Education, not just career stepping stones

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Jack Mills
  • 301st Fighter Wing
As the Air Force makes changes, professional development takes on more importance because advancement is becoming increasingly competitive. I use the word competitive as opposed to difficult.
     Brig. Gen. August V. Kautz nailed it in his book, The 1865 Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers. He contends every military member should strive for competencies of the next higher grade. He also advocates that it is the inherent responsibility of the senior person to ensure the junior person is ready to take on the responsibilities of the senior’s job.
     Our two-tier system for advancement requires you to attain both general military training (Professional Military Education) and specialty training (job proficiency) in order to advance in both skill level and pay grade. I’m perplexed about the issues surrounding timely PME completion.
     Why would any Tech. Sgt. not have completed the NCO Academy within 24 months time-in-grade or why would any Master Sgt. not have completed the SNCO Academy within 24 months time-in-grade?
     It basically sends a message -- you are not interested or qualified in further advancement. I don’t know of a single NCO who wants to intentionally send that message.
     Beyond PME, we have the opportunity to attain an associate degree with very little difficulty. Specifically, I want to challenge every enlisted member of the 301st Fighter Wing to enroll in the Community College of the Air Force.
     It costs you nothing to enroll and you’re probably a lot closer to an associate degree than you may think.
     It’s entirely possible to complete your degree without ever setting foot in a classroom and without every spending a dollar. No doubt, General Kautz would be proud of this system and, moreover, our Air Force wins when more people utilize this benefit.
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