MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Service members and station residents gathered inside Talbot’s Dining Room to celebrate the 2014 College of Distance Education and Training Command and Staff, Expeditionary Warfare School and U.S. Naval War College graduates aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, June 4.
For all Marines, professional military education is a necessary factor for promotion. Like enlisted Marines, officers are required to attend courses through Marine Corps University for PME completion.
“PME is so important to what we do as a Marine Corps,” said Col. Robert Boucher, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni and guest speaker for the event. “Compared to other branches, who are experts in their one field, Marines learn a lot more than just their military occupational specialty. We know at least a little about all of the occupations, which sets us apart.”
The graduating Marines were part of the CDET due to their overseas duty station.
“Normally, officers are sent to Marine Corps Base Camp Quantico, Virginia, where CDET is located, for a year of resident schooling,” said Maj. Alexander Roloff, an instructor for the Expeditionary Warfare School. “The Marines here, instead of going to the residential school, complete a two year program conducted aboard station.”
Students with CDET attended a three hour class every week for a full academic year aboard station, on top of their day-to-day job, explained Roloff.
“It is tough to have a day job and then muster the strength to study that night or write a paper on the weekend,” said Boucher during his speech. “It takes a dedicated person to combine all of those things, over a short time, and get it all done.”
In the past, the school was a “box of books,” said Roloff. Instead of seminars or classes, students would read on their own, fill out a scantron and send the exam for a grade with very little outside interaction.
“That kind of learning is really ineffective because you don’t get the input from all the other Marines,” said Roloff. “Now, we use a seminar format where they do the reading, then come into class, with a basic understanding, ready to talk about it. This way, they receive the benefit of their classmate’s experiences.”
Roloff said another major benefit of seminars is Marines have the opportunity to apply what they learned.
“Many times, they spent 10 hours, over a two or three day period, putting together a warfighting problem that helps build on the knowledge they acquired,” said Roloff.
The 2014 CDET graduates worked diligently to receive their diplomas, but it is just a matter of time before they are back to school, said Roloff.
“Learning is continuous for all Marines,” said Roloff. “Once these officers receive their diplomas, it’s not long before they are starting the next school and preparing for their next rank.”