Professionalism Breeds Respect: The Case Of The New Army

Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

While growing up as a child in the Borough of Kru Town, my late grandmother, who reared and bred me in my early age, always said, “In whatever you do, always try for people to respect you.” When I asked to explain what she meant, my late grandmother would say, “Good name is better than riches.” With that, I could not still comprehend what she was driving at. Visibly noticing that I was in a state of confusion over what she had said the old lady simply said, “In this life always known people are watching and observing what you are doing. And so when you are doing anything, do it the right way so that they will respect you. Always try for respect, because with respect, you get good name and people will trust you and always rely on you. They will even call you whenever there is a need and that your good name will make them to always follow you example; if you are working anywhere, always do the things the office says you must do.”

From my tender age to present, whenever I reflect on these pieces of advice by my late grandmother, especially so when mentioned of office, I always link it to professionalism because professionalism in every calling teaches ones the dos and don’ts of that profession. It is by being professional that one commands the respect of the public or place of work. Professionalism is defined by the Webster’s dictionary as the conduct, aims or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.” Furthermore, experts believe that there are five important keys to being a professional. They are character, attitude, excellence, competency and conduct. Hence, it is from these five that one can be characterized as a professional person.

I try to bring about the issue of professionalism because it is by the way people behave and act in a given profession that others can be encouraged to venture into. It is not always the issue of money. Sometimes ago, I wrote a piece about why people feel proud to wear military uniforms as fashion clothes. At the time, I said that I share the concern of those who fear that some individuals might use the uniform to impersonate but again, if the men and women in the military outfits were not behaving properly, no one will be proud to be clad in military uniform.

Again, yesterday, the level of professionalism being exhibited by the new Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) was visible at the Barclay Training Center (BTC), as hundreds of young men and women gathered there for the new recruitment exercise to beef up strengthen the new army. The exercise started few days ago in the southeast and is continuing.

Actually, as I was approaching the former barrack on the U.N. Drive, I was in a state of trepidation when I saw a group of people, which I thought  was another gathering of protesters, something that has become commonplace these days. But by seeing the men and women armed with yellow folders, which I know contained documents for the exercise, I intuitively surmised that it was the recruitment exercise announced by the Ministry of National Defense. Truly to my deduction, I gathered that indeed, these were men and women who are interested in being recruited into the new army. I was filled with happiness to see the crowd of people, some of whom were at the barrack while the others were at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) to join the new army.

As I look on, one thing that came to mind was the level of professionalism being exhibited by those presently in the army. Naturally, if those in the new army were not exhibiting the FIVE KEYS of professionalism which are character, attitude, excellence, competency and conduct, obviously this would have cast a dark cloud over the military, thus discouraging others from following.

Frankly, I should not be misconstrued as suggesting that there might not be some individuals in the military who will not deviate from the generally acceptable norms and values of the military. One thing I know and have observed is that those who have knowingly flouted some of the rules have been punished by the Ministry, to serve as a deterrent to others. All of these help to build the level of professional, respect and reputation for any organization. But to allow business as usual, will always undermine respect, reputation and pride. If the authorities of Defense had encouraged impunity in the military, such gigantic throng of person since the exercise started few weeks ago, would not have turned out.

As the morale of the military remains high, one thing that is necessary in these exercises is for the same rules and procedures that led to the first recruitment exercises to be followed. Let the merit system be the order of the day; there should be no room for nepotism, favoritism and mediocrity. The ball is now in the court of the Ministry of Defense to make sure that the rules and procedures are fully adhered to.  We have now crossed the Rubicon; there is no turning back so the public should feel free as before.

Lastly, I say ‘kudos’ to the military for the level of professionalism they continue to exhibit for which they are respected. To them I say, “Don’t behave like white chicken.” I hope I did not have a planned trip to see this exercise. But I will still monitor it afar, as I am a lover of the military, but my age and strength are impediments to my desire to be recruited to this professional body. Now, I certainly agree with my late grandmother about “good name.”

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