Q & A with vice commandant of the College of Professional Military Education
by Senior Airman Andrea Thacker
6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Chief Master Sgt. Sharon Turk, vice commandant of the College of Professional Military Education. Here is what she had to say.
What's the most challenging thing you've faced as the vice commandant of enlisted PME?
The most challenging thing is keeping up with the changing Air Force and making sure what we do in our curriculum is actually what the Air Force needs. We do respond quickly, and that is based on using the Secretary of the Air Force Vectors, Air Force Chief of Staff Sight Pictures and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force perspectives. They help us better understand the direction our senior leaders want us to go in. The challenge is incorporating that quickly into the curriculum at all levels.
MacDill's Air Force Birthday Ball theme this year is "Women in Aviation." How has the women's role expanded since you came in the Air Force 21 years ago?
Each and every year, women in the military are given the opportunity to do a lot more. When I first came in, we didn't have women flying fighters. That is one way we have definitely grown. When we look at the composition of our military right now, we have more than 13 percent women in our Air Force.
We have come a long way in the number of women we have in the military and jobs we are able to perform.
Where are we with PME now and where do you see it going?
Right now we are leaning toward a combat leadership focus. In the past, PME has been focused on the businesslike environment. Based on the needs of our Air Force, we understand our folks need to be more like warriors and combat leaders. In the future PME is going to start straddling the fence in the arena of education and training. We are going to do everything we can to bring that warrior concept into PME by providing academics and then supporting that with training exercises.
We need to focus on the warrior ethos of all of our folks.
If you could give an Airmen one bit of advice, what would it be?
Continue to seek and improve your professional confidence by your demeanor and performance.
I know all the core values are important, but which one do you think Airmen should focus on?
Integrity. And I whole heartily agree with the way we have them set up, with INTEGRITY FIRST! You have to have integrity before you can do anything else. That is the foundation of everything else. Service before self hangs off one limb and excellence in all we do hangs off the other, but you have to have that foundation.
What would you say to Airmen who are deploying longer and more often?
They need to reflect back on why we're here. When we didn't have a lot of deployments, traveling all over the world people felt as if we were in a nine-to-five job. We do not work in an eight-hour-a-day job, so we must be prepared and ready at any time our mission calls and for as long as it is necessary. I know it is harder when families are involved, but if you've got a strong physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and social well-being, you can get through it all. And we are going to continue to be deployed more frequently and for longer periods of time.