Barnes Center remodeling CLC, building new courses for senior enlisted

  • Published
  • By Sophie Ryan
  • Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education

The Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Course, the professional military education course for the Air Force’s top enlisted rank, is going through some changes to its structure and curriculum.

The current course design does not provide a deliberate pathway to develop strategic enlisted leaders, said CLC Commandant Chief Master Sgt. Michael Wester.

“The existing CLC attempts to develop leaders to operate at tactical through strategic levels,” he said. “Course analysis indicates the content provides strategic depth that is not relevant for a majority of chiefs who will operate mainly in the tactical and operational dimensions, while being too broad for the select chief master sergeants that will operate in the strategic arena.” 

To provide senior enlisted leaders with more-targeted development, the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Air University is reshaping the CLC and offering two additional courses for select students.

The beta test for the revised CLC began Sept. 14, 2020, and is scaled down from four weeks of in-resident engagement to two weeks. The course targets active duty chiefs within one year of promotion selection, with Air National Guard and Air Reserve slots allocated on a competitive basis.

One of the two new educational offerings being built is the Group Superintendent Course, a one-week class that undergoes a beta test in January 2021. This course involves collaboration with the Ira C. Eaker Center for Leadership Development, also at Air University. The GSC is for chiefs serving in group superintendent positions and will run in tandem with the Eaker Center’s Group Commander’s Course. The focus of the GSC will be on preparing students for operational roles and is targeted for recently assigned superintendents or chiefs who are vectored for those positions. Those attending the GSC will be able to take advantage of a shared learning environment with colonels enrolled in the GCC.

The other new course, the advanced Strategic Leader Course, is for chief master sergeants engaged at the highest levels of enlisted leadership, such as staff positions at major commands, higher headquarters, joint assignments, and career field manager positions. The beta test for the SLC is scheduled for August 2021.

Kyle Robinette, the director of education for the CLC, said that the driving force behind these changes is the need to better prepare chiefs to lead and execute in a rapidly changing security environment.

“The 2018 National Defense Strategy significantly shifted the focus of the entire Department of Defense,” he explained. “The philosophy of professional military education has to adapt in order to prepare today’s leaders for tomorrow’s war, which will be discernably different than the conflicts we engaged in for the last 30 years. Our new CLC construct aims to do just that by helping chiefs understand and navigate the new environment.” 

He added that this more agile system of targeted development, inserted into a chief’s career at the right time, is more relevant to the modern senior enlisted leader than the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the past.  

For more information about the Barnes Center and its enlisted PME programs, visit