Sustaining joint service through military education

By Sgt. Maj. Montrell L. KeaMay 20, 2024

Helicopter air-to-air refueling
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jared Delong, loadmaster assigned to the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (ERQS), guides a forklift to load a pallet onto a U.S. Air Force HC-130J Combat King II, at an undisclosed location, Southwest Asia, May 30, 2023. ERQS assigned to U.S. Air Forces Central are organized, trained, equipped and postured are organized, trained, equipped and postured to conduct full spectrum personnel recovery to include both conventional and unconventional combat rescue operations within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Special warfare operators assigned throughout the combined joint operational area conduct operations in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Harrison Winchell) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Harrison Winchell) VIEW ORIGINAL

Sustainment professionals must take advantage of military education opportunities throughout the duration of their service. Earning credentials and experiences that enhance operational readiness are essential to the overall effectiveness that sustainment professionals bring to a functional capability or staff. This effectiveness is even more critical and essential when serving on a joint staff or performing a function within a joint command.

Service on a joint command assignment produces military professionals that gain valuable exposure to the foundation and concepts of National Strategy. The Joint Force Leadership Development (JFLD) model enabled by the Joint Staff & Enlisted Professional Military Education Policy Guidance builds on and supplements service specific Professional Military Education (PME) modules that provide intermediate and senior noncommissioned officers the ability to apply joint concepts in a joint, interagency and/or multinational environment.

Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education (EJPME) serves as a sub-component of JFLD and initiates the preparation for enlisted service members serving on or projected to serve in a joint environment. Foundationally, EJPME is an outcome-based military education methodology that expands service component development while complementing joint leader development and is governed by the Enlisted Military Education Review Council, or EMERC. The EMERC advises and provides recommendations to EJPME and addresses challenges associated with the joint education community. The council board is the advisory body that collaborates and develops joint education initiatives for all service components and is presided over by the JFLD model. The EMERC reviews and updates common core curriculum while ensuring modern advancements are introduced to the syllabus and curriculum of warfighting functions independently. Operations, intelligence, sustainment, and other warfighting functions changes drive the necessary review from EMERC. Arguably, the sustainment warfighting function inherently sources the most frequent need for evolution and demand for NCOs to enroll in associated courses early in service enlistment.

The sustainment cohort employs Distributed Learning Course (DLC) enrollment as the continuous bedrock of NCO progression and multifunctional NCO development.

Distributed learning courses provide a flexible education practice for soldiers and NCOs to access remotely. The topics covered in DLC course material are relevant and linked to course material covered in EJPME. Collectively, DLC and EJPME topics cover the importance of leadership, strategic messaging, joint operations, and national strategy. Subsequently, the knowledge of multifunctional NCOs while serving jointly is enhanced in areas pertinent to the sustainment community – essential to their development, while contributing to overall readiness effectiveness.

As multifunctional NCOs navigate DLC, Advanced Leader Course, Senior Leader Course and Master Leader Course, they must be aware of the vital opportunities associated in Joint Functional Education and EJPME. Respectively, Joint Special Operations University, Joint Combined Warfighters School and National Defense University all provide the multifunctional NCO and the sustainment community a valuable opportunity to develop and provide perspective to the evolving challenges associated with sustaining component and joint operations.

Joint Logistics Course and Gateway Course

Considering the ever-changing complexities of sustaining the joint force and navigating the Joint Logistics Enterprise (JLEnt), EMERC promotes and advocates the importance and relevancy of joint military education while serving in a sustainment career management field. Advocacy includes promoting JFLD and the enrollment into EJPME common core courses in conjunction with joint sustainment courses. One of the most renowned and all-inclusive joint sustainment courses is the Joint Logistics Course hosted by Army Sustainment University at Fort Gregg-Adams, Virginia.

The Joint Logistics Course (JLC) introduces the JLEnt to students while sharing the unique capabilities of service and government agencies. The course highlights the challenges of theater-level logistics and addresses the subject matter expertise required to resolve those challenges therewithin. JLC is governed by JFLD and complements efforts that streamline joint planning processes. With the complexities of contested logistics, compounded with the impacts of climate change and water insecurities, experienced, educated, and informed NCOs bestow a critical lens and skillset that provide keen resolutions and options to adjudicate complex sustainment problems. JLC and other sustainment courses within JPME confer confidence and essential knowledge with intermediate and senior NCOs that employ applicable resolutions while serving in a joint environment. For example, the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course outlines global resources available in response to domestic and foreign natural disasters. Additionally, the Joint Operational Contract Support Planning and Execution Course outlines the staff structure vital to support joint operations and teaches the fundamental necessities to execute a joint requirement review board. There is also the Joint Petroleum Course that places the challenges of joint fuel operations into a unique perspective. This course outlines the requirements associated with petroleum operations within the broader context of joint warfighting, while providing a comprehensive understanding of fuel distribution, quality assurance and petroleum logistics. Each course provides impartial transparency of the JLEnt and endorses common core PME such as EJPMEI/II and the Gateway Course.

The Gateway Course focuses on six descriptive Joint Learning Areas: National Strategic Overview, National Military Capabilities and Organization, Joint Forces Overview, Joint, Joint Forces Leadership, Foundations of Joint Operations, and Regional Knowledge-Operational Culture. Through the learning areas, the course prepares joint enlisted professionals to serve in a joint environment while giving them educational acquaintances to foundational concepts of joint operational plans, nested with national strategy. The course underpins joint perspectives while preparing leaders to serve in the joint environment. Collectively, the Gateway Course introduces students to subject matter experts at the national level that share concepts and experiences. Facilitated discussions and engagements during the course, leverages integrated capabilities across the forces and government agencies where students gain skills to employ in joint functional area assignments and continued service. As a graduate, leaders will have a foundational understanding of the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and the affiliated bond to the National Military Strategy. Joint Knowledge Online serves as the primary source for joint training online and continued self-development, while the Army Training Requirements and Resources System provides enrollment requirements and prerequisite for some joint course. Other favorable joint course enrollment criteria are managed by combatant commands and joint-task forces with specific ties to organizational requirements.

As recently announced at the Sustainment Town Hall, a minimum of one professional military education course in a Sustainment Functional area is required to be eligible for the Personal Development Skill Identifier M1F, Multifunctional Logistics NCO. The opportunities for these courses are abundant and available within JPME functional areas. Additionally, these courses compliment soldiers’ natural progression through service PME.

Opportunities for Joint Courses and Service

The National Defense Strategy 2022 mandates that we build a resilient Joint Force as a Department of Defense priority. In the spirit of this mandate, the force has extensive opportunities for EJPME and service in a joint environment. Prominent NCOs must seek out early opportunities to enroll in EJPME courses with the intent of serving on a joint assignment including United States Northern Command, Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Central Command, Defense Health Agency, and U.S. Transportation Command. There are about 24 major joint commands across the Department of Defense. Some of the joint commands are supplemented by Joint Task Forces that reinforce the need for diverse and educated NCOs to integrate their talents while maximizing effective and efficient joint leader development. Leaders that have an interest in joint service are encouraged to pursue timely and suitable career plans that complement serving in a joint command as they navigate unique opportunities in their career. Additionally, service members can enroll in strategic partnerships and programs that are deliberate with their output for joint enlisted professionals. Joint, Interagency, intergovernmental and multi-national fellowships/internships leverage a return on investment that is unmatched.

As United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command Directorate of Logistics and Engineering, J4, senior enlisted leader, I perform my duties with a front row seat to the daily pursuits of disruption that our adversaries attempt to inflict on the homeland. Threats to our cyber vulnerabilities and sustainment networks enhance the need for an advanced security environment that defends against an array of threats. Often times, I’m referred back to the knowledge gained from attending the Theater Special Operations Command course - a joint course that teaches logistics, planning and operational C2 while operating in a joint assignment. That resident knowledge regularly reminds me that trained and educated NCOs must be prepared to advise and make recommendations that leverage limited resources appropriately. The early human capital investment offered to me through the previous Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education model, subsequently promoted an ability to meet the desired outcomes of my current position in the J4 directorate.

Service objectives are inherently the same as we all serve the American people, defend our nations interest and uphold the principles of the U.S. Constitution. We are armed with core values and must continue to invest in human capital that includes the development of enlisted professionals. In support of national strategy and globally integrated service operations, JFLD and EJPME accompanies the development of joint enlisted professionals by delivering competent and capable leaders required for mission success through ground, sea, air, space, and cyberspace domains.