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Being prepared: train for the known, educate for the unknown

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Brady McCoy
  • Top 3 vice president
Throughout our careers we have all attended training, whether it is for pre-deployment, annual ancillary or new ideas the Air Force has developed. This past October, while at the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., I was sitting in a lecture given by Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Hurt, a SNCO Academy instructor.

Our class had been tasked with a five-page paper on any topic of our choice. My group chose enlisted promotion and current requirements for an associate's degree through the Community College of the Air Force to qualify for senior rater endorsement. We were having a discussion on this topic about how the only rank that requires a degree for promotion is senior master sergeant, but to become a SNCO you don't have to have a one. How backward is that when AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, clearly states that SNCOs should have completed their degree and continue their off-duty education.

Opinions were shared and Hurt told us this, "training is for the known; education helped us prepare for the unknown."

That really struck a chord with me. The reasons why we needed education had been summed up in that one statement; I finally felt as if someone else got it too. I am not sure who coined the phrase first, but Hurt made it stick. The simple fact we have been through years of repetitive but useful training has made us very proficient at our jobs, however, with education, we could be limitless.

I look back as a security forces Airman; I can honestly say education made a huge impact on how I look at things outside of my day-to-day duties. Education prepared me for the unknown. It has helped me look around normal barriers and think of new ways to engage tasks and guide my subordinates to become better leaders. A short 19 years ago, I started a journey as a one striper and am now a senior master sergeant preparing to start a master's degree in management. I look back and reflect on the gratitude I have for all the NCO and SNCOs who prepared me over the years.

Last month at the 90th Missile Wing Combat Dining-In, Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Allston, U.S. Strategic Command senior enlisted leader, delivered a speech that re-charged us all in the development of our Airmen and NCOs, who will follow us and some day take our place. I am confident the enlisted leaders around the Air Force and within the 90th MW will be very successful in this charge - it is about being prepared, and education is just the beginning.

My advice to Airman is to strive to be the best: You can't truly be your best if you don't chase education down. Whether it's a formal degree, online training courses or any education outside of daily duties, it will expand your skill set and make you better. Training does prepare us for the known, but education will definitely keep us in position to be the most powerful air and space force known to mankind as we move into the unknown.