Advance readiness by advancing education

  • Published
  • By Maj. Scott D. Suter, Medical Readiness Flight Commander
  • 88th Medical Support Squadron

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The great and influential scientist Albert Einstein once said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

As our teams work tirelessly to solve new problems in cyber and space domains; outpace our peer competition across, by, with and through all instruments of national power; and foster collaborative and cohesive work environments, an emphasis must continue to be placed on education and opportunities to increase our skill sets.

To help our forces achieve their missions, senior leaders competitively select a handful of high-performing officers every year to attend Air Command and Staff College, a program designed to enhance effectiveness and prepare leaders for future operational-level command or staff positions. Upon graduation, a master’s degree in military operational art and science is conferred, along with Joint Professional Military Education credit.

While this may be widely known across the Air Force, how many know this program is in fact available to everyone?

The Air Force believes so strongly in the development of young field grade officers, specifically in the areas of joint warfare and leadership, that an online master’s program was established for major selects and majors on active duty or the Reserve and Air National Guard. Even better, this opportunity is also available to our Air Force civilian employees in grades GS-12 and GS-13.

After being selected for promotion to major, I immediately enrolled in ACSC’s online master’s program to ensure I was given the best opportunity to further develop as an Air Force officer, leader and operational planner – and contribute to the Air Force Medical Service Corps.

My experience in this program has been nothing short of outstanding, learning from military and civilian peers across the joint force as well as the instructors, each of whom possessed significant expertise in the subject matter they are leading. In total, it consisted of 10 courses (each was eight weeks), and the whole program took about two years to complete.

Each course’s workload was very manageable, and instructors worked with every student’s unique duty schedule or personal demands. Similar to the condensed ACSC correspondence program, students interacted via a discussion board regarding the topic and readings for the week, and then concluded each course with an essay on a predetermined and relevant subject.

In addition to completing all the coursework, a final research thesis must be submitted for graduation. Students select the topic – approved by faculty – and it has the potential to be reviewed by senior leaders throughout the joint force.

I used this opportunity to research more about how we can better train today’s Air Force critical care medics for tomorrow’s casualties, focusing on ways our organization (both the Defense Health Agency and Air Force) may need to evolve to advance clinical currency in support of wartime readiness.

Following Gen. CQ Brown Jr.’s “action order” focused on ensuring Airmen have the attributes required to compete, deter and win in a high-end fight, ACSC’s online master’s program is a pathway for some of our most critical thinkers to guide and influence this era of accelerated change. Through this program, I have greatly enhanced my peer network, deepened my understanding of joint forces and doctrine, and am better prepared for the “Practice of Command” (my favorite course).

I am proud to be a recent graduate of this incredible opportunity. Take advantage of the challenge and rewards this program offers. I look forward to assisting anyone interested.