Fort Benning offers civilian education opportunities
February 26, 2014
By Nick Duke
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Feb. 26, 2014) -- In addition to the professional development offered by functional training and instruction at Fort Benning, Soldiers assigned here also have numerous opportunities to enhance their career through civilian education.
Lt. Col. John Argue, of the Directorate of Training and Doctrine's Training Development Division, said Maneuver Center of Excellence Commanding General Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster has placed high emphasis on education during his time at the MCoE.
"Maj. Gen. McMaster just pushes for programs for our Soldiers," Argue said. "He's a noted warrior and very focused on lifelong learning. You always have to be a learner, no matter what your career is. … He has a priority to develop leaders and teach lifelong learners at every level, not just at the officer level, but also at the enlisted basic entry Soldier level … We want to teach that lifelong training out of the gate."
Argue said offering civilian education opportunities is important for several reasons.
First, he said, civilian education can help deepen tactical and technical skills, making those assigned here better Soldiers and instructors. In addition, civilian education can help those Soldiers develop skills they can use throughout their career.
Civilian education opportunities can also help to incentivize assignments at the MCoE, he said. Finally, civilian education can help Soldiers by easing the eventual transition to civilian life.
Civilian education can also be helpful with promotion opportunities, as the Army recommends that Soldiers seek degrees throughout their military careers.
"The recommendation is that you have an associate's degree by the time you're a staff sergeant or sergeant first class and a bachelor's degree by the time you're a first sergeant," Argue said.
Soldiers may already be on their way to a degree without realizing it, as Argue said the Army Council on Education provides accreditation in various subjects for Army courses completed, including basic training and advanced individual training.
The Fort Benning Education Center and its counselors are available to help Soldiers figure out what credits they may be eligible for, and can guide them toward education opportunities.
The education center briefs all new arrivals on civilian education opportunities during inprocessing, and also brings that message to Family members during newcomers' briefings.
"We talk about education opportunities not only for the Soldier, but the spouse and Family as well," said Mike Hodge, a supervisory education services specialist.
There are also various civilian education programs built into courses or units at Fort Benning.
One such program is the Maneuver Master's Degree Program, in which Maneuver Captains Career Course students receive credit from Columbus State University for MCCC classes and supplement that with classes taken at CSU.
"If the captains who come to the course sign up for it and are competitive, Armor and Infantry Branch will allow them to stay six months later," Argue said. "So, they go to class at night at Columbus State."
The additional six months allows the captains enough time to complete a master's degree in leadership development before leaving Fort Benning.
There are also opportunities for small group instructors, as both the Georgia Institute of Technology and Auburn University offer master of business administration programs. The Georgia Tech program requires about 30 weekends of course work, while the Auburn program requires one week a quarter for 21 months.
The MCoE is working on a similar partnership with Emory University.
For more information on education opportunities, contact the education center at 545-7397 or visit the center at Building 2602 in Soldiers Plaza.