New commander takes enlisted education reins

  • Published
  • By Brian Ferguson
  • Barnes Center for Enlisted Education

Col. Damian Schlussel took command of the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education during a change of command ceremony at the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Maxwell Air Force Base – Gunter Annex, June 28, 2023.

Lt. Gen. Andrea D. Tullos, Air University commander and president, presided over the ceremony, transferring the organizational flag from Col. Anthony D. Babcock to Schlussel, signifying the change in leadership.

“My dad’s initial advice when I followed him into the military was to find the flight senior NCO to help guide me,” Schlussel said during his remarks. “I recognize that those senior NCOs who ‘mentored up and across’ passed through the doors of enlisted profession military education centers many times throughout their career before being linked with me. This is my opportunity to help give back to the institution that shaped their styles of leadership and mentorship.”

Schlussel entered the Air Force in 1998 after graduating with military distinction from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. Previously, he was the deputy director of Logistics, Civil Engineering, Force Protection and Nuclear Integration at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He has served at the squadron, group, major command, Headquarters Air Staff and the Joint Staff level, with four command tours.

It is not easy to train, educate and develop air-minded leaders and to develop an enlisted force with the competencies the nation needs to defeat strategic competitors, all while maximizing the effectiveness of the learning environment, Schlussel stated.

“For the cadre and members that are part of the Barnes Center family and its larger enterprise, you carry a heavy load in preparing leaders to win the next fight,” he said.

Babcock, who led the Barnes Center since June 2021, departs for his new assignment at the Pentagon where he will serve as the career field manager for Air Force maintenance officers.

“Having grown up personally and professionally in the care of many NCOs, including my dad, I am incredibly honored to have been part of enhancing your profession,” Babcock said, addressing the NCOs in the audience. “Thanks for disagreeing, encouraging, pushing, participating, discussing, thinking, caring, asking and for leading. You are making everything we do better.”

During his command, Babcock directed and finalized a comprehensive modernization of enlisted professional military education and curriculum. He also led the Community College of the Air Force through an eight-month operational pause to replace the school’s student information system, enabling process automation and digital transactions with college registrars around the globe.

The Barnes Center includes the CCAF, nine professional development academies and the Enlisted Heritage Research Institute. The academies and CCAF graduate more than 60,000 Airmen, joint personnel and international students annually.