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Break out the books - changes are on the horizon for PME

by Staff Sgt. Carla Williams
5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Graphic by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The Air Force professional military education process has developed grade-related education and education opportunities that support specific jobs for officers.

"On the enlisted side, the Air Force has long had a continuity of PME programs that are associated with rank advancement, but you also have courses based on job and level of responsibility such as the First Sergeant's Academy," said Maj. Gen. Robert J. "Bob" Elder Jr., Air War College commandant and Air University vice commander, during his visit to Minot Air Force Base, N.D. Nov.3.

"We are now expanding this dual approach - rank and position education - with the officer corps," he said.

General Elder, who commanded the 5th Bomb Wing here from 1996 to 1998, said the war college is currently enhancing senior development education courses.

"The new AWC program features an SDE distance-learning course, concentrating on institutional leadership -particularly within the Air Force -for all upcoming colonels," said the general, who has been the AWC commandant since July 2004. "We also have a resident warfighting course, focused on joint and coalition operations, that will be fully accredited as a joint-PME Phase II course. This means graduates of the warfighting course will have the PME credit required for assignment as joint-specialty officers."

The SDE courses will now focus on the continued development of strategic leader skills.

"Strategic leader is a widely used term in the business community for top executives who are known for their critical analysis, creative thinking, decision making, and planning skills," said the general. "We're focusing on these executive skills and cross-cultural communication capabilities to ensure Air Force senior leaders have the ability to lead our own people as well as communicate with other Services and coalition forces."

The general, who flew 83 combat hours during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, sees many PME changes on the horizon.

"We're now spending time focusing on cross-cultural negotiations, not just looking at different countries but also cultural differences between our own military services -- changes made essential by the changing nature of war. That's a big shift," he said. "The other big issue is working with other agencies, not only government agencies but also non-government agencies. To aid this, our new courses will spend more time looking at how we bring all instruments of national power together."

He also said PME's focus will shift toward continuous learning, with continuous reinforcement and re-learning of evolving Air Force and joint doctrine.

"We don't want people to think PME is finished once they complete a course -- PME is something done throughout one's professional lifetime," he explained. "To enable this, we want to make it easier with something we call booster shots. For example, we envision company grade officers will take a pre-squadron officer school class that will look at Air Force doctrine, personal communication skills, and group and team leadership dynamics." (Courtesy of Air Force Print News)



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