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The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces’ (RSLAF) Direct Entry Commissioning Course (DECC) 2020/2021 on Monday 2nd August 2021, commenced a Final Training Exercise (FTX) of their commissioning course code named “Exercise Final Strive.” It was a 5-day live tactical exercise which took place within the Freetown Peninsular general area and covered a distance of 65 – 70km. The aim of the final exercise was to confirm whether the officer cadets have comprehensively grasped the major concepts and practices of the stages of the soldiers’ skills training including command, leadership and management packages. In addition, Exercise Final Strive was designed to test the officer cadets’ physical stamina, critical thinking and timely decision making skills.

The first day of the exercise was characterized by advance to contact from Hastings, Benguema Barracks football field on to John Obey. Colonel GM Bangura, Commandant of the Peace Mission Training Center (PMTC) affirmed that, the 60 officer cadets have gone through a full package of basic officer cadet training and “want to see how they will execute real battle scenarios and cumulate all that has been taught to them in order to bring to life in the exercise.” Colonel Bangura also made it clear that any officer cadet who fails to complete the exercise will be disqualified, hence will not be commissioned as an officer in the RSLAF..

Day Three (3) of the exercise was the jungle operational phase, in which the officer cadets had left civilization behind and made their way to the primary jungle of Guma Dam. During this phase, the ability of the trainees to survive and operate in a jungle environment was intensely scrutinized through exercises like Close Target Reconnaissance (CTRs), observational post drills, operations skills tests, planning and executing raids, among others. By the end of this phase, the officer cadets could almost see the finished line and the training Instructors were suitably impressed with their performances. According to the Chief Instructor PMTC Major OG Samura, the process of transforming civilians and soldiers to officers have been a very big task for them, stating that “officers think critically because their actions have far reaching consequences.” He further cited that, some key characteristics of an officer which they as Instructors worked hard to instill in them were integrity, loyalty and passion for their work.

Finally, on day Five (5) the officer cadets conducted a dawn attack on an enemy camp under the watchful eyes of the Commander Joint Force (CJF), Assistant Chief of Defence Staff Training and Doctrine, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff Personnel and Military Secretary, Commander Joint Medical Unit and other senior RSLAF officers. The tactics, procedures and techniques used by the officer cadets during the attack were scrutinized and the knowledge of their drills commended. At the end of the exercise, the CJF Major General PK Lavahun declared the attack a success and was highly impressed with the level of determination and courage exhibited by the officer cadets and their training Instructors. With the final exercise completed, the officer cadets displayed very high morale and spirit bursting into victory songs, to the amazement of all Commanders present. Their look forward therefore, is the Commissioning Ceremony or Passing Out Parade (POP) slated for early September 2021.

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