Joint Force Quarterly 82 (3rd Quarter, July 2016)

News | July 1, 2016

JPME II Available at Satellite Sites

By Kenneth Pisel Joint Force Quarterly 82

Dr. Kenneth Pisel is the Satellite Program Manager in the Joint and Combined Warfighting School at the Joint Forces Staff College.

Joint Professional Military Education, Phase II (JPME II) is a career milestone for joint warfighters and was designed and implemented to assist with the development of military leaders. The Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Officer Management Program mandates JPME II for an officer to be designated a Level III Joint Qualified Officer and eligible for promotion to O-7.1 This requirement generates a high demand signal for JPME II, but that demand is tempered by constraints in both the law and the existing infrastructure. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016 modified the language in Title 10 U.S. Codes that define JPME II and authorized JPME II–granting institutions (for example, Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) and Service war colleges) greater flexibility in presenting their curricula.2 The result is that JPME II is now exportable to sites away from the traditional residential campuses. Preserving academic outcomes and associated resource requirements will determine how this flexibility allows the schools to best support the joint warfighter.

Marines and Sailors participate in military drill in hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as part of Marine Corps professional military education course, May 10, 2013 (U.S. Navy/Derek A. Harkins)

Marines and Sailors participate in military drill in hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Nimitz as part of Marine Corps professional military education course, May 10, 2013 (U.S. Navy/Derek A. Harkins)


To understand where JPME II may be heading, it is vital to understand its origin and the processes that led to the current state. The genesis of JPME II is the Goldwater-Nichols National Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 (GNA).3 GNA created a bifurcated system of JPME, with the first phase (JPME I) presented at the Service staff colleges and the second (JPME II) presented at the National Defense University (the former Armed Forces Staff College (AFSC), JFSC’s predecessor). As with any legislation, the details for GNA’s implementation were refined over time. The seminal event in this process was 1989’s Panel on Military Education of the 100th Congress. Chaired by Representative Ike Skelton, the panel defined JPME II:

Phase II curriculum at AFSC should build on Phase I and concentrate on the integrated deployment and employment of multi-service forces. The course should provide time for: (1) a detailed survey course in joint doctrine; (2) several extensive case studies or war games that focus on the specifics of joint warfare and that involve theaters of war set in both developed and underdeveloped regions; (3) increasing the understanding of the four service cultures; and (4) most important, developing joint attitudes and perspectives.4

While the language of the Committee on Armed Services states that joint attitudes and perspectives are “most important,” this idea cannot be overemphasized. The inculcation of joint attitudes and perspectives (now commonly referred to as “joint acculturation”) is the single element that makes JPME II unique, provides significant added value, and drives how it is presented. The Committee went on to define Skelton’s four pillars for a JPME II program: a joint curriculum, taught by a joint faculty, to a joint student body, in a program under the Chairman’s oversight. Additionally, the Committee determined that the acculturation process required 3 months to achieve.5

With the guidance from the Panel on Military Education in hand, DOD attempted to implement JPME II using a 9-week curriculum. Congress did not view 9 weeks as equivalent to 3 months; thus it specified in law that JPME II shall be not less than 12 weeks. As a result, the 2005 NDAA implemented 3 modifications to the JPME II model: (1) the JPME II course at JFSC was reduced to 10 weeks in length, enabling a 4th class to be conducted each year; (2) senior Service colleges were given authority to grant JPME II; and (3) JPME II could be taught only in an in-residence format. This final change reflected Congressional belief that direct student interaction was indispensable in achieving joint acculturation.6

Concurrently in 2005, then–Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace published a White Paper on joint officer development with a vision for all O-6s to have completed JPME II.7 This vision created a challenge. With the senior Service colleges now granting JPME II, the total output for all venues increased to just over 2,100 personnel per year. In today’s reduced force, there are more than 18,000 Active Component (AC) and Reserve Component (RC) O-6s and 48,000 O-5s.8 Thus it was obvious that demand and capacity were incompatible.

With a need to increase capacity and with the personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO) at record levels, the National Defense University/JFSC was tasked in 2006 to develop innovative alternative approaches for presenting JPME II. Having received proposals for programs of 40 to 52 weeks that would utilize hybrid or night-school formats, the combatant commanders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff favored a satellite program that replicated the JFSC’s 10-week course of instruction. The concept was presented to Congress, and the 2012 NDAA authorized a 5-year test of the satellite-campus model at two combatant command (CCMD) headquarters.9 Tampa, Florida, was chosen because it offered the headquarters for both U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). Of nearly equal importance was the availability of academic space within the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU). A classroom at JSOU gave the Joint and Combined Warfighting School (JCWS) Satellite Program a home that had sufficient separation between the students and the gravitational pull of their staff jobs. From 2013 to 2015, the JCWS Satellite Program completed 12 classes at JSOU and collected the data required to support the Congressional decision in the 2016 NDAA. With that authority, the satellite program pilot has now been expanded to other CCMD sites.

Academic Program

The decision to use the 10-week model offered distinct advantages. The students would not need to focus on their staff jobs and the JPME II program simultaneously, and the model required almost no adaptation to the curriculum. In addition, the satellite classes begin on the same day as the resident program and the lessons proceed at the same pace.

The course is not specifically tailored to the CCMD; it presents enduring doctrinal planning concepts that, like the Norfolk-administered course, provide students with foundational material to work across regions, domains, and functions. When compared to the resident JCWS program, the satellite curriculum has only two unique elements. First, because the students are not in a temporary duty status, the administrative time required for out-processing is eliminated. This efficiency enables the satellite seminar to graduate the afternoon before the Norfolk class. More significant is the requirement to adapt two lessons to the satellite site. JCWS employs a case study and staff-ride of the Yorktown Revolutionary War battlefield in southern Virginia to achieve learning objectives for teaching the basic concept of operational art and introducing the elements of operational design. Aside from it being an excellent scenario for the academic requirement, Yorktown is also close to the JFSC campus.

Colonel Lenny Richoux, 18th Wing vice commander, addresses group of students and instructors from Japan Self Defense Force Joint Staff College at Kadena Air Base as part of Japan’s year-long advanced professional military education program, February 3, 2010 (U.S. Air Force/Christopher Hummel)

Colonel Lenny Richoux, 18th Wing vice commander, addresses group of students and instructors from Japan Self Defense Force Joint Staff College at Kadena Air Base as part of Japan’s year-long advanced professional military education program, February 3, 2010 (U.S. Air Force/Christopher Hummel)

Similar scenarios were developed for each satellite site with the exception of the National Capital Region class, which will use Yorktown. For USCENTCOM/USSOCOM and U.S. Southern Command, the Second Seminole War of 1835–1842 is the case study, with staff rides to the Dade and Loxahatchee battlefields, respectively. U.S. Northern Command used Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in Colorado to analyze Brigadier General Stephen Kearney’s march down the Santa Fe Trail into New Mexico at the start of the Mexican War in 1846. General Sterling Price’s 1864 campaign into Missouri and the Union defense of Fort Davidson in the battle of Pilot Knob, Missouri, will support U.S. Transportation Command. U.S. Pacific Command will employ a staff ride to multiple sites as they look at the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, from the Japanese operational perspective. Finally, U.S. Strategic Command will utilize the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Nebraska, and execute a case study on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Because joint acculturation is arguably foundational to true integration of our Armed Forces across domains and functions, JPME II is a program in which the students build on the basic curriculum through regular facilitated and unfacilitated discussion and discourse among themselves. The seminar composition at the satellite sites thus reflects Congressional direction for joint acculturation. Like seminars in Norfolk, the goal for each satellite seminar is to have 16 uniformed students (both AC and RC), with a one-third air-land-sea Service mix. There will also be a slot for an international officer and a U.S. Government civilian. If the international officer and civilian are not available, those slots will be filled by uniformed students.

While the PERSTEMPO benefits for the students are significant at the satellite locations, the diversity of available networking opportunities and student-infused perspectives from other commands, regions, and staffs represents a downside. In residence at JFSC, each seminar is composed of a cross-section of students from different CCMDs, the Joint Staff, Service staffs, and other agencies. The diversity of classroom discussions and the resultant student Rolodexes are beneficial throughout their careers. Conversely, the satellite seminar students tend to be primarily from the local CCMD, limiting the diversity of knowledge and discussion. It does, however, provide more immediate networking across the directorates within that CCMD, a noticeable student-stated benefit of the satellite seminars that have already been executed in Tampa and Colorado Springs.

The Way Forward

Ultimately, the future of JPME II comes back to the law. There are three sections of Title 10 U.S. Code that drive JPME II. Congress modified § 2154 to relieve the restriction on resident-only JPME II.10 This change opened the door for a satellite program and for blended-learning options. However, Congress did not modify § 215511 or § 2156.12 The former mandates that neither the student nor the faculty distribution of the senior Service colleges’ JPME II programs may exceed 60 percent of home Service (that is, the Army War College may not be more than 60 percent Army), and the remaining Services must be proportionally represented. The latter mandates that the principal course of instruction at JFSC is a 10-week resident JPME II program.13

This change indicates two things. First, any of the JPME II institutions can field a satellite program (although currently it is only JFSC that is doing so). Second, these same institutions can develop a blended program for JPME II. Today, only the Army War College and JFSC (that is, Advanced Joint Professional Military Education (AJPME)) have blended programs. The challenge for the Army will be to draw enough other–Service students and faculty to meet the 60/40 mix requirement defined by law.

The value of the satellite and, potentially, the hybrid AJPME program, is to those who will be able to complete JPME II without increasing family separation in an already high-PERSTEMPO environment. Plans for 2016 and 2017 are defined by available funding. There will be one satellite seminar in each of the four classes each year.

Plans for 2018 and beyond are still undetermined. It is likely that there will be an operational pause to assess lessons learned and actual costs for all sites before the long-term schedule is determined.14


Staff officers interested in pursuing JPME II at a CCMD satellite site should contact their respective J-1 approximately 90 days before class is scheduled to start. The goal is to submit student nominations to the Services for approval not later than 60 days before each class begins. Staff officers in the National Capital Region will need to coordinate directly with their individual Services for information about that satellite class.

The satellite program is an innovative approach to making JPME II available to many joint warfighters who would otherwise not have the opportunity. The challenge is that JPME II is academically rigorous and directly competes with responsibilities at home. While the CCMD chief of staff can give the students top cover that the classroom is their primary place of duty, students and their families must understand the academic requirements of the course. The original vision in 2006 was to expand the opportunities for warfighters to complete JPME II and to improve quality of life by offering the course at CCMD HQ sites. As visions and resources changed over the last decade, only the quality of life element remains; currently, 8 percent of JCWS graduates per year attend the satellite program. Though a small percentage of satellite students believed they would have been better served by taking the resident course in Norfolk and completely immersing themselves in academics, the majority of students were happy they completed the satellite seminar without needing to leave their families for 10 weeks. JFQ


1 Department of Defense (DOD) Instruction 1300.19, Joint Officer Management (JOM) Program (Washington, DC: DOD, March 4, 2014).

2 Committee on Armed Services, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, H.R. Report No. 114-102 (to accompany H.R. 1735), 114th Cong., 1st sess., May 5, 2015.

3 Ibid.

4 Professional Military Education: Hearings before the Panel on Military Education of the Committee on Armed Services, 100th Cong., 1st and 2nd sess. (1990).

5 Ibid.

6 Committee on Armed Services, Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, H.R. No. 108-491 (to accompany H.R. 4200), 108th Cong., 2nd sess., May 14, 2004.

7 CJCS Vision for Joint Officer Development (Washington, DC: The Joint Chiefs, 2005).

8 Defense Manpower Data Center, available at <>.

9 Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005.

10 Joint Professional Military Education: Three-Phase Approach, USC 10, Pub. L. 108-375, § ١٠٧-٢١٥٤ (2011).

11 Joint Professional Military Education Phase II Program of Instruction, USC 10, Pub. L. 108-375, § ١٠٧-٢١٥٥ (٢٠١١).

12 Joint Forces Staff College: Duration of Principal Course of Instruction, USC 10, Pub. L. 108-375, § 107-2156 (2011).

13 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016.

14 More information about the satellite program is available at <>.