Joint Professional Military Education Phase I

We all know the career milestone buzzword, JPME-I, but what, actually, does it require?  JPME-I is the completion of three master’s level courses in Joint Maritime Operations, Strategy and War and National Security and Decision Making.  Generally you have to be an O-3 or senior to apply.  We’ll discuss JPME-II and Joint Qualified Officers in other segments.   

A few of my compadres at the NOSC have wondered aloud about JPME I programs and if they are really worthwhile or a giant paperwork drill.  Most of us are caught between RADM Wray’s inputs about what’s important for promotion and You “being your own kind of SWO.”  Clearly, its up to you and how much time you are willing to invest in your reserve career.  However, the AC detailer page lists JPME I as a requirement for O-5’s to complete prior to assuming URL CDR command.  Thus, it isn’t hard to see the SRC leadership follow suit attributing importance to JPME-I completion as a gatekeeper for ascending the ranks.

What has changed are the delivery methods.  No longer do you have to devote a solid eighteen months of time to take orders and go to the Naval War College or any other National Defense University program that requires you to totally interrupt your life.  The residence method is the old-school method, but if you’re interested, it is still available.  There are also four other non-traditional resident opportunities: Fleet Seminar programs, the Web-Enabled Program, the CD-ROM Program and the Operational Support/Reserve Course accelerator option

In-Residence Program:
Time – 18 months
Masters Degree Eligible
If you need to take an extended period, hit the beach at Monterey or hone your sailing skills in Newport then pack your deck shoes and sunscreen (remember your uniform, too).  There are billets available for in-residence programs and RUMINT has it that many billets have gone unfilled over the years. Work with your detailer and see what’s available.

*Disclaimer: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. You’re a SWO. You know this.  The Navy will take back its pound of flesh as it sees fit, when it sees fit.  Be advised that the AC detailers clearly state that per Title 10, the National Defense Universities may require a follow-on Joint Tour upon graduation.  I’m just making sure your eyes are wide open before you pull the trigger.

Time – 2-3 years
Masters Degree Eligible if accepted to Graduate Program with additional requirements

Fleet Seminar programs are essentially the JPME curriculum delivered at a fleet concentration area.  As an example, NSA Midsouth (Millington) has one for the all the folks at PERS and CNRC to complete their milestone check-in-the-box and other places are listed here.  As a quick rule of thumb, if its got a full sized NEX, Commissary and Navy College Office, you can probably get your JPME I done there, just inquire at the local Navy College office.  To complete the program, you have to complete 102 weekly 3-hour sessions in each of the three areas listed in the introduction.  

This is best suited for those who work near a base and want to complete in a classroom environment with a live instructor.  It will take longer than the other options, but can also land you a master’s degree from the Naval War College if you work it right and take additional courses.  If you don’t already have an advanced degree, this is also a nice to have for promotion.   

Time 15-18 months
No Available Masters Eligibility
Web Enabled Programs are a great resource and limit the amount of unnecessary Navy nonsense that you have to endure to complete your JPME-I.  If you’ve taken a distance learning course for a graduate or undergraduate degree in the last few years, this will have a familiar feel.  There are readings which you are required to post on and then group sessions that require you to participate on “the online.”  As the term “Web Enabled” would imply, you have to have access to a reliable high speed internet connection to interface with your professor and cohort.  
The professors are generally flexible if you have an unpredictable work life, and they will work with you around your schedule.  Be proactive, communicate often and demonstrate to them that you are serious about getting this done.  Remember, many of the Naval War College professors are retired or former military personnel who wanted to continue to serve their country as civilians training the next generations of military leadership.  They’ve been there and they know what life is like juggling a profession, family etc. and they want you to succeed.
Time 12 months
No Available Masters
*Must not have reliable internet for the Web Enable Program:
The CD-ROM program is the oldest version of correspondence learning.  They send you the textbooks.  You teach yourself the material. Write the papers.  Send it back with three cereal box tops and in 3-6 weeks they’ll mail you a JPME-I Certificate and a magic decoder ring.  Way over simplified and dated? Yes (people born after 1985 totally missed the “box tops” comment).  But you understand the basic concept.  
NWC would prefer that you participate and interact with professors and other students.  You’ll probably learn more that way, BUT if your civilian job finds you afloat on a barge in the middle of a large inland waterway (north of the Huey P. Long Bridge) without even a cellphone signa,l then this could work for you.  Again, communication is key.  You’re not all alone, Advisors are happy to help straighten out rough spots so that you can move on to completion.  The time requirement is estimated at 4-6 hours per week.  Courses are accredited up to four graduate credits which can be accepted by many civilian universities.  

Operational Support/Reserve Course.  I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to figure out whhat we were advertising here. This option allows you to complete portions of the  JPME phases while in Newport for 12 days.  You can complete all of the  Strategy and War requirement,  50% of the Theater Decision Making and only 30% of the Joint Military Operations portion.  Each course is offered once per year and  requires board selection.  Lets do more paperwork to do less paperwork…Yippee! But, it could be a good way to knock out big chunks of JPME-I if you’ve got the flexibility I’m your civilian life.

Apparently, not all National Defense Universities were created equal. “Distance Learning through the Air University Air Command And Staff College (AU ACSC) is accredited for JPME I, however DISTANCE LEARNING THROUGH THE AIR WAR COLLEGE (the Air Force Senior College) IS NOT ACCREDITED FOR JPME I!!!” (Direct quote from the NPC public page on education)

Bottom Line: You can complete JPME-I via distance through the USAF, but choose wisely.   Leave it to the Army Air Corps to have a JPME-I look alike program from the local greenskeeper’s career college.  I’m sorry, but an airbus driver who hits a sand wedge out of a bunker into the air, rolls it across a green and into a water hazard does not qualify for completion of JPME-I. Is the Air Force even Constitutional?

I digress.  

In Conclusion

Congratulations you made it to the end! the gist of this article is that JPME-I is going to become an evermore important element of your promotion package, so you should look into each of these options and decide which is the best for you, your family and civilian career.  Remember that it is your career and that no one will manage it but you.  If you have any amplifying information, or have a personal experience about completing JPME-I that you feel is worth hearing about. Please leave a comment.


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