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Air Force releases new requirements for enlisted education

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The Air Force began implementing a new Enlisted Professional Military Education model in June, designed to introduce Airmen to appropriate institutional competencies at specific milestones throughout their career.

The new requirements for EPME training are broken down into three phases that now incorporate distance learning and are based time in service. The distance learning courses encompass Basic Phase II and Basic Phase III and are considered prerequisites for in-residence NCO and senior NCO academy eligibility.

Education for junior enlisted Airmen will remain unchanged, except that Airman Leadership School must now be completed between three and six years time in service.

"Once they hit 72 months, unless there's a waiver, they can't attend ALS and complete phase one," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ed Abell, 97th Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor. "This would lead to that Airmen being pushed out of the military."

Basic Phase II is now the Distance Learning Course 15, and must be completed between seven and 12 years time in service. Basic Phase III is now the Distance Learning Course 14, and must be completed between 12 and 18 years time in service.

These basic phase requirements must be completed before Airmen can be eligible for Comprehensive PME, which will not be available for every Airman.

"Everyone has to do Course 15 and 14, when they're in that window. However, some Airmen are going to be selected to go to the in-residence courses," said Abell. "Not everybody gets to do it, but that's okay, because it doesn't mean you won't get promoted if you're not chosen for the in-residence courses."

The comprehensive PME course that follows Basic Phase II is called the Intermediate Learning Experience, and the course that follows Basic Phase III is called the Advanced Learning Experience.

Eligibility and selection for the comprehensive PME courses are rank and performance based. For the Intermediate Learning Experience, the most eligible for the course are technical sergeants, descending to technical sergeant selects, then to non-technical sergeant selects with the highest Weighted Airman Promotion System scores until all class seats are filled.

Similarly, for the Advanced Learning Experience, the most eligible are all senior master sergeants, then all senior master sergeant selects, then all non-senior master sergeant selects with the highest WAPS scores until all class seats are filled.

Once an Airman is eligible, based on time in service, they can enroll in the appropriate Basic Phase of PME, or wait until they are notified to start the course. When the member enrolls, or is officially notified, the Airman will have 12 months to complete the course.

If the Airman does not complete the necessary PME course within the allotted 12-month period, or exceeds the time in service window for the applicable PME course, the member will be ineligible to promote, re-enlist, or extend their enlistment, and that could potentially end their career.

Additionally, if the distance learning course is not completed within the 12 months prescribed and it is on or after the promotion eligibility cutoff date, Airmen are ineligible for promotion during the promotion cycle, including testing, consideration if already tested, or cancellation of a promotion sequence number if previously selected.

If an Airman's promotion sequence number is cancelled for this reason, the promotion sequence number, or line number, will not be reinstated upon course completion.

Wing commanders or their equivalent may submit an exemption to policy request to Air Force Personnel Center no later than 10 months after the initial myPers notification when circumstances prevent course completion within the allotted timeline.

One example of when this might be waived is if an Airman is at a bare base deployed location and has no means to complete the course.

Personnel records will not be updated with ineligibility codes until 12 months after the official notification from the AFPC directing enrollment, allowing Airmen their full 12 months to complete the requirement.

Currently, Air University does not have the capability to enroll technical sergeants and below in Course 14, however they will be contacted through myPers with enrollment instructions when available.

"With this new system, you get to prove that you're motivated or that you're not," said Abell. "Every member will have one year from notification or enrollment to complete the course, and people who enroll and get it done will identify themselves as hard chargers."

For more information visit the myPers website, https://cs3.eis.af.mil/sites/OO-ED-AE-32/EPME/Forms/AllItems.aspx, or call 580-481-6649.