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Joint Enlisted PME Becomes Reality

By Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2005 – The enlisted force will now have the same opportunity as the officer corps to receive joint professional military education throughout their careers.

"Senior leadership across the (Defense) Department and services know the backbone of the military is the enlisted corps, and they must be properly educated in the joint environment for the nation to be successful," said Army Command Sgt. Major William Joseph Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a Pentagon interview Dec. 6.

"Senior leaders rely on the senior enlisted leadership to take care of enlisted servicemembers," he said. "Enlisted joint PME is a priority for all leaders that needs to be done now, because waiting isn't an option."

Gainey said joint enlisted training not only was one of his top priorities when he began serving in his new position Oct. 1, but also is directly tied to Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace's second-priority transformation of the force, and the priorities of the combatant commands' and the services' senior enlisted advisors.

The policy calls for the services to incorporate joint topics into their existing enlisted PME programs, and also establishes two chairman-sponsored EJPME programs for enlisted servicemembers assigned or slated to be assigned to joint billets.

"While not mandated by law, as is the case for officers, this policy is a recognition that operating in joint, interagency, multinational, and coalition warfighting organizations and staffs requires that joint learning objectives must be made available to all enlisted personnel," said Army Col. Lawrence Smith, chief, Joint Education Branch, J-7 Operational Plans and Joint Force Development, Joint Staff.

Smith said the Joint Staff, services and combatant commands have been working on this policy for more than two years to ensure the policy put into place will help the armed forces continually transform to meet the uncertain future and the unfolding challenges of the 21st century.

He explained that the goal of the policy is to expand future senior enlisted personnel's knowledge of individual, service and joint core competencies while broadening their understanding of the uncertain strategic and operational requirements.

"Senior enlisted leaders of the future must be well versed in both the art and science of joint operations," he said, noting that a "joint" context will be embedded into existing PME courses for all the services.

Smith said the working group had to look at the existing PME programs and break them into logical educational levels:

  • Introductory for E-1 through E-3;
  • Primary for E-4 through E-6;
  • Intermediate for E-7 (E-6 for the Marine Corps);
  • Senior for E-8 and E-9; and
  • Executive for E-9 command senior enlisted leaders serving as SELs in general- or flag-officer-led organizations.

Then the group incorporated relevant joint topics into the respective systems to develop future leaders. The consensus was to include two educational levels that span an enlisted member's career and apply to all. A third educational level applies to senior enlisted members assigned to joint billets.

The first phase addresses progressive guidelines that should be completed by E-6. Learning areas will include national military capabilities and organization, and an armed forces overview. Knowledge will be acquired through formal schooling, job aids, promotion guides and Web-based courses.

Career EJPME for E-7s and above, or E-6s and above for the Marine Corps, will build on the basic skills and incorporate foundations of joint operations and a national security overview.

Senior EJPME will have two chairman-sponsored, assignment-oriented educational opportunities beginning with the senior enlisted leaders.

The first is a senior EJPME stand-alone Web-based course for those slated to serve or currently serving in joint organizations. This education consists of the same learning areas as the career EJPME, but provides more in-depth learning objectives applicable to severing in a joint organization and environment.

The second tier of the senior EJPME course is the Keystone course that will prepare command-level SELs for service in a flag- or general-officer joint headquarters. Keystone emphasizes national military capabilities and organization; joint doctrine; service, joint, interagency and multinational capabilities; and defense acquisition and resourcing. The first Keystone course is scheduled for February at the National Defense University, with a short stint at the U.S. Joint Forces Command Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Va.

Gainey said that now that the policy is in place, it's up to the services to educate their enlisted force for joint challenges.

"With the chairman signing the policy, the challenge is up to the services to get EJPME done for our enlisted force," he said. "What we don't want to do is rush to failure. (We should) spend enough time to get it done right, because this will affect the next senior enlisted leaders for the services. We owe it to our young folks to educate and train them right, because pride is contagious."

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Houlihan is assigned to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office.)

Contact Author

Gen. Peter Pace, USMC
Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, USA

Related Sites:
Joint Chiefs of Staff

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