MARCH 6, 2015, NIAGARA FALLS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. – The 107th Airlift Wing hosted an Instructor Certification Program (ICP) here this past week with 16 New York Air National Guard members attending in order to become facilitators for Professional Military Education (PME) courses.
The program lasts 10 days and is taught by instructors from the I.G. Brown Training Center at McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Base in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The course content is designed to prepare non-commissioned officers to facilitate Air Force PME classes at their home station, which are referred to as satellite courses. This will help the unit cut travel costs and increase efficiency.
PME is important to Airmen because it requires members to continue their education during their careers and to develop skills to become effective leaders and supervisors. Airmen are required to gain an understanding of their positions in the military structure and the importance of fostering a commitment to the profession of arms. The training is required for each tier of enlisted ranks and must be completed with a passing score to advance.
This training comes on the tail of the recent change of command at the 107th. Col. Robert Kilgore became the 107th’s new wing commander last month. He has emphasized that PME is of utmost importance for unit members to accomplish.
“In order to ensure our Airmen could compete for jobs and promotions on equal footing, we needed to make sure PME was not holding them back,” says Col. Kilgore. “The Guard has had a difficult time getting our young Airmen into Airman Leadership School in the past and we needed a solution to that problem.”
New York State Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Rich King, was looking for ways to increase the availability of professional development for Airmen across the state. He, along with the 107th command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Philip Tavenier, came up with a solution.
“We can train our own people and offer PME classes they need to advance their careers,” said Chief Tavenier. “The active-duty force has more opportunities than the Guard for professional development. We want our people to have the same advantages so we are going to train our NCOs, here in Niagara Falls, to lead our Airmen forward.”
“That’s how we do it in the 107th,” said Chief Tavenier. “We aren’t going to wait around for something to change; we are going to make that change and we are going to be the next class registered for a satellite ALS course.”
The 107th has a history of resiliency. The unit is transitioning to a new mission, flying the remotely piloted aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper. The unit previously flew the C-130 transport aircraft and before that, the KC-135 refueling tanker.
The 107th members also respond to New York State emergencies and have been readily involved in Operation Lake Effect Storm as well as Hurricane Sandy and Irene relief efforts over the past few years.
The 107th shares a base with the 914th Air Reserve unit, which is scheduled to host an Air Show in July of this year. An MQ-9 will be displayed during the show and will serve to educate the community on the mission of this new aircraft and its many capabilities.