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Blue Horizons Program SDE Application

Congratulations on your selection to attend Air War College for Academic Year (AY) 2019! As you prepare to move to Air University, we would like you to consider applying for a different type of educational opportunity for the year ahead--the Blue Horizons program.

The Blue Horizons program is a multi-rank IDE/SDE program, chartered by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to "explore future geo-strategic and military-technical competition to build advantage for the United States." Blue Horizons Fellows participate in this program full-time, as an alternative to attending AWC or ACSC. This year, we plan to select 16 participants: 5 Lt Cols from the incoming AWC class and 11 Majors from the incoming ACSC class.

The program occupies a unique space in Air Force education, sitting at the crossroads of innovation, strategy, operations, technology, industry trends, and classified intelligence. The ten-month program includes robust reading and writing requirements, class discussions, wargames, group trips to national labs and industry sites, classified intelligence briefings, as well as numerous interactions with leaders in government, academia, and business.

These activities spur the development of research that can inform the thinking of senior leaders in the Air Force and Department of Defense. In years past, the research of Blue Horizons Fellows took the form of traditional academic papers. Beginning with AY 2018, however, the program has been tasked to become a rapid prototyping organization, one that can push its research past the “good idea” phase to create and test prototypes of new operational concepts, organizational constructs, or applications of technology in ten months or less. Attached is a document that provides a more thorough description of this effort as well as the current portfolio of projects.

The Blue Horizons program prides itself on being “deliberately unorthodox”. We believe that the only way to succeed as an Air Force is to approach problems as challengers rather than as reigning champions. That is, we identify as Airmen who don’t expect to win simply by repeating what they have done before. Fellows share ownership of this learning process with faculty in a dynamic educational environment. Creativity and initiative are vital.

We invite you to apply to become a member of our next class. Instructions for how to apply can be found below. All Air Force personnel with an active TS/SCI clearance who have been named as selects or alternates for Air War College are eligible. Last year, roughly one-third of our applicants were selected to participate. Note: being considered for the Blue Horizons program does not increase the chance that alternates will be picked up for resident PME.

The Blue Horizons program was recently accredited to confer its own Master’s degree. However, like other Air Force fellowships, the Blue Horizons program does not give JPME Phase II credit. If necessary, SDE graduates will receive JPME II credit by participating in the Joint Forces Staff College, when sent by AFPC or DPO in preparation for a joint assignment.

Although not an ASG program, the follow-on assignments of Blue Horizons Fellows are handled through similar channels to ensure that graduates have maximum opportunity to create and integrate innovative ideas and problem-solving techniques within the broader Air Force and Department of Defense.

You can read more about the program here.  We also invite you to contact our current fellows about their experience; this year's class is listed here. 

Please feel free to send us questions at awc.csat.workflow@us.af.mil or contact Dr. Blake McMahon, Director of the Blue Horizons Program, at russell.mcmahon.1@us.af.mil or Col Adam “Mez” Stone, Director of the Air Force Center for Strategy & Technology, at adam.stone@us.af.mil.

We hope to hear from you soon.


The Blue Horizons Team


To apply for the Blue Horizons program, please email our Workflow (awc.csat.workflow@us.af.mil) with the following materials by COB, Friday 2 Mar 2018:

1. A statement acknowledging that "I am a volunteer to participate in the Blue Horizons program for Academic Year 2019. I understand that my participation in the program will be in lieu of attending AWC, and that I will need to attend JFSC if I am not already JPME Phase II complete."

2. Submit a short response (max 250 words) to each of the following three prompts:

A. What is the greatest operational or strategic challenge facing the Air Force over the next two decades? How would you address this challenge using strategy and/or technology?
B. Describe a situation in which you used a creative approach to solve a problem.
C. How do you view success, failure, and risk in pursuit of your goals?

At their discretion, the Blue Horizons faculty may also conduct a phone interview to assist in the process of selecting next year's class. We expect to announce selections in late-March.

Blue Horizons

USAF Center for Strategy and Technology
325 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112