/ Published September 16, 2021
Blue Horizons Fellowship: What is it?
Blue Horizons is an Air Force Chief of Staff-chartered fellowship hosted by the Center for Strategy and Technology at Maxwell AFB. Our mission is to identify and mature radical pathways to victory across the warfighting domains. As our name implies, we focus on the intersection of strategy and technology which has often been the source of tremendous opportunity throughout military history. The class is a mixed cohort of both Intermediate and Senior Developmental Education selects from both the Air and Space Forces, usually 12-15 students in total. Each year the CSAF will determine a broad topic that the BH Fellows to explore. The class will eventually form small teams to pursue a specific problem-set within the topic presented by the CSAF. At the conclusion of the AY (May), each team will out brief the CSAF and other senior AF leaders on their findings and recommendations. Some of these projects will influence strategy, technology or policy, while others may branch into multiple initiatives that meet an existing or future need. The goal of the program is not to just develop a singular solution but to build you into a highly valuable thinker and doer.
What do I learn and get to do?
If selected, you will invest 10 months exploring a topic posed directly by DAF senior leadership. You'll be given the time, resources, and top cover to tackle a compelling problem with the potential for direct impact on the Department’s operations. To accomplish this task, you'll learn a mix of metacognition, strategy, technology, geopolitics, design thinking, strategic communication, and program management in a hands-on learning experience. You'll visit and work with senior leaders in the Pentagon, Combatant Commands and their staffs. You’ll also work directly with national labs, think tanks, innovation centers, and private industry ranging from new startups to established defense contractors. Your project might be a prototype organizational construct, operational concept, or an application of technology. At the end of the academic year you'll outbrief the CSAF and CSO and your experience will influence how the Department does business now and in the future. While Blue Horizons projects normally result in tangible things, our most important deliverable is our graduates - battle-ready entrepreneurs and critical thinkers capable of leading change at a transformational level.
Is this the right program for me?
If these parameters excite you, then yes:
- Working with experts and stakeholders both in the military and private sector
- Extensive TDY travel
- Working in a small, high-performing team
- Learning in multiple modalities: a book seminar one day, visiting a company the next day, and in a hands-on workshop the following day
- You have already completed, or don’t mind completing JPME I or II (as applicable) as our program does not teach the JPME syllabus nor confer that credit
- Reading extensively (yes, extensively) and distilling insights from multiple sources and disciplines into to practical solutions for complex problem sets
Pitching ideas to the DAF’s senior most leaders and receiving their feedback
Navigating in ambiguity; you won't be doing anything that has 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 very little cross over
- You desire the stability and predictability of ACSC or AWC schedule and curriculum
- You desire to write academic papers
- You do not want to travel--historically the program involves extensive travel
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. SDE officers must complete Joint Forces Staff College at another time to receive JPME II credit. IDE officers receive JPME I credit by completing ACSC via the eSchool. Graduates of the Blue Horizons program will be awarded a Master of Science in Airpower Strategy and Technology Integration accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges as well as a Special Experience Identifier.
Assignments: Where will I go next?
All graduates not matched to a command-track or leadership billet by their communities during the year will be proactively assigned to high-impact positions that capitalize on their unique exposure and expertise. The assignments can be unique as the graduates themselves.
How do applications work?
Currently, all Air and Space Force officers (including our Total Force counterparts) who are TS/SCI eligible and selected for IDE or SDE may apply. Officers interesting in applying to the program should first indicate their interest via MyVector during the school bidding process and discuss with their senior rater.
[AY22-23 cycle only]--Officers identified as Blue Horizons candidates on the AFPC school selection message are not yet admitted; as with any Fellowship they will still be required to apply to the target school and may or may not be granted final admittance. Officers not listed as Blue Horizons candidates may also apply and will considered on a case by case basis.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis between the release of school matches (generally in August/September) and not later than 1 Oct of that year. Cohort members are selected based on the writing sample, record reviews, recommendations, possible phone interviews and other data sources. Candidates are then notified of their select or non-select status. Non-selects will continue to their original school assignment; selects who are not already inbound for an AU (Maxwell) school will be rerouted by AFPC.
To apply, please provide:
Short answers to the following questions (<=200 words each)
Describe a challenge or shortfall you have encountered, and the actions you took, or led, to remedy it.
Describe a time when you failed professionally and what you learned from that failure.
Describe the one hobby that you most enjoy when not working.
Names and contact information of three references who know you well.
Send these to email@example.com with the subject line "BH AY22-23 Application". Good luck!
Selections are normally made in November. These selections are for the class attending the following calendar year. For example, school selects attending IDE or SDE in AY22-23 would be notified in November 2021.