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Command Chiefs Advocate for Improved Total Force Distance Learning Courses

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chelcee Arnold
  • Air National Guard

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, command chief of the Air National Guard, and Chief Master Sgt. Israel Nunez, command chief of the Air Force Reserve, met with the leadership team at the Barnes Center at Maxwell-Gunter Annex, in Alabama 18 October. During their visit, both chiefs offered a broader perspective of the individual lines of effort for enlisted professional military education distance learning and foundations courses.

The EPME program, foundations courses, and career progression models have played a pivotal role in shaping the force. Previously known as the Enlisted Force Development Action Plan, the Enlisted Airmanship Continuum, builds upon the Air Force's strong foundation, focusing on the Total Force's broader options, closing development gaps, and delivering quality content through various methods such as distance learning or virtual courses.

“We want to build a quality product for all Airmen, not just the Guard and Reserve. All Airmen should be able to take a distance learning course and come out at the same learning level as those who attend in residence,” Williams said.

The programs are funded with a limiting budget of $250,000 per year, primarily allocated for instructor facilitation in end-of-program capstone courses. Due to the size of the student body, this funding buys limited instructor interaction and dictates group projects instead of individual assessments. While program outcomes are consistent with in-residence programs, achieved learning levels are lower.

An increase in the budget would greatly benefit the course by allowing individual grading of short-answer discussion questions could be introduced, retaining group interaction while moving away from group projects and facilitation would be further increased to allow for robust individual assessments, eliminating multiple choice testing altogether.

If the ARC paid for these changes, it could be viewed as a reserve only course and one of the command chief’s top priorities is to ensure all Airmen could benefit from this change, according to Nunez.

While the experience of taking an in-residence course will never be the same as online, the content can be delivered in an equally effective way and still accommodate all airmen regardless of the component.

“There should only be one standard, not an active-duty standard or a guard standard,” Nunez explained.

The Air Force's focus on redefining its approach to EPME-DL demonstrates its commitment to building a force prepared for the challenges of a new era of competition and ability to empower its multi-capable Airmen through mission command, agility, and unity of effort across the board.