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EPME enhances leaders' ability to make decisions in complex situations

Photo by Valerie O'Berry

EPME enhances leaders' ability to make decisions in complex situations

21 Feb 2017 | Valerie O’Berry Marine Corps Base Quantico

The Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME) branch of Marine Corps University (MCU) provides progressive educational opportunities to improve leadership, sharpen critical thinking skills and deepen student understanding of war fighting concepts in distributed and joint environments. The goal is to create ethical and highly professional leaders capable of making sound decisions in complex operational situations.​​

Enlisted PME provided by Marine Corps University is required for promotion from lance corporal through master sergeant or first sergeant. Lance corporals and corporals begin at command-sponsored courses supported  by required online prerequisite material. Once the rank of sergeant is reached, the education of the Marine becomes more intense with resident and seminar-based courses also supported by online prerequisites.   

The education is necessary because it helps Marines develop the critical thinking and communication skills necessary for effectiveness in today’s and the future’s operating environment, according to Col. C.J. Williams, director of Enlisted Professional Military Education (EPME) at MCU.

The education of enlisted Marines has evolved over the years to keep up with current doctrine and operating environments.  For example, there may not be large units moving around together on the battlefield anymore.  Units have become smaller and have gone from being directly led by a lieutenant colonel to oftentimes being led by a sergeant, Williams said.

The EPME program educates Marines in the ranks of sergeant and above through six resident courses – the Sergeants Course, the Career Course, the Advanced Course, Senior Enlisted PME (SEPME), The First Sergeant’s Course and Cornerstone for sergeants major.  Prerequisites for these courses can be found on MarineNet.

The Sergeants Course provides sergeants with the knowledge and skills necessary to assume leadership roles of greater responsibility.  It builds on the education of the lance corporal and corporal command-level courses given to those ranks. 

One of the goals of the Sergeants Course is to teach the knowledge and skills necessary to act in the role of small unit leader.  Specifically, the course introduces sergeants to critical and creative thought, effective communications and the science of physical fitness, as well as practical physical training they can use back at their unit. They also gain the knowledge needed to improve their personal readiness and that of their Marines. In addition, war fighting skills are enhanced so the sergeant becomes more familiar with the operational planning and employment of their Marines, as well as some of the skills needed for warfare at the small unit level.

The Career Course is next in the continuum and is designed to provide staff sergeants with the knowledge needed to act in the unit leader role.  This course builds upon the Sergeants Course and enhances the maneuver warfare concepts learned previously by continuing to teach Marines to think and communicate. It also provides pragmatic instruction in counseling Marines, their expanding role in planning and execution of their unit’s mission, ethical decision making and a greater appreciation of Marine Corps history.

The Advanced Course, SEPME, First Sergeants Course and the Cornerstone, educate gunnery sergeants through sergeants major and master gunnery sergeants to greatly enhance their leadership abilities so they can be successful in billets with even greater responsibility that directly impact a unit’s command climate.  In addition, students are taught to advise senior and junior Marines in personal matters, stress management, evaluation systems and financial planning. In addition, they also expand their role assisting officers with the planning and vision for the success of their unit. They will also learn how to evaluate unit readiness and take corrective actions in this area.  Students continue to learn how to produce effective written communications appropriate for their rank and responsibilities. In short, they continue the process of thinking, learning and leading.

Academies are located at several Marine Corps bases including Quantico, Camp Lejeune, Twentynine Palms, Camp Pendleton, Hawaii and Okinawa.  For more information contact:

Sergeants Course:

Quantico:  703-432-5916

Camp Lejeune: 910-450-0128

Twentynine Palms: 760-830-6260

Camp Pendleton 760-763-0213

Career Course:

Quantico:  703-784-2971

Camp Lejeune:  910-450-1956/57

Camp Pendleton:  760-763-0213

Okinawa:  (81) 611-723-4047

Hawaii:  808- 257-1338

Advanced Course:

Quantico:  703-784-1836

Camp Pendleton:  760-725-4893

Okinawa:  (81) 611-723-4047

Camp Lejeune:  910-450-0009

Marine Corps Base Quantico