We love Andrew's approach to PME. The Cove is designed so that you can get our new content through app notifications or social media regularly and fit small bits of PME into your daily routine and build your #intellectual edge slowly and in little pieces during your career.
Being honest with yourself
As we're well into the second half of 2022, it is important to ask yourself 'are you hitting your self-improvement goals for 2022?' If the answer is yes… Great, keep going! However; if you are falling behind for whatever reason, you still have time to adjust your priorities to ensure profession military education (PME) is still being achieved. This self-reflection time is an important process, where you can make an honest assessment of ourselves over several areas whether it be fitness, home life, leadership, time management… the list goes on.
Some may find it quite manageable to set time aside for self-development and improving our knowledge across military matters, whereas others find it hard to fit in any time at all amongst demanding roles at work, family, or other factors. No matter what your circumstance are, you are in control of prioritising your capacity for self-improvement, so you need to make sure PME is given some priority so that it is being achieved.
PME is promoted from the very top. See the Chief of Army's Directive 22/17: Implementation of Army’s Professional Military Education Strategy and Evolving an Intellectual Edge. Besides being told to spend time on PME, here are some good reasons why we should we invest time in PME:
- take pride in the fact you’re improving yourself in the profession of arms
- become more adaptive in the face of adversity by understanding alternatives to the norm
- remember the past while also embracing and adapting to our changing world
- be recognised as a valuable member of the team as well as competitiveness for your career path (posting)
- provoke us to think outside the day-to-day duties that often absorb us
- develop the power of analysis and critical thinking skills that makes us consider how things can be done better
- promotion courses will provide enough knowledge to meet the pre-requisites for promotion along with everyone else; however, to excel in your profession you need to immerse yourself with additional military knowledge
When we decide we are going to set our valuable time aside to better our military knowledge, we want to be sure that we are studying materials and topics that gives good ‘bang for buck’. In many instances we want to read about something that directly relates to what we do; however, as you continue down the path of PME you can easily develop a hunger to improve your knowledge in other interesting topics outside your immediate area of expertise. Think about what naturally interests you and think about the areas where you know your military knowledge is lacking so that you can target materials that are going to meet your needs.
Rather than blindly picking up a book or downloading online material, have a think about what you want to read now and where you want to improve your knowledge in the future. If you are a person who struggles to prioritise time for PME, start treating PME as more of a lifestyle decision and not just a fad where it starts too hard and you give up because of competing time commitments. Take a sensible approach to time management to minimise the risk of losing motivation with competing priorities.
Keeping up with a changing world
Chief of Army released Army in Motion – Accelerated Warfare Statement in Oct 2020, describing that Army needs to be comfortable with continual change, where we are ready for today’s operations while preparing to be future ready. In order to be future ready, we need to understand what is happening around us. PME gives us better insight into a whole range of topics that make us comfortable with change and help us to make more informed decisions by better understanding what is happening around us. i.e. what are potential adversaries doing? What are coalition partners doing? Where is technology taking us? How is your trade adapting to change?
Here are a list of topics (in no particular order) to consider when planning where to focus your PME efforts:
- command and leadership
- art of war
- science of war
- joint warfare
- creative thinking
- professional ethics
- strategy and doctrine
- global environment (near region and further abroad)
- cyber security
- innovation and adaption
- future warfare
- amphibious operations
- contemporary security contexts
- technology and capability
- military history (general and recent conflicts)
- Australian Army history
- culture and conflict
- and much more!
PME reading materials
Remember not to limit your choice of PME reading materials to just one source. There are many types of materials available, so be sure to consider these when looking for PME material. Some examples include:
- on-line courses
- audio books
- films and documentaries
There are numerous reading lists available, such as the Chief of Army’s reading list and reading lists on The Cove which will help you understand the wide selection of books that are readily available. Reading lists are also often provided within pre-course material during lead-up to a promotion course and some corps/brigades/units also provide suggested read lists. Coalition partners provide a variety of reading lists too, accessible from open-source websites.
The choice of PME materials is wide, so it is important to understand what’s out there. Consider where you want your PME to take you so you can make better choices of what to study. The references below contain a number of reading lists, links to self-paced learning as well as links to military related sites containing journals, blogs and other information. Browsing these links does not take long and you will soon get a feel for just what is readily available to you.
Army Lessons (DPN only)
Army Lessons provides a range of useful and interesting reading material. It contains all past Smart Soldier publications, Command publications (providing tips from JNCOs to LTCOLs), Knowledge 4 Actions newsletter, Army’s largest collection of quick decision exercises (with many solutions), and a lessons database with many thousands of documents, observations, insights and lessons. You can access Army Lessons Online via the DPN search function.
The Cove is an online professional development network for the Australian Army that is on the internet, thereby allowing access to PME anywhere, and anytime. It is a website with supporting mobile apps, designed to connect Defence members together into a professional network, based on their professional interests and/or level of experience. It provides quality resources with new content published daily.
COVE+ is the Australian Army’s professional development program and is open to all serving uniformed members of the Australian Army – regardless of rank, trade, SERCAT or corps. The aim of COVE+ is to enhance the intellectual component of fighting power in order to improve the Army's capacity to apply force, or threaten to apply force, against an adversary in the land domain.
Australian Defence online training platform.
The Forge is an online hub designed to help build and hone the intellectual edge of those involved in the profession of arms. This innovative approach to military education is being delivered by the Australian Defence College (ADC), an institution which facilitates the professional mastery of members of the Defence organisation.
The AJDSS recognises the fundamentally shifting strategic environment facing Australia, both globally and in our region; and that this is occurring in parallel with rapidly changing social, technological, economic and political challenges. The AJDSS aims not only to identify emerging trends and future concerns but also to interrogate their implications and examine a range of possible responses.
Grounded Curiosity seeks to share ideas and lessons for the profession of arms, focused on junior leaders. It is a culture of professional curiosity from the ground-up that underpins our adaptive action, mission command, and critical thinking.
Red Team Reading List: How to Succeed by Thinking like the Enemy.
Focuses on APS learning and development and contains valuable links that are relevant to Army such as:
- Linked in Learning: Learning aimed at developing professional and personal skills
- Build on you: designed to grow your capability across key future focused capabilities
- Build on us: team based learning programs designed for small teams
- Leadership program offerings: pathway for up-skilling to become an effective leader in Defence
Categories covered include:
- Strategic Environment
- Regional Studies
- History and Military History
- Army Profession
The Modern War Institute at West Point generates new knowledge for the profession of arms and provides the US Army and the nation with an intellectual resource for solving military problems.
- Australian War Memorial
- US Army Center of Military History
- British Military History
- Canadian Military History
- New Zealand History
The CSIS is a bipartisan, non-profit policy research organisation dedicated to advancing practical ideas to address global challenges. Many of the blogs/articles have been written with a military context.
Professional insights on contemporary issues and events.
Small Wars Journal facilitates the exchange of information among practitioners, thought leaders, and students of small wars, in order to advance knowledge and capabilities in the field.
The Strategy Bridge is a non-profit organisation focused on the development of people in strategy, national security, & military affairs.
NDU Press is the NDU's cross-component, professional military and academic publishing house. Publications consist of journals, books, and other materials that further scholarly investigation, encourage creative thinking, stimulate debate and contribute to joint war fighter education.
Many soldiers/officers are going to have different PME needs and that means different reading materials. What you spend your time on now will be largely dependent on your personal drive to learn more and your current level of military acumen.
When we begin our military careers it can be like ‘drinking from a fire hose’ as we prepare for our new role. The thought of PME can seem like a stretch. As we progress through our careers, PME becomes increasingly relevant as we develop our intellect across military matters while also striving for the competitive edge which is required to make sure we are hitting our desired career goals. Ensure you plan your PME properly and take the time to browse the references available so that you progress through your PME journey well informed.