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A New Paradigm for Submarine Junior Officer

Lieutenant Marty’s paper won The Naval Submarine League Essay Con1est for his class at the Submarine Officers Advanced Course. He is currently the Weapons Officer aboard USS NEBRASKA (SSBN 739).

In 1987, Congress passed the Goldwater Nichols Act requiring cooperation among the United States Armed Services. Included in this act was a new requirement that all officers promoted to flag rank must have served in a Joint Duty Assignment. (Over one-third of these billets require the completion of Joint Professional Military Education as a prerequisite). At the time the bill was passed only 25 submariners had served in a Joint Duty Assignment, so a temporary exemption was granted for the submariners to be promoted. Since this extension expired on January 1, 1997, the Submarine Force has been encouraging Joint Qualification by new opportunities to attend Joint Professional Education (JPME) courses.

The Goal

In order to be qualified and designated as a Joint Specialty Officer, the following milestones must be met:

1) Completion of Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) either by completing a War College resident program or completing JPME Phase l at any U.S. Service College and Phase II at the Armed Forces Staff College.
2) Completion of a qualifying Joint Duty Assignment (JOA).
3) Selection by the Navy Joint Specialty Officer Selection Board.
4) Approval by the Secretary of Defense.

Joint qualification is tracked in Block 72 of the Officer Data Card. This block contains Additional Qualification Designators, or AQDs, showing the progress of joint qualification. No Officer Data Card entry is made until one of the milestones is completed. The reference to interpret the codes on the ODC and get a good brief of Joint QuaJification is the annual Career Issue of Perspectives, published each January-February.

The Program

Joint ProfessionaJ Military Education Phase I may be obtained through the NavaJ War College by completing three courses; Strategy and Policy, National Security Decision Making, and Joint Military Operations. The courses are presented in two forms-a non-resident seminar course and a correspondence course. An excellent guide to these courses in the United States Nava] War College Nonresident Programs Information Guide, a 50-page pamphlet published annually, is available through the NavaJ War College.

Seminar courses are normally held at larger bases, or fleet concentration areas one evening per week September through April, generally three hours per session. While preparation time varies, a thorough preparation generally takes approximately six to ten hours per week in addition to class time, test-taking, and paper writing. A major emphasis in the seminar course is effective participation in the weekly seminars. Normally, several papers and tests are assigned, with papers being six to twelve pages in length and tests both of the take-home and in-class variety. Seminars range from class discussions to speakers from the NWC.

Topics covered in the courses include the following:

Strategy and Policy examine Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Mahan, and a history of the war from the Peloponnesian War through current strategy dilemmas.

National Security Decision Making examines the budgeting process, decision-making models, and strategy and force planning.

Joint Military Operations focuses on operational art, individual military force doctrine, joint operations planning, and culminates with a war game.

Joint Military Operations focuses on operational art, individual military force doctrine, joint operations planning, and culminates with a war game.

After completing JPME Phase I, Joint ProfessionaJ Military Education Phase II may be obtained at the Armed Forces Staff College-possibly between assignments on the way to a joint billet.

Reasons to Pursue JPME

In Joint Vision 2010, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gives his view of joint education: ” … without sacrificing their basic service competitiveness, these future leaders must be schooled in Joint Operations from the beginning of their careers.”

One good reason to pursue the education is self-interest. These courses are interesting, not only from a historical perspective, but also from a leadership and management perspective. During the study of Clausewitz in Strategy and Policy, the student learns leadership and the roles of subordinates in supporting the commanding officer. In National Security and Decision Making and Joint Maritime Operations, the student gets perhaps his first exposure to the budget process, force planning, and the study of joint operations. This information is interesting and valuable to any officer.

JPME can also serve as a stepping stone to a Master’s Degree. Completing the non-resident seminar courses earns the student 21 graduate credits accredited by the New England Accreditation Board. Several colleges offer programs to count these credits toward a MA degree, including a Newport college, Salve Regina University. This school accepts 18 credits toward a Master’s Degree and also offers the five additional courses (available via correspondence) required for the degree for about $5000 (not taking into account tuition assistance). This could fulfill two objectives for most officers, a Master’s Degree, and JPME Phase I.

Finally, a department head is one of the small group of submariners on board who possess advanced tactical training. The jointly trained officer is very likely to provide unique insight into deployment preparation. Likewise, given today’s missions and the possibility of a come-as-you-are war that will probably involve joint operations, a jointly trained officer is likely to give superior input to the commanding officer.

Junior Officer Milestones

Once deciding to enroll in the JPME Phase I courses, a junior officer must develop a plan of action prior to rolling ashore in order to complete the program during his two-year shore tour and his time at SOAC. The program is designed to take one course per year making it very difficult to complete the three courses. The NWC does allow taking two classes simultaneously with special permission, thereby enabling a motivated JO to finish the courses in two years; however, a JO must effectively plan how to fit the courses in during his shore tour. As already stated, the seminar courses are a considerable amount of work.

Assuming a junior officer completes two of the JPME Phase I courses while onshore tour, whether it be in the Nonresident Seminar Program or through correspondence, he has two opportunities to finish the program while at SOAC. Under a new program, SOAC students are being offered the opportunity to complete Strategy and Policy via a self-paced correspondence course. Approximately 15 percent of the students attending SOAC complete this Strategy and Policy course. If a student has any two courses completed, he could complete the final course via correspondence while at SOAC.

One significantly underutilized option for SOAC students is to complete one or two courses in Newport through the Nonresident Seminar Program. The commute to Newport from Groton is approximately 55 miles, or 80 minutes each way and SOAC classes rarely interfere with attending Newport classes. Although SOAC is six months long, many SOAC students could start courses during their shore tours via correspondence or the non-resident seminars and complete them in the Newport seminar program or vice versa. Not only would SOAC students benefit from attending courses in Newport, but the non-resident seminar courses would greatly benefit by having submariners attend the seminars to provide their unique perspectives.


To promote JPME and make it easier for JOs to complete Phase I onshore tour, the author recommends the following actions for all submarine wardrooms:

1. Junior officers should routinely review both the Submarine Picture and the Joint Section of Perspectives.
2. All wardrooms should obtain a copy of the United States Naval War College Nonresident Programs Infonnation Guide to increase the knowledge of the program. (This guide also provides information on courses presented at bases around the country.)
3. Senior officers familiar with the Joint Professional Military Education program should educate senior JOs ready to roll ashore about the benefits of JPME.

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