The Army is overhauling its PME, making classes tougher and more performance-based. Coming soon, soldiers will be graded on their work and maintain a grade-point average in their record. Soldiers will also be ranked by class — good news if you’re smart, bad news if you struggle with your studies.The Army is also looking to include a writing assessment before every professional military education course.
I’m not entirely sure the emphasis on writing is what’s really needed for the NCO education system. It smacks of changing the syllabus for the sake of change. Some of the other changes make a lot of sense (such as dropping the silly “Warriors Leader Course” title in favor of Basic Leader Course. The Army goes through these occasional fads where everything gets named Warrior this or Warrior that. Or playing Lee Greenwood at every damn event.
At any rate, for a generation, the Army has tied promotion to successful completion of NCO education, usually via a resident course that lasts 4-6 weeks. And the courses were, in fact, quite valuable training, giving the NCO insight into the tasks they’d be expected to perform, not so much as a tactical or technical sense, but on the administrative side, or training management.
Unfortunately, the operational tempo of Iraq and Afghanistan led to units not willing to send NCOs to school during the training cycle before a deployment (and most certainly not during the deployment). That led to waivers for education, and meant some NCOs were less than wholly qualified for their positions. Coupled with shorter time in grade averages, that dumbed down the NCO corps somewhat. The Army has a challenge bringing that standard back up.