Professional Military Education changes
By Master Sgt. Michael Shirar, 173rd Fighter Wing Maintenance Training
/ Published April 16, 2013
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- For those of us with more than a few years of military experience under our belts, we've seen drastic changes in the Air Force Professional Military Education program over the years. However, nothing compares to the upheaval that has occurred in the last two years. Air Force PME has undergone a bit of an identity crisis; a result of many changes in Air Force leadership-doctrine, future plans, and the ever-tightening budget constraints. The resulting programs for Airman Leadership School and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy are more challenging than ever before and more weighted to individual initiative.
In order to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings regarding PME, it's important to review the basic facts about the program. First, PME is not a requirement. There's no Air Force Instruction or guidance out there that compels an Airman to complete their Professional Military Education for any reason other than promotion. Obviously, PME is necessary for those who wish to advance up their career progression ladder, but the timeline to do so is strictly up to the individual and their desire for advancement (within the constraints of the AFI, that is). There is no required oversight or management of an individual's PME progress required for those enrolled.
This is not to say that a chain of command is exempted from the responsibility of Airman development; but there is no tracking, progress checks, or management of an individual's PME progression required, as is the case with mandatory Career Development Courses. Simply put, PME is a contract between the member and Air University directly. Progress and program management is the responsibility of the individual enrollee.
In-residence PME availability continues to be a challenge for the Air National Guard. There are simply too few seats available to meet the demand across the ANG community. This will most likely continue to be an issue given the current budgetary concerns; however, our Airmen may now enroll in the correspondence version of these programs through the Air University Non-Resident Study program. The AUSIS website, https:\\ausis.maxwell.af.mil, contains the instructions for enrollment, program policies, rules and requirements for program completion, as well as study tips, sample test questions, and testing procedures. It is a one-stop shopping center for those wishing to complete their ALS and NCOA PME through correspondence. The Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy distance learning program is still manually ordered by the training office.
One of the distinct advantages of the new AUSIS PME program is that it cuts the middle-man (i.e., the training office) out of the picture. Of course the training office is always around to assist as-needed with individual PME questions and issues. However, our Airmen are now able to manage their PME programs at their own pace and make decisions for themselves. Airmen may now request their own course extensions, download electronic copies of their program, and even request their own tests (though, for scheduling purposes, please schedule them via the training office). Issues or technical difficulties with the program or site can now be resolved directly between AUSIS and the member. The bad news? The training office can no longer track member progress in the program. Gone are the days of timely and friendly reminders from the training office that a member's course is about to expire. Members must now manage their own progress and complete the required course exam within the established parameters. As always, however, the Maintenance Training Office is more than happy to support our members. Members can still send their enrollment information to the training office and we will be glad to send those annoying little email reminders if it helps.
For more information about PME, please refer to AFI 36-2301, ANGI 36-2301, or your unit training manger.