PME Resources

Developing the Military Professional for an Era of Accelerated Warfare: The FORCOMD PME Plan 2020-2025

By Greg Colton May 21, 2020


Commander Forces Command has issued a new directive on Professional Military Education (PME). This short post from SO1 PME explains what the FORCOMD PME plan is and how you can use it. 
Context

The genesis of PME in the Australian Army was the Ryan Review of 2016. This comprehensive examination of training and education across the Army led to the Chief of Army’s PME Strategy of 2017. The strategy established The Cove, provided guidance to commanders, and set out a framework for the inculcation of PME as an essential element of developing the land force. Importantly, it also inextricably linked PME to doctrine through explaining how PME enhances the intellectual component of fighting power. As such, PME is now a core component of how we prepare land power to contribute to the joint force.

Strategic direction has continued to evolve in the two years since the launch of the Chief of Army’s PME Strategy. Since 2017, the Chief of Army has published three keystone documents: Army in Motion, Accelerated Warfare and Army’s Contribution to Defence Strategy. Additionally, the Australian Defence College has developed a Joint PME Continuum which clearly sets out the responsibilities and roles of the single services in support of the college. As an Army, it was time to take stock of not only whether we had been successful in implementing the initial direction, but also to determine how best we support the Army deliver a future workforce that is able to rise to the challenges of the future operating environment envisaged in Accelerated Warfare.

Developing the Military Professional in an Era of Accelerated Warfare

The Directorate of Army Education has spent the last few months reviewing the outcomes of the Chief of Army’s PME Strategy, the evolving strategic guidance, the delivery of PME across the Army, and where we as an Army need to go in the future. The result is Developing the Military Professional for an Era of Accelerated Warfare: The Forces Command PME Plan 2020-2025.

Some of the key aspects of this comprehensive six-year plan include:

  • Greater access to personal development opportunities for every officer and soldier across the Army - both full-time and part-time - regardless of rank, trade or corps.
  • A futures focused approach, with an emphasis on preparing members of the profession of arms for the challenges of Accelerated Warfare.
  • Enablement of the joint force, with the plan fully nested within the Joint PME Program and focused on delivering the attributes and behaviours described in JPME Training Levels 1 and 2.
  • Partnership with industry to deliver COVE+, a learner-focused model of online education modules available to anyone, at any time in their career. Tranche one will be delivered this year and will consist of the first 70 modules of education, with another five tranches to follow. Tranche 1 alone will deliver over 1,300 hours of self-paced learning that our people can access from five learning clusters:
  1. The Art and Science of Thinking
  2. The Art and Science of War
  3. Leadership, Ethics and Society
  4. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  5. Organisational Management, People and Projects
  • Delivery of effects and activities across four lines of effort:
  1. Individual PME – developing our people so that they can tackle a broader range of more complex problems.
  2. Collective PME – increasing the effectiveness of teams across the Army.
  3. Information, Influence and Advocacy – enabling our people and partners through greater exposure to development opportunities.
  4. Cultural change – supporting the continuous development of an organisation focused on harnessing the abilities of all its people.
  • A six-year longitudinal study into measures of performance, effectiveness, efficiency and impact.
  • A program of continuous improvement and upgrade to the platforms and systems we use to deliver PME, including The Cove and Cove App.
So how can I use the FORCOMD PME Plan?

Firstly, you can read it! We have deliberately kept it short and have included a useful glossary of terms up front so that we are all talking the same language. It really shouldn’t take longer than about ten-fifteen minutes to read.

Once you have read it, consider some of the practical ways in which the plan, or some of the effects we are delivering, can support you personally and the teams you work in or lead. Some of these might be:

  • Download the Cove App. This is probably the simplest, and most effective, way you can proactively access PME – and it’s FREE! For about 90 secs work of accessing the Apple or Google Stores, you can have readily accessible PME in your pocket and notifications when we post new articles on The Cove. Some will interest you, some won’t. That’s fine – read the ones that do and ignore the ones that don’t (or even better, read the ones that don’t and broaden your knowledge base).
  • Use The Cove. The Cove has been publishing new articles daily for over three years. It is a library of resources you can use. Best of all, many of the articles are the experiences or opinions of members of the Army, with over 20% of the articles in the last two years written by other ranks. Junior leaders – sat at the back of a range or found yourself with some breezeway time? Why not get your team to read an article and then conduct a discussion about it? Get your soldiers to contest ideas, articulate arguments for or against the article, and invest in their profession. There are also Collective Training packages which even provide you with guides and questions for group discussions. If nothing else, it will make you all look busy when the CSM comes around!
  • Look out for COVE+. We will be launching COVE+ in the next couple of months on ADELE(U). Look out for the announcements on The Cove and through the chain of command. Have a look and see if there is a module that interests you. With over 70 to choose from, at three different levels, there should be something for most people.
  • Develop and deliver your own PME. Looking to develop and deliver PME at the unit, sub-unit or team level? Consider using the methodology and the five learning clusters in the FORCOMD PME Plan as the start point for your development. The team at The Cove are always happy for you to get in touch if you would like any advice.
  • Support Cultural Change. The Army will only achieve its potential when we allow our people to achieve theirs. How are you encouraging your people to develop themselves? Are there ways in which you can support their development and empower them, such as assigning them topics to research and have them present to others in the team? Do you encourage them to think about complex problems themselves, or is it just quicker to tell them how to do something? If every leader in the Army actively encouraged their subordinates to invest in their own intellectual development, and made space for them to provide greater contributions based on what they learned, we would go a long way towards creating a workforce able to thrive in an era of Accelerated Warfare.
Conclusion

The Army has built a solid foundation for PME based on the Ryan Review and the Chief of Army’s PME Strategy of 2017. The Forces Command PME Plan, Developing the Military Professional for an Era of Accelerated Warfare, builds on this foundation and creates a comprehensive way forward that maximises our people’s access to quality through-career development regardless of rank, trade, SERCAT or corps.

It does this through delivering JPME Training Levels 1 and 2 across the Army, so that individuals can tackle a broader range of more complex problems and so that the organisation can prepare land power to enable the joint force. It places particular emphasis on providing opportunities for our soldiers and junior NCOs, who are the lifeblood of the Army. As such, it not only supports our people, but it also belongs to them. The only question remaining is, are you prepared to invest in both yourself and in the Australian profession of arms?

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To access the Forces Command PME Plan 2020-2025 click the link below:


Portrait

Biography

Greg Colton

Greg Colton is an infantry officer with 18 years’ experience in both the British and Australian armies, including operational service in Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Pacific. Greg has had range of regimental, instructional and staff postings and recently took a years’ sabbatical to accept a Research Fellowship at the Lowy Institute, Australia’s leading international policy think-tank. While at the Lowy Institute he ran a Defence funded project examining drivers of instability in the Pacific. On his return to the Army, Greg assumed his current position as SO1 Professional Military Education at Forces Command. He is also Director of The Cove.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.



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