The question: “Is a long list of military credentials and qualifications required to be a good NPT trainer?”
Short answer: No.
It helps, but isn’t essential in learning to be part of or to train a NPT. Credentials, for as far as they go, are fine, and give a good indication to observers what the possessor who was formally trained and evaluated in certain skill sets should be able to competently perform or teach.
In the corporate world, credentials typically provide confidence to people wishing to employ a person for a particular position or to study a particular skill set under that person in order to increase individual skill or knowledge.
When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t really matter whether it’s a college or martial arts degree, a .mil qualification badge, tab, or medal, or a technical skill certification or certain initials following a name in a signature block, the bottom line is that credentials are only an indicator, not a guarantee, that the person holding them can perform the skills or pass along the information in a manner consistent with adult learning requirements when teaching. The proof in the puddin’, so to speak, is what the trainer does with the people he’s teaching and how well they absorb and retain the information. Too many times people believe, for instance, that a ‘hot shot’ fighter pilot rated as an, “Ace” (5 enemy aircraft shot down) will be a great instructor pilot or a unit commander. Unfortunately, in many cases, it turns out just the opposite: the ‘Ace’ is a lousy instructor or unit commander, because they lack in critical areas of leadership and training expertise.
Good instructors, meaning instructors who constantly work and study to provide their students with the best information or process for skill performance possible and also answer the ever present question of, ‘why?’, sometimes fall under the jaundiced eye of people or persons who, for whatever reason, find fault with the presentation or instructor. Usually, this is a style versus substance conflict, but sometimes can be substantive in nature. In the substantive case, when professionally presented (such as not during an active class and with the object of increasing the erring instructor’s knowledge and capability rather than being destructive to the reputation of the instructor or the class being conducted), a lot of good can come out of an objective critique, because good instructors, when presented with information such as described, will change course material to reflect the new and better information or process. Other times (and more rarely), the derogatory statements or critique stems from professional jealousy or prejudicial refusal to acknowledge the credentials of the instructor because of parochialism or a lack of knowledge of the organization that provided the initial credentials. In short, it’s unprofessional behavior, and has no value in the NPT training world.
There’s a few things you can do, though, when you believe your training ability is challenged. The advice comes from a man named Rick F. Tscherne, aka, “Ranger Rick,” who wrote a series of pamphlets called, “The Ranger Digest” (available on amazon, here, for those interested) popular during my last few years on active duty. When it comes to performing in front of, or around, or under the watchful, jaundiced eyes of those who are hoping you fail or make an error or say something in a way they wouldn’t, he has some advice in Volume VII, page 54. Here are a few excerpts:
“Why were they so anxious to see me screw up? Oh, I guess like all envious and jealous leaders, so they could tell their fellow officers and SF buddies that good ‘ol Ranger Rick [e’ffed] up. Or so they could say, “Hey Ranger Rick, that’s not the [e’ffing] way we did it back at Bragg or in SF.”
“…thanks to these fellas, because I knew they were watching me like a hungry hawk…..I would always triple check my work….not only did the Bosnians learn a lot of training tips and tricks from me, but so did these senior trainers and SF dudes…they’ll never admit to anyone they have…..because their [sic] too proud and think they’re better than everyone else.”
“…It doesn’t matter if you’re an officer, NCO, Enlisted, or if you wear a Special Forces, Ranger, Airborne, or “no tab” at all. It’s how you use your brain and impress [the training to] the troops that makes you stand out from the rest.
And when you do, there will always be some leaders who will try to put you down or make you look bad so they’ll look better. [Eff] these guys, don’t worry about ’em, the troops you train and lead know who are the good and the bad leaders and instructors. Believe me, they know.”
So, as you’re training your NPT, make sure you research and study your subject thoroughly, practice your presentation, be open to objective and constructive criticism, gratefully acknowledge appropriate contributions to your training presentation by your students, welcome the observations of more experienced instructors on how to be better as a trainer, and constantly look for ways to improve your own skills and knowledge. As for your detractors? Take Ranger Rick’s advice above.