineffective. It doesn’t matter how many times you beat a training into a servicemen’s head if it’s not applicable to their lives they will just ignore it. Humans are social creatures which is why interaction, understanding, and empathy will be bigger tools of training than any amount of Power Point presentations in a computer monitor.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.