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Blue Horizons Application

Blue Horizons Fellowship: What is it?

Blue Horizons is a CSAF-chartered, future-oriented 10-month fellowship at Air University exploring military-technical and geostrategic competition and its implications for the Air Force, and what to do about it. Each cohort averages a select mix of 14 Majors and Lieutenant Colonels selected for IDE or SDE. Blue Horizons does not count as IDE or SDE, but is professional Developmental Education (DE). The Masters degree awarded is a Master of Science in Airpower Strategy and Technology Integration. 

What do I learn and get to do?

If selected, you will invest 10 months exploring a topic posed by the CSAF. You'll learn a mix of metacognition, strategy, technology, regional studies, design thinking, strategic communication, program management and much more in a hands-on learning experience. You'll visit and work with a mix of senior leaders in the Pentagon and Combatant Commands and their staffs, national labs, think tanks, innovation centers, and private industry ranging from new startups to established defense contractors. Your output might be a prototype organizational construct, operational concept, or application of technology. You'll have the time, resources, and top cover to tackle a compelling problem and make progress addressing it. You might impact the whole of government or you might take on a big risk, fail, or learn valuable lessons in a safe environment. Either way, you'll outbrief the CSAF and CSO and your learning will influence how the Air Force does business. Your upgraded mind will be our primary product that is returned to serve in your next assignment.

Is this the right program for me?

If these parameters excite you, then yes:

  • Working with diverse stakeholders and private industry.
  • Possible extensive TDY travel.
  • Working on a small team for most of the program.
  • No Distinguished Graduate (DG) program. (We're DE, not IDE/SDE).
  • Learning in multiple modalities. You may be in a book seminar one day, visiting a company the next day, and in a hands-on workshop the following day.
  • You don't mind completing AWC or ACSC in correspondence (if not done already). Our program doesn't incorporate JPME I or II.
  • If you've already done ACSC or AWC in correspondence and want a new experience.
  • Briefing/pitching senior leaders, to include the CSAF on your progress and results.
  • Navigating in ambiguity; you won't be doing something that's ever been done before.

If these parameters excite you, then no:

  • You desire to compete in a Distinguished Graduate (DG) program. We don't have one. 
  • You desire the in-residence ACSC or AWC experience. We're a separate program with little cross over. 
  • You desire the stability and predictability of ACSC or AWC schedule and curriculum.
  • You desire to write academic papers. You'll write some papers, but not many. 
  • You do not want to travel. COVID-19 might impact our ability to travel as much, but historically the program travels extensively. 

How do applications work?

Currently, all Air and Space Force officers selected for IDE or SDE are eligible to apply (Air National Guard an Air Force Reserve selects are also eligible). Blue Horizons candidates are invited to apply when selected for either of these schools as a primary or alternate. Candidates must also be eligible for TS/SCI as our office spaces are located in a SCIF. The faculty applies a rolling admission model and selects the class based on the quality of the answers provided, records reviews, recommendations, and possible phone interviews to achieve the desired mix of AFSC's. Once the right class cohort has coalesced, no further applicants are admitted. Candidates are then notified of selected or non-selection. We're a very lean program, and if you're not selected we may still ask you to contribute your unique experience or expertise in some way. 

To apply, please provide:

  1. Current SURF
  2. Short answers to the following questions (<=200 words each)
    1. Describe a challenge or shortfall you have encountered, and the actions you took, or led, to remedy it.
    2. Describe a time when you failed professionally and what  you learned from that failure.
    3. Describe the one hobby that you most enjoy when not working.
  3. Names and contact information of three references who know you well. 

Send these to awc.csat.workflow@us.af.mil with the subject line "BH AY22 Application". Good luck!

What are the PCS, degree, and PME details I need to know?

The program dates run concurrently with AWC and ACSC dates; no changes are required to the reporting or departure dates established by ACSC or AWC. Officers receive SDE or IDE credit for participation. If needed, SDE officers 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. IDE officers receive JPME I credit by completing ACSC by Distance Learning. The Blue Horizons program is accredited to confer its own Master of Science degree in Airpower Strategy and Technology Integration. 

Assignments: Where will I go next?

A portion of the Blue Horizons class will likely match to a command or leadership billet during the year and will return to their operational communities. For the remaining officers, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force (VCSAF) directed that Blue Horizons graduates be proactively assigned based on the Advanced Studies Group (ASG) process. Throughout the academic year, the director of Blue Horizons will work together with the Commandant of SAASS (who manages the ASG assignment process) to assign Blue Horizons graduates to high-impact positions that capitalize on their unique exposure and expertise. Follow on billets might include strategic staff positions such as A5/8 or J5/8, but assignments can be unique as the graduates. One AY20 graduate is working at Microsoft Garage for a year. You'll work with the director to find the right next assignment for you.