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Blazier shares his story and vision as the new Air University Command Chief > Air Education and Training Command > Article Display



The new Air University command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Stefan Blazier, has been on campus for just over a month. He comes to Maxwell from the Pentagon, where he served as chief of enlisted force development. In this role, he was instrumental in the development of the Enlisted Force Development Plan, an aggressive roadmap for the development of Enlisted Airmen.


Blazier recently spoke with Air University Public Affairs to share his personal story with the Air Force and his vision for enlisted members not just in the UA, but throughout the force.


Air University Public Affairs: You served in the Air Force for 24 years, what was the best part of your time in the service?


Chief Staff Sgt. Stephane Blazier: The best part is being at UA, and here’s why. I like to operate through the lens of the most important job is the one you have now and support the person who is right in front of you. Sometimes we can get too stuck in the past (like staring at a trophy case). I learned to look for opportunities in times and seize the chance to do something meaningful with them.


AUPA: In what profession did you start your career? Has that changed at all during your career?


Blazier: I joined the Air Force on a complete leap of faith. At 18, fresh out of high school (thanks in large part to my wife’s mom), I went to the mall to buy a pair of Air Jordans in December 1997, and two weeks later I was in basic military training on open ground. – general contract. Somehow, I ended up landing a job as a geospatial analyst, even though I didn’t even know what it was at the time. I was blessed with many different roles in the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cybersecurity communities over the next two decades. Luckily for me in 2015, Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger Towberman, who was then serving as command chief in the Air Force before the birth of the Space Force, pushed me out of my comfort zone as a new leader in a job that I would never have never asked. It ended up being one of my best learning experiences as a leader. It gave me the chance to appreciate the Air Force from a broader perspective and how our missions and specialties fit together. Back then, if you had told me that I would have a chance to do the things that I have, I would have laughed. My teammates, supervisors and leaders are responsible for what happened in my career…and in my life. The things you read in my biography are the results of their investment.


AUPA: Where do you live and what do you like to do in your free time?


Blazier: I’m from West Central Florida. I really like anything artistic or creative, like designing, drawing, writing, and “trying out” golf. My family also enjoys having friends over and we are big movie buffs with a penchant for comedy, action and science fiction.


AUPA: What was the engine of your career, what pushed you to re-engage?


Blazier: The challenge of making things better for others. Not enlisting was an easy decision. I had frustrations, witnessed poor leadership, and felt job demands that tempted me to hang up on multiple occasions. It was around the age of 10 that a mentor named Master Sergeant Mark Ledesma, a retired sailor, made a simple statement that resonated with me: How are you feeling better? That’s why I chose to stay in the arena. I will head to the sidelines one day, but for now I still like to fight with others for a better tomorrow.


AUPA: The Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Air University is the Air Force’s home for professional military enlisted education. Why are we placing so much emphasis on enrolled SMEs, and where do you see it going from its current state, both in program delivery and content focus?


Blazier: The work accomplished by the incredible professionals of the Barnes Center team is remarkable. The value they bring to the force continues to be in high demand and sought after by some as “the answer”. To be frank, I believe that we have largely wrongly focused on enrolled SMEs. We can think of it as a “catch-all” and, in a way, trying to “fix the Air Force” in those finite, infrequent windows throughout a career path. The enlisted SME still has an impact, but its value proposition increases when integrated with the progression and development of an Airman at the unit level. In my opinion, this is where we are still lacking – on the aspect of connectivity – between our priorities, our locations, our specialties and our different levels. It is no longer a question of “can we”, but of “will we” bring about the changes that the modern world allows us to make. We are working towards an ecosystem of on-demand and on-demand education, open knowledge architecture access, peer-reviewed content created for Airmen by Airmen. We’ll know when we’ve done it right when we stop saying things like “re-blue” or “Big A”. That’s when Airmen, no matter where they serve, will know how they connect our Air Force missions and why what they do is so important to national defense and security.


AUPA: What excites you most about your new role as Air University Command Chief?


Blazier: The combined power of this institution has mixed with the ability to fuel the growing need for development within our force. With enlisted, officer, and civilian education under one umbrella, we can explore ways to best integrate development that elevates teamwork and breaks down barriers that keep us from reaching our maximum potential. We have the opportunity to do amazing things together, and I’m excited to do my part in any way I can.


AUPA: You helped create the Enlisted Force Development Action Plan during your tenure as Chief of Air Force Enlisted Force Development at the Pentagon. How does this plan contribute to the development of ready Airmen?


Blazier: Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass gave our team a clear vector: “We want less talk and more action!” This is why the document itself has evolved from a strategy to an action plan with aggressive stakeholders and milestones. The challenges we face as soldiers are very different from what they were 30 years ago. The world is more complex, less predictable and faster than ever. As our greatest asymmetric advantage, we knew we had to equip our enlisted force with relevant development models to allow them to better compete anytime, anywhere. The EFD action plan is more about progress than the pursuit of perfection, we must hold ourselves accountable to move forward towards the objectives that have been set. It will take all of us, from leaders on the front lines to those on the staffs, everyone plays a part in growing our enlisted force.


AUPA: In terms of what and how you have contributed to the Enlisted Force Development Action Plan and your new role as AU Command Commander, what do you see yourself bringing to the AU?


Blazier: I mainly plan to serve as an integrator, connector and synchronizer. There are many movements underway that come with a demand for meaningful change, both inside and outside of our command. Since energy and resources are not unlimited, it is important to work to create a common understanding as best we can. We need to act together when it makes sense without feeling like we have to wait for someone to tell us to do the right thing.


AUPA: Many airmen are familiar with the “Little Brown Book” and the “Little Blue Book”. Could you tell me how this changes and why it is necessary for this resource to be in the hands of all enlisted Airmen, regardless of rank?


Blazier: In a time of rapid change and transformation, having a solid sense of what is fundamental is crucial. These are the attributes and qualities that allow us to perform at a high level – the combination of our shared values ​​and general expectations as military professionals. When we transitioned from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, we briefly lost sight of our hearts. From several focus groups, Airmen from all walks of life let us know that these books have become less available and more difficult to access, both in print and online. When the structure and core values ​​are not known to any team, you have a problem. That’s why they’ve been completely redesigned and relaunched with updated content based on the needs of the modern warfighter and capture how our Airmen team up to generate air power. Now that they are released, multiple efforts are underway to get them into work centers and into the hands of our Airmen when, where, and how they are needed.


AUPA: What do you hope to gain from your time here as Air University command chief?


Blazier: This one is quite easy. The biggest thing I hope to gain is ground. For those who serve in our Air Force today and those who will take our place one day. The primary job of any leader is to move the organization forward. Since we all work in the HR industry across AU, I only have to look around to find all the motivation I need to keep going, even on the toughest days. Working for the future of our people is a blessing, and my goal is to make every day count for them.



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