EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – Throughout an enlisted airman’s career, there are key opportunities to develop skills to lead, manage and supervise Air Force personnel by completing designated professional military education courses.
With current fiscal constraints, Pacific Air Forces and the Elmendorf PME Center devised a process to deploy a mobile education team to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to provide an opportunity to complete in-residence PME closer to home.
“The Elmendorf PME Center has a long history of employing mobile education teams,” said Chief Master Sgt. JJ Little, Elmendorf PME Center commandant. “Sending one instructor from [Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska] to Eielson at a cost savings of $400,000 dollars this year was an answer to the impacts of sequestration.”
The savings benefit not only the Air Force, but also allow the students to spend more time with family.
“I think it’s an added advantage; PME is extremely important,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Mosher, NCO Academy student and 354th Security Forces Squadron kennel master. “Finding ways to do that by reducing costs and allowing students to remain closer to their families is a win-win overall.”
The class of mostly active duty and Guardsmen share similar views on having the in-resident class.
“It’s nice being at home, especially during family emergencies, wind storms or power outages,” said Tech. Sgt. John Tweed, 168th Maintenance Squadron communication and navigation avionics technician. “I can still be home to take care of those things.”
The NCOA class on Eielson consists of one instructor and the local students, who join to be part of the class that runs concurrently out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“The class I’m teaching is the noncommissioned officer class from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson 14-1,” said Tech. Sgt. Jarod Cappon, Elmendorf PME Center instructor currently deployed to Eielson. “This flight is competing against the other flights at Elmendorf. We have to mirror our schedule, mirror our movements, so everything we do is at the same rhythm and same pace as the classes happening on Elmendorf.”
The infrastructure, facilities and Airman Leadership School staff on Eielson was essential in making the in-resident NCOA class possible.
“They handled numerous logistics and coordination issues for us and ensured everything was in place for the instructors to teach,” said Cappon.
The advantages of a mobile education team are not only reaped by the Air Force, but by friends, families and graduates as well.
“We’re talking about a significant life event here,” said Little. “To finish this level of PME as NCOs locally, where families, co-workers, supervisors and peers are able to attend the graduation at Eielson is a huge team-building endeavor that will reap benefits in the future.”