By any standard, you can cram a lot of education into six years.
Over that period, a student could earn a bachelor's degree, and a master's (in some fields).
Or, you could earn a B.S. or B.A., and knock out the first two years of law school. Complete medical school and an internship. Finish a pharmacy program, an engineering degree, or the course work, dissertation and oral defense for a PhD.
It's also enough time to complete the U.S. Air Force Senior NCO Academy--by correspondence.
According to Air University (which runs the service's professional military education programs), the correspondence version of the senior NCO course now has an "open enrollment" period that won't exceed 72 months. Previously, NCOs in grades E-7 through E-9 had just one year to complete the program.
The change affects Course 12 of the program, which provides curricula via CD-ROM and Course 14, the on-line version. Students who previously had a one-year completion requirement can now re-enroll and take advantage of the new, open enrollment policy.
Tech. Sgt. Travis Pannell, Headquarters CEPME distance learning course manager at Gunter Annex said the policy will help all eligible Airmen complete the course while accommodating deployments and other service responsibilities.
"For students with current active enrollment who are concerned about restrictions or disenrollment, they need not worry," Sergeant Pannell said. "Enrollment data will automatically be adjusted to meet the new policy."
No one doubts the value of professional military education (PME) for non-commissioned officers. Indeed, you can make the case that the Air Force needs to increase PME for mid-level and senior NCOs, given the fact that officers receive far more professional education than their enlisted counterparts.
But 72 months to complete the correspondence version of the Senior NCO Academy? Give me a break. If officers can finish the equivalent versions of Air Command and Staff College or the Air War College in one year, there's no reason to increase the timeline for senior NCOs. I've never heard a non-commissioned officer complain that he couldn't complete the course under the old, 12-month timeline, even with the demands of deployments and other responsibilities.
In fact, the deployment argument rings a bit hollow. While some Air Force career fields constantly deploy (EOD specialists, combat controllers, pararescuemen and enlisted AWACS technicians come to mind), other career fields are tasked less frequently. In fact, the service's own statistics show that 53% of all airmen have never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan (emphasis mine).
Using that yardstick, I'd say that a lot of senior NCOs have plenty of time to finish their PME by correspondence. But, we'll leave the final word on the subject to a retired Chief Master Sergeant, one of the great enlisted leaders produced by the Air Force over the last 20 years. He could not contain his anger in an e-mail response on the policy change:
I finished the NCOA [NCO Academy] Correspondence Course in two months and the SNCOA Correspondence Course in three months. Anyone that can't finish that in 12 months does not need to be in our MILITARY!
Unholy Moron Batman -- where and when does the STUPIDITY END? I think we need a "Kinder & Gentler" Fitness Standard that will allow Lard Butts to stay for 20, 30, 40, and 50 years! More Limited Duty Morons that can only be assigned here in the Promised Land while all of US Deploy to Remotes from Hell. More Pansies that cannot carry a Weapon! More CONVICTS that cannot be Trusted. Yes Sir Ree Boob America, send US your Sorry, Sick, Lame, and Lazy Crap! We'll give them a Paycheck for 30 years and Pension for 50 more sorry years!
Well said, Chief. The new, open enrollment isn't an accommodation. It's an insult.