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Reviving Esprit De Corps in the Ghana Armed Forces: a Young Officer’s Perspective

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A cross the world, effective combat performance be any armed forces requires not only weapons, equipment and tactics but also the cohesiveness of troops. Fighting units such as the Crusades, Imperial Japanese Army and Revolutionary Iran Forces provide examples where soldiers fought because of a strong belief in the rightness of their country’s cause, and a high level of esprit de corps. Esprit de corps” is one of the most interesting of phenomena for any observer of contemporary life. In the midst of the disintegration of so many moral and social influences it has maintained a certain hold on people’s consciousness and manifests itself in important ways. For greater precision it would be appropriate to distinguish two meanings of this expression, “esprit de corps”: a broad and a narrow sense. In a narrow sense esprit de corps is a spirit of solidarity animating all members of a same professional group. In a broader sense the expression esprit de corps designates the spirit of solidarity in general, not only in the professional group, but in all those social circles, whatever they might be (class, caste, sect, etc.), in which the individual feels himself to be more or less subordinated to the interests of the collectivity (George palante 1899).

Esprit de corps is the selfless and often enthusiastic and jealous devotion of the members of a group to the group or to its purposes. The term is generally understood to mean the promotion of team spirit to build harmony, cohesion and unity within an organization. Esprit de corps is a French term which translates into ‘group spirit’ capable of provoking a feeling of belongingness among those in the group such that each of them contributes to the achievement of the organisational goal. This sense of togetherness helps the employees to perform with greater efficiency and positive attitude towards the work. But then, it has to be recognized that the concept has its positive and negative sides. While it develops a feeling of belongingness among workers and propels each of them to perform well, there is the necessary consequence of losing all the listed positive features on account of any violation of the principle of esprit de corps.

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The term esprit de corps with teamwork, which is defined as a cooperative process that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results. This viewpoint is informed by the belief that if members of a group can generate sufficient esprit de corps to identify with and believe in the operation of the group, then there is a cycle in which the individuals within the group can potentially be better motivated to perform the assigned functions even well beyond expectation.

2. In the Army, there is nothing like “individual competition” but it’s all about building up a team. If a senior cadet passes out in any physical or academic task and if his junior fails, the cadet is failed too. He is directly responsible for performance of his junior in the team. There is no “rat race” of individual higher percentage over the others. That does not mean that there is no competition. The healthy competition is amongst “teams” and not amongst “individuals” for the same target. Thus, teamwork has the most core value in the military.

Without the esprit de corps young officers in the military cannot succeed in its tasks. If army individuals choose to act by themselves in their personal interest, they cannot even complete their basic tasks. The whole army can turn undisciplined eventually losing all the fronts of war and get kicked in the ass by the enemies. It is this esprit de corps that will enable an individual endure the physical, mental and emotional strain in order to justify his/her inclusion in a group.

If there is one thing that lacks in any military unit for which the commander will give up everything in order to attain, then we are talking about ‘esprit de corps’. The reasons are enormous, for instance, it is this spirit that makes the “one foot on ground’ principle as taught in basic Tactics relevant. This principle requires that when in action, a soldier only moves under the cover of fire provided by his buddy, Additionally, the same feeling of belonging to a unit and willing to go the extra mile for the fraternity (unit), will let a soldier charge into enemy fire regardless of the consequence. Hence, for these reasons and many others, solidarity, high morale and the pride of belonging to a unit will always be ensured by unit Commanders at all levels.

The relevance of esprit de corps in military circles cannot be downplayed. As mentioned above, the term is applicable to most organizations with a common goal and purpose; however, it is a major determinant of the existence of any military unit. For this reason it is often said that the term applied particularly to the military is esprit de corps and it plays a very important role in the military.

3. Since the late 1950s, there has been significant assertions that esprit de corps is the reason why soldiers fight successfully. This belief could be attributed to the bond that existed in many African military units that led to several coup coup d’état on the Continent. Like other African States Ghana witnessed several coup d’état between 1966 and 1979. All these coups were spearheaded by the Ghana Armed Forces(GAF). It is believed that during the period of the coups GAF units led high levels of esprit de corps cohesion and morale (Winkler, J. D. 2008).

4. In GAF esprit de corps has contributed a lot of benefit which the army is concentrated, increase in productivity whichever way you look at it, well applied, esprit de corps is a pump to raise the team’s performance to notably. This allows you to distribute tasks so that each person takes care of the tasks for which he or she is better qualified for to bring about efficiency. Also esprit de corps will give more pleasant for troops to enjoy the work been giving to them to perform with satisfaction since teamwork makes the task easier, hence without esprit de corps in the GAF there will be no unity in the service in achieving a task so therefore there is the need for esprit de corps to be maintained in GAF.

The purpose of this paper is therefore to discuss the ways of reviving of esprit de corps in the GAF with the view of making recommendations.

AIM

5. The aim of this paper is to discuss ways of reviving of esprit de corps in the GAF with a view of making recommendations.

OVERVIEW OF ESPRIT DE CORPS IN THE ARMY

6. The term morale is one of the aspect in which the esprit de corps can be revived. It appeared in an ever-growing number of contexts, industrial, educational, and medical as well as military. Unfortunately, the term seems to have sharply different meanings in each of these contexts. In more recent applications it often seems to refer primarily to a person’s sense of well-being, happiness, and job or life satisfaction. In view of these morale in GAF is always seem to be positive yielding lots of result in the Army and the Army cannot do without morale. Cohesion also plays an important role in the GAF, the group solidarity for effective military performance has been a staple of military doctrine for 2500 years. For most of this time it has been reflected in the elevation of close-order drill to near sacramental status, that is, physical unity was the explicit goal in GAF. As weaponry improved to the point where time-honored battle formations like the phalanx, the infantry square, and the line had to give way to dispersion, cover and concealment, the need for psychological unity became more apparent. DuPicq called this psychological unity moral cohesion and claimed that “As the ranks become more open, and the material cohesion of the ranks not giving confidence, it must spring from a knowledge of comrades, and a trust in officers.”

7. Military loyalty is commitment and trust raised to the highest echelon. It is one of the cornerstones of military service and successful operations are dependent upon military operational loyalty. Commitment starts with the agreement to serve, pledged in the Oath of Office. Immediately thereafter, service members establish bonds of trust amongst each other as they formulate a group identity during basic training, where a service member competing loyalties are suppressed through socialization techniques. This is a necessary component for loyalty but it is essential for military loyalty (Connor, James M. 2010).

HOW TO REVIVED ‘ESPRIT DE CORPS’ IN THE ARMY

8. Esprit de corps is vital in GAF in view of these there will be the need for troops to embrace it in all endeavors. Some of the policies that could revive esprit de corps include create and focus on single and common goal, led by example, support each other and maintain good communication.

9. Create and focus on a single and common goal. Keeping the team focused on a mission makes each team player concentrated on how to achieve the goal and refrain from dwelling on unimportant matters. In the military getting ready with action plans for those who are losing focus and motivation creates an easy way to get them back on track.

10. Lead by example. There is no better way to demonstrate ethical values, commitment, and teamwork but by showing them yourself. A leader can promote the service core values by showing how seriously it matters, then in following the same values and procedures comes uniformity and solidarity. Example a commander leading troops to combat with a lot of experience and confidence will make men trust and follow you to war. In GAF it will be right for a young officer to do what is right for the men to follow step.

11. Support each other. Show more support especially during adversity. Being supportive, builds connection which motivates someone to get more involved and promotes better productivity. Example will be on the drill square where a commander leading the men will always need their support to make good drill.

12. Maintain good communication. Take advantage of the different communication platforms to ensure that everyone in the service is well-informed. We know that misunderstandings frequently stem from miscommunication, thus delivering a clear common purpose and making sure that everyone is on the same boat promotes unity and progress. Hence, before getting excited about the fruits of the hard work, make sure the service has built the spirit of esprit de corps so it can stand the challenges and test of time. It is more enjoyable to celebrate your success together with people who are devoted and loyal to a common goal.

EFFECT OF ESPRIT DE CORP IN MILITARY OPERATIONS

13. Esprit de corps play a significant role in the Army in the development of professionalism in the force. These esprit de corps makes the Army even stronger when all become one in the sense of building strong unity. The above policy will elaborate on the effect of esprit de corps.

14. Military tasks will eventually determine the use of troops and force in a certain time and place. The use of a military organization in operations is a deadly serious business, because of its violent potential and its destructive power to the human body and mind as well as to entire organizations. Military history is full of evidence of situations where a party has found itself unable to continue the battle or may even have drifted into a state of imbalance and faced total destruction. The battle of Cannae is perhaps the most famous historical battle of this kind – the entire Roman army was destroyed in only one single battle. On this occasion, like in so many similar episodes, the qualitative or quantitative differences between the parties were not evident, and thus no one could foresee the outcome of the events on the eve of the battle.

15. There are always explanations for misfortunes in war, but they are usually based on analyzing the physical lines of the operations and seldom on the actual psychological effects that these lines of operations caused to the battle performance of the troops. Esprit de Corp might be understood as referring to the “shared commitment among members for achieving a goal that requires the collective efforts of the group”. These collective efforts will be tested during reciprocal action, but an even more crucial test will be faced when the troops are maneuvering in the theater of war, as this will inevitably influence the troops. The tolerance of the troops is, naturally, based on their battle experience, as suggested earlier in this article. In this article, it does not make sense to explain all these mysterious “terrains” but to focus on two of them due to their current relevance, namely, surrounded and encumbered terrain.

FACTORS PROMOTING ESPRIT DE CORP IN THE ARMY

16. While physical fitness is a necessary aspect of the military, Esprit de Corp in the military is as important. It is essential that all military service members for that matter officers speak in one voice and have a unified vision and approach for the success of the troop. There are several factors that promote the spirit within the Armed Forces which includes respect for contribution and camaraderie through the team.

17. Respect for contribution. What each officer brings to his team is a set of skills and strengths coordinated for maximum results. It’s like an orchestra. Remove one instrument and the sound is off. Remove a soldier and the team is crippled by the absence of her contribution. In our teams we must know and understand what and how each person contributes his skills and strengths. This is how we build respect for our team members.

18. Camaraderie through the team. The fight to live must be a shared outcome and is fueled by the camaraderie amongst soldiers. Imagine a palpable connection between you and your team mates. Imagine going to bat for them in their time of need. Imagine them standing in for you when you need someone. Imagine a single team identity that is upheld by the beliefs and actions of every person on the team.

FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE ESPRIT DE CORP IN THE ARMY

19. The esprit de corps has a wide significant role in influencing performance either positively or negatively in the Army which in includes multicultural, development of troops, lack of accommodation and tribalism.

20. Multicultural. There are many components of culture that can influence team in the military. First, culture has become a critical issue in military teams. The joint operations that combine all unit in the military have become even more prevalent and the need to develop strategies to prevent the unnecessary loss of life and friendly fire incidents. Bringing together individuals from different cultures has become the norm for much of the military, these teams are not without their own problems. Indeed, multicultural teams whose team members have diverse values and beliefs based on their own cultures tend to have cooperation issues, communication problems, conflict issues, and issues with team performance.

21. Deployment of troops. The prevalence of technology and the increasing deployment of troops in the military is also an issue in need of additional research. Deployment has become commonplace in military operations, and it is the focus of a growing body of academic research across multiple disciplines. Deployment of troops is an important factor in the military functioning as it can change how troops interact. It has been shown that full deployment can have constraining effects on collaboration and its relevant affective, behavioral, and cognitive components, such as trust, information exchange, and communication.

22. Lack of Accommodation. Accommodation for troops in the Army is one the key challenge that influence Esprit de corps in the military. It’s provide a strong unity among the troops. In the absent of these accommodations most of the troops in the Army are compare to stay outside the military camp which does not help promote unity among them. Team members often work together when they are united.

23. Tribalism. Tribalism may also refer to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group. This affect the development in the unity with the Armed Force. When there is tribalism troops may begin to identify their members within which collapse the unity build with the military.

ATTRIBUTES OF ESPRIT DE CORP

24. Teamwork is defined as a cooperative process that allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results”. A team has a common goal or purpose where team members can develop effective, mutual relationships to achieve team goals. Esprit de Corp replies upon individuals working together in a cooperative environment to achieve common team goals through sharing knowledge and skills. Successful teamwork relies upon synergism existing between all team members creating an environment where they are all willing to contribute and participate in order to promote and nurture a positive, effective team environment. Team members must be flexible enough to adapt to cooperative working environments where goals are achieved through collaboration and social interdependence rather than individualised, competitive goals.

CONCLUSIONS

25. Confidence in the ability and willingness of peers and leaders to protect in combat and a feeling of obligation to do the same for them are the heart of unit cohesion. Military activities, field exercises especially, provide opportunities to observe the abilities of one’s unit, but other shared experiences, including the purely recreational, can confirm for the soldier that his comrades are willing to stick by him. A perception that the group is short on either ability or willingness puts the soldier at risk to become a stress casualty.

26. When soldiers’ loyalties and confidence go beyond their immediate work group, we speak of their esprit de corps. This impersonal sort of bonding is important because combat means casualties, and if the will to push on depends solely on personal loyalties, it will wither as casualties mount.

To the extent that small unit leaders are seen as typical of the larger organization some of the confidence and loyalty they generate will accrue to the organization as well. However, most armies have made deliberate efforts to instill loyalty to a secondary group large enough that its members do not all know each other, but small enough that all can share a body of distinctive experiences. This is the best example. By extending this network of mutual obligation in which the soldier functions, his morale can withstand better the loss of close friends because replacements are already in the network. The military mental health professional must form a strong partnership with unit leaders in maximizing these elusive qualities well before the first battle or soldiers will pay the price in combat casualties.

RECOMMENDATIONS

27. The Review has advanced the following recommendations:

a. Given the importance of teamwork and the human dimensions, the Ghana Armed forces

operation system should be reviewed to include more reference of this dimension so that the preparedness and potential effectiveness of the modern Army is accurately and more completed reflected in the results.

b. The Ghana Armed Forces should ensure that uniforms of the troops are provided with the same color which will help improve togetherness among them.

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