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By Airman Ryan Prince, Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
/ Published January 19, 2021
U.S. Space Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Steele, 3rd Space Operations Squadron mission planner, right, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Seth Taylor, 1st SOPS cyber transport systems technician, left, both of Space Delta 9 units, were selected for the Senior Enlisted Leader Commissioning Program. Enlisted members accepted into SLECP –Active Duty Scholarship pursue a degree full-time while on active-duty status. Once schooling is complete, participants attend Officer Training School to earn their commissions. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Airman Ryan Prince)
Two Space Delta 9 enlisted members will begin their journey to become officers following their selection for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.
While U.S. Space Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Steele, 3rd Space Operations Squadron mission planner, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Seth Taylor, 1st SOPS cyber transport systems technician, are in SLECP they will pursue full-time degrees on active-duty status. Following completion, both will attend Officer Training School to earn their commissions.
Military members selected for SLECP are allowed to attend universities of their choice, online or in-person, to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in a major of their choice.
Steele will attend Middle Tennessee State University to complete his degree in Mechatronics Engineering, and Taylor plans to attend the University of Arizona to obtain a Geographical Information Systems degree.
“I had many reasons to apply [to SLECP]. My philosophy is: if you don’t try, the answer is always no,” Steele said.
Steele attributes his selection for SLECP to persistence and people he connected with.
“While building my package I ran into a lot of roadblocks, but I kept pushing back and seeking help from my mentors and friends,” Steele said.
U.S. Space Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Zwirn, 3rd SOPS flight chief, said the first time he met Steele, he immediately stood out as unique.
“He constantly looks for ways to bring people together, which has been refreshing during the pandemic,” Zwirn said. “He is very passionate about his job and is always looking for ways to improve not only his job, but the lives of the people he works with, too.”
Zwirn said he could not think of a better choice for the SLECP than Steele.
“Steele is a natural leader,” he said, “I look forward to saluting him one day.”
Taylor said education is very important to him and SLECP will allow him to finish his degree.
“I knew that I wanted to serve as an officer,” Taylor said. “I see my goal as a big step in both personal and professional development, and this program offers the solution to being able to reach [these] goals.”
His leadership was a large part of him getting selected for the program, he said, because they allowed him to take lead on large projects that were atypical for a Senior Airman, which was Taylor’s rank until recently.
U.S. Space Force Tech Sgt. Shawn Tierney, 1st SOPS flight chief, explained how Taylor naturally leads others toward mission success.
“[Taylor’s] work ethic shows his astute attention to detail, determination and drive to ensure that every task is completed to the best of his ability,” Tierney said.” Not once has he faltered with a task that should be near impossible and instead he has completed it with ease and professionalism.”
The “can-do” attitude Taylor carries rubs off on his teammates and pushes the mission in a direction not thought possible, Tierney said.
SLECP is a very unique opportunity with a competitive selection process.
“What I would say for those that are looking for an edge [in the SLECP selection], is to look for opportunities to build your [AF Form] 1206,” Steele said. “Find mentors who are good at writing bullets, and have them work with you on learning what makes good bullets and how to write them well yourself. Pour your heart into your essay and make sure when the board reads your essay, tell them what it means to you to be picked for the program.”
This year, candidates were required to write a one-page essay on their desire to serve, fill out a career-encompassing AF Form 1206, pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, receive recommendation letters from leadership and provide military and school records to apply.
“Enlisted members interested in SLECP should inform their leadership to discuss their interest in commissioning,” Taylor said. “After this they will need to speak with their commander’s support section where they can get a point of contact with useful information on the program.”
The application may change year to year, so these requirements may change for 2021.
“SLECP is an amazing opportunity and I encourage any enlisted members who wish to commission to consider submitting an application for this program,” Taylor said.