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Professional development leads to promotion

Enlisted Force Development

While serving as a master sergeant, Stefan Halushka, second from right, attended the International NCO Leadership Development course, which is available through the Enlisted Developmental Education Board. Halushka's participation in Enlisted Force Development programs helped him earn a promotion to senior master sergeant via the Stripes for Exceptional Performers II program.

One good thing often leads to another.

SMSgt Stefan Halushka, 919th Special Operations Wing equal opportunity superintendent, proves this adage applies to enlisted force development in the Air Force Reserve.

Over the past several years, Halushka has pursued force-development opportunities made available through the Enlisted Developmental Education Board.

The EDEB convenes once each year to identify the qualified Airmen for placement in select, short academic courses. Board members evaluate applicants based on the whole-person concept, including depth and breadth of military experience and responsibilities.

Through the EDEB process, Halushka has attended the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy, the International Senior Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Development Course and the NATO NCO Intermediate Leadership Course.

“I’ve always tried to take advantages of additional education and unique opportunities,” he said. “These experiences greatly add to your military knowledge, leadership skills and ability make things happen, because you simply have so much more to draw from.”

He said the courses were effective at improving interoperability among the services and partner nations.

“Learning how other military entities function is critical to being able to work with them,” Halushka said. “One aspect is understanding that many things won’t be done according to how you are used to doing them.”

He said communication is one of the biggest challenges, but the EDEB courses give you the opportunity to fine tune communication skills.

“With sister services, it’s the unique jargon and different mission focus,” Halushka said. “With other countries, it’s more about actual communication. It’s not always about the language, it’s also about how you communicate—the words you choose, the manner in which you deliver the message, and the ability to be flexible.”

Not only will improving his communication, interoperability and leadership skills help Halushka grow as a professional senior noncommissioned officer, but enlisted force development opportunities also directly support several strategic priorities of the most senior military leaders. Dense Secretary James Mattis has prioritized the strengthening of alliances, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has prioritized developing exceptional leaders, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has prioritized strengthening of joint teams and leaders.

“Today’s wars are different and how we conduct them is different,” Halushka said. “Working with other services, various allies and partner nations is the new focus.”

Enlisted force development is one of the focus areas of Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly, the command chief master sergeant of Air Force Reserve Command.

“Developing our future Reserve Citizen Airmen needs to be our top priority,” she said. “We need to take the time and give our attention to those Reserve Citizen Airmen who will be the next Air Force Reserve leaders. We must develop and sustain a diverse pipeline of leaders who can drive and foster innovation, teamwork and generate fresh and broad perspectives. Therefore, it’s only fitting that we make a significant investment in those individuals who have shown the potential to lead us toward the future of the Air Force Reserve.”

Halushka’s relentless professional development has also helped him get promoted to senior master sergeant via the Stripes for Exceptional Performers II program. The STEP II program is a commander's program designed to promote the most deserving Airmen, especially those who are blocked from promotion due to a lack of position vacancies common in Reserve units.

"STEP II is about the whole-person concept, I think participation in the EDEB process definitely contributed to my STEP promotion by broadening my understanding of relationships with sister services and partner nations, as well as adding to my experiences and leadership skill," he said.