Resilient leaders train to fight

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Patrick Czakilew (author)

Location(s): Jervis Bay

Topic(s): Sport, Training

Midshipman Jure Plestina is abseiling while belayed by MIDN Anna Hutchinson. (photo: Unknown)
Midshipman Jure Plestina is abseiling while belayed by MIDN Anna Hutchinson.

Naval officers are taught to lead in times of peace and war – but how exactly? Building on their natural aptitude and drive, trainees are put through a range of physical and mental tests to prepare them for military life in charge.
Instructors at the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell, put Navy’s future commanders through challenges to build resilience and leadership qualities.
Participants in the five-month residential New Entry Officers’ Course learn both the theory and practical application of leadership and management, trialling techniques in the training environment.

One hands on activity is through adventure training, where members undertake physically and mentally challenging high pressure activities such as hiking, rock climbing and abseiling.
On 8 May, 12 trainees, under the guidance of instructor Lieutenant Shane Wallace, travelled to Thompson’s Point, Nowra, for a day of abseiling, outdoor rock climbing and finally a thrilling 50 metre forward facing abseil rappelling experience.
Thompson’s Point is one of southern New South Wales most popular locations for rock climbing due to its challenging cliff faces and rock formations.
Located south of Nowra near the College in Jervis Bay, the new officers were able to take advantage of the local landscape.
“Pushing many well out of their comfort zones, the high level of perceived threat can stimulate an adrenaline rush that forces the individual to quickly adapt to the situation,” Lieutenant Wallace said.
“Coping strategies, based on prior technical training, allow for individuals to make calculated and measured decisions in order to safely and effectively accomplish tasks.”
Leadership in a military environment can involve high pressure decision-making which as a practiced skill, can enable calm and considered outcomes rather than simple reaction through emotion.
“The experience allowed the New Entry Officers to develop this ability, which is part of ongoing resilience training for all Navy members.”
Chief of Navy released a ‘Resilience Plan’ to support the development of personnel who are self aware and able to adapt under mental, moral, physical and external stressors and in the face of risk and adversity.
Midshipman David Vallance, an aspiring Maritime Warfare Officer, said the activity was not only fun and exciting, but also challenged his ability to ‘switch on’ despite the nerves.
“I believe this will help me focus in my future career when faced with stressful situations,” he said.
“ I really had a sense of accomplishment and many of us commented what an exciting experience it was to have so early in our Navy careers.”