Inspired by the articles ‘PME in the Mess – The Anglesea Barracks Experience’ and ‘PME at the Royal Australia Corps of Signals Officers Mess – Simpson Barracks’, the CO/CI of the School of Artillery (SOArty) directed that a PME program be conducted at the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery Regimental Officers Mess (RAAROM). Whilst the program is in its infancy, it is hoped that this article will help add to the debate on how to conduct effective PME within units.
The RAAROM is located within Bridges Barracks, Puckapunyal - a barracks that is home to the Combined Arms Training Centre (CATC) and the SOArty. CATC’s full-time and reserve officers are part of the RAAROM; the total number of mess members (excluding students) is approximately 50.
The PME program’s aim was to develop the intellectual capabilities of the officers as part of a drive towards increased professional mastery. This is in response to the findings and recommendation of the Ryan Review as well as the Chief of Army Directives 09/16 and 22/17. The PME program also enabled the CO SOArty to reinforce the importance of the RAAROM to RAA Officers; 'it is more than simply a place to eat and drink, it is also an environment in which to exchange ideas.'
What did we do?
The CO appointed PME staff to draft the PME program; the staff then established contact with Claire Von Wald A/SO1 PME HQ FORCOMD, to discuss ideas. Based on those discussions we established a model of fortnightly PME sessions, occurring in the RAAROM. These sessions would encompass a variety of means and topics including fireside chats (e.g. The Battle of Midway, AI & robotics, operational experiences), book reviews (e.g. Old Man’s War, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot who Changed the Art of War), movie reviews (e.g. Downfall, Breaker Morant) and more formal lessons (PAR writing, roles of officers and NCOs), covering technical, instructional and practical aspects of officer development.
The CO then released his PME Directive on 14 Mar 18 which provided direction and command support to the conduct of PME as a directed activity. Every SOArty officer was given a topic and activity to conduct, but was also given the freedom to suggest a topic of their own interest and de-conflict the delivery of this with PME staff.
To date, PME sessions have included lieutenants on RAA ROBC participating alongside SOArty and CATC officers. Future sessions are also planned which will include the Sergeant’s Mess and visiting lecturers from wider Defence and industry, with an update on our ‘lessons learned’. Overall, the SOArty is committed to provide a PME program that develops its officer's desire to participate and that genuinely encourages development.