By Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
10/4/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — As part of a career broadening opportunity, a new nomination and selection process to attend sister-service enlisted professional military education (EPME) courses has been established for senior non-commissioned officers.
“The significance rests with the transformation from a first-come, first-served process to one that incorporates deliberate development and a return on investment,” said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Horn, the chief of Air Force Enlisted Developmental Education. “We owe it to both our Airmen and our Air Force to put this level of rigor into our developmental processes.”
To be eligible for sister-service senior NCO courses, Airmen must not only be nominated by their unit, but must also meet the specific criteria of the applicable service. The package must then be submitted through a board process at the unit’s major command, where the first cut is made.
From there, packages are sent to an Air Force-level board that determines the selectees who are given final approval by the chief master sergeant of the Air Force. This year the Air Force-level board is scheduled for Oct. 10, and if all goes well, it will be benchmarked as the new selection process.
For Master Sgt. Michael Noel, the chance to attend a joint EPME course was invaluable.
“I wanted a different PME perspective,” said Noel, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs office superintendent of force management. “I was really interested to see how other services (work), to see what kinds of issues they talk about when it comes to leadership and management. We all have a common goal to be effective leaders. So, I wanted the challenge of going somewhere else and finding out what I can learn from it. I jumped at the opportunity to attend the Marine advanced course.”
Noel attended the U.S. Marine Corps Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy Advanced Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., which is one of the approved classes Air Force senior NCOs can attend in place of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy. The course also provides the joint tools needed to become an effective senior enlisted leader.
“Sister-service EPME opportunities provide our Airmen with a perspective that is critical to today’s joint warfighter,” Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said. “We’re operating more and more in the joint environment, so it makes sense to train and educate that way. This helps us understand our joint partners better.”
That joint partnership is exactly what sister-service members hope for.
“I think it’s really important for Air Force senior enlisted management, like Master Sergeant Noel, to come here and actually see the type of leadership training we get, to get a better flavor for what we do, especially now that we get more joint,” said U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Simmons, from Company I Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion in Hawaii. “He’s assimilated right in with the group. It’s been great to have him here.”
Noel’s biggest piece of advice for other senior NCOs in the joint-EPME environment is to have the “right mindset, to go in with an open mind and be willing to listen to those other perspectives.”
Other joint PME courses include the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas; the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy at Newport, R.I.; the U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy at Petaluma, Calif.; and the U.S. Marine Corps courses also located at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Butler, Japan.