As the British Army marks Black History Month we went along to Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh to meet Lance Corporal Precious Obeng from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, and talk about his experiences.
Precious Kweku Obeng is 36 years old. He grew up in Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana where his parents still live and he is one of five siblings. Following his schooling Precious attended college and was awarded a Diploma in Communication Studies, his focus was on Journalism. After his education he began working in the Media and worked in the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, being involved in the presentation of news bulletins.
[I] wanted to experience the journey and cultural challenge of serving with the British Armed Forces LANCE CORPORAL PRECIOUS OBENG
He then undertook his one year’s National Service as a Secondary School Teacher. Following this, he applied for and joined the British Army. He currently works in the CIS Platoon of 3 RIFLES, where he works as a Signals enabler and storeman. He is married with two daughters aged two & four.
Asked why he joined the British Army, Precious said he wanted to experience the journey and cultural challenge of serving with the British Armed Forces. He felt that the British Army offered an opportunity for regular employment with additional benefits, a chance to travel and experience a range of opportunities he would not otherwise have been exposed to. He was sad to leave Ghana, a country he described as amazing, with great people and incredible potential but wanted to take the opportunity.
When applying he found that the visa process caused some complications and delayed him; he was refused the first time but successful on reapplication. He said that visa clearance problems are common and needed to be considered by future applicants. The other thing he felt affected his joining process was his age, at 28 he was significantly older than most applicants and was told that fitness may have been an issue. In fact, he was able to pass all tests and join up.
He undertook his initial training in Catterick in 2013 and, after a brief delay due to an injury, joined the Battalion in 2015. Since then he has been on a number of overseas training exercises, the first to the United States for a large multinational exercise, this included going to Folk Polk, Louisiana and experiencing his first Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He has also been to Kenya and Germany. As well as training abroad he has also been involved in a number of UK-based exercises including the major Wessex Storm exercise on Salisbury plain.
In 2017 Precious attended a promotional cadre, something he described as one of the hardest things he’s done, and was promoted to Lance Corporal. He has also undertaken the All Arms Storeman course. When we spoke to him in August, he had just returned from a Regimental Signals Detachment Commanders Course.
Come with the right attitude. To those from the Commonwealth, I'd also say get ready to be shocked by the British weather! Lance Corporal Precious Obeng
During his service, he has inspired members of his family to apply. His brother and brother-in-law both joined the Royal Logistics Corps after he was able to provide some coaching and mentoring and some sound advice to them while they were in the application process.
Precious looks forward to continuing his career with the British Army and see where it leads, along with continuing to enjoy the opportunities and experiences given to him by his service. He feels that the Army has given him lots of opportunities and allowed him to be a ‘better version of myself’.
For the future, Precious remains interested in journalism and would like to re-engage with that at some point. He does intend to blog in the future and currently posts videos on Youtube on Ghanaian history. He enjoys the experience of the British Media in the range of its outputs and feels its diversity may give some pointers to media in Ghana.
As for advice to those considering joining themselves Precious says ‘get fit and stay fit! Come with the right attitude. To those from the Commonwealth, I'd also say get ready to be shocked by the British weather!’