Year of Leadership: Leadership and education go hand in hand

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. James Jackson
  • 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron first sergeant
Like our great wing commander says, "every Airman is a leader." No matter what phase in your career you are at, in each step, you received some form of education ... all the way from an airman basic up to a chief master sergeant.

It amazed me when I stopped and thought about all the professional military education we go through during our career. At the start of your Air Force career, you received your introduction to military life through basic training. Upon completion of basic training you are sent to technical school and receive technical training for your Air Force Specialty Code and earned your three skill level. As you move on to your new base, you complete your career development courses and go through on the job training to earn your five skill level. You may also be taking civilian college courses to obtain your Community College of the Air Force degree to make you more competitive for senior airman below the zone. It might be something to fall back on if you decide to separate once your time in the military is over.

Now you have your five skill level, it's time to start studying for staff sergeant. By going back through your CDC's and studying the professional development guide, you are reminded of each educational step you have taken to this point. Your CDC's are an overview of what you learned in technical school and your PDG is a refresher of your lessons from basic training. After you are selected for staff sergeant, you attend Airman Leadership School. You have now gained all the knowledge you need to become an effective supervisor and it's time to start coasting, right? I don't think so.

Time now to obtain your seven skill level. In most cases, this is accomplished by a combination of CDC's and a two-week TDY to your respective AFSC school house. Once you have achieved your seven-level, you study your CDC's and PDG and make technical sergeant. Now you are slotted to attend the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy ... another level in the professional military education realm. Since NCOA is now under your belt, you meet the requirements for master sergeant, but of course you have to study your CDC's and PDG to be promoted. Upon selection to master sergeant, you must complete the Senior NCO correspondence course to make yourself competitive for senior master sergeant. After you make senior master sergeant (or in other circumstances as a master sergeant), you will be selected to attend the in-residence Senior NCO Academy.

Now you're done, right? Not quite.

Even if you are fortunate enough to be in the top one percent of the enlisted force and obtain the rank of chief master sergeant, you will still have one more enlisted PME to go to, and that is the Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Course.

Each phase in your military education is a stepping stone for the next, enhancing your leadership capabilities. Whichever phase you are in, make the best of your professional military education. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it, subsequently making you a better leader.