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Big Changes in Professional Military Education

OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --

Two very important changes to enlisted force development are about to occur. First, the Air Force is about to revolutionize Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME). EPME-Next completely transforms the delivery of EPME. This new delivery method will be a combination of self-paced distance-learning with follow on in-residence attendance. Here's a quick snapshot of the timeline for each level of EPME:

Airman Leadership School (ALS)
  • All Airmen with 3 years time-in-service (TIS) complete self-paced distance-learning
  • 100% of Senior Airmen and Staff Sergeants with 3-6 years TIS attend an Airman Leadership School in-residence.
Non-commissioned Officer Academy (NCOA)

  • All Airmen with 7 years TIS complete self-paced distance-learning, upon completion the member is a graduate of the Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Academy
  • 100% of Technical Sergeants with 8-11 years TIS complete Advanced Enlisted Leadership Education (ALE)
Senior Non-commissioned Officer Academy (SNCOA)

  • All Airmen with 11 years TIS complete self-paced distance-learning and upon completion are Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy graduates
  • 100% of Senior Master Sergeants with 12-15 years TIS will complete ALE through a combination of Facilitated Distance Learning and in-residence attendance
The bottom line is that EPME will be offered at shorter intervals and earlier in one's career to ensure all Airmen are receiving the level of military education commensurate with their time in service. The EPME-Next system is focused more on time-in-service than on rank. Our Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy said "EPME-Next is not just another box of books; the change involves providing Airmen with earlier and more consistent exposure to Air Force institutional competencies through distance-learning in addition to, and in some cases in lieu of, in-residence courses. The goal is to provide development at an earlier stage in an Airman's career to better meet the Air Force mission requirements of the future."

More detailed information about EPME-Next and its implementation timeline will be published soon.

Next up, for our senior non-commissioned officers, will be the requirement to complete the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree prior to promotion to Senior Master Sgt. and Chief Master Sgt. Although AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, constantly reminds us that a CCAF degree is an important component of our professional development it has never been a requirement for promotion. ANGI 36-2502, Promotion of Airmen, is expected to be published soon and it will include the new requirement for CCAF degree completion. This is coming. If you don't have a CCAF degree you're probably not too far from meeting the degree requirements. You can check your transcript online at https://www.my.af.mil/afvecprod/afvec/Home.aspx. Act now and don't miss an opportunity to compete for promotion.

It's hard to believe, but we're coming to the end of another year and what a difference a year makes. In the first nine months of this year we've gained a new wing commander, two new group commanders, a new Chief Master Sgt., and two new First Sergeants, not to mention the many new squadron commanders, SNCOs, new enlistees (officer and enlisted), and other personnel changes occurring at all levels of the wing. Additionally, we've had leadership changes at the highest enlisted and command levels up through General Welsh, the 20th Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Next year will be as exciting as it is challenging. We will continue to grow our missions as we migrate to our new facilities and plan for other modernization projects to existing facilities. At the same time, decreasing defense spending has everyone wondering how budget decisions will affect us locally. I can assure you that our wing and state leadership are aggressively seeking out opportunities at the national level to ensure we remain relevant now and well into the future. Our job is to continue to maintain the highest level of personal readiness to meet mission requirements (AFI 36-2618, para. 3.1.4.)

As the end of the year and holiday season approaches, I want to thank you all for your hard work and continued dedication. Please continue to be good wingmen. Always remember that we constantly have troops in harm's way all over the world, keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.