LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
“You don’t sound like a master sergeant,” said the Air Force general officer to the puzzled Air Force master sergeant during a meeting at Los Angeles Air Force Base. “You sound like a lieutenant.”
The meeting was held to inform Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Commander, Space and Missile Systems Center, on the status of the base’s vehicle fleet—or so the master sergeant thought.
A pause fills the conference room - silence.
“Is that good or bad for you?” Thompson said.
“That’s good, sir,” the master sergeant said, connecting the statements together.
“Well thanks for briefing us on the vehicle fleet,” Thompson said. “You did such a nice job I think I’ll send you to OTS.”
The conference room erupts in cheer and a moment that took the master sergeant fifteen years of Air Force service to attain is realized.
“I was speechless. I was humbled. I had no words,” said U.S. Space Force 2nd Lt. Bryan Bleck, Enterprise Corps Operations Support and Infrastructure branch product owner, recalling the moment when Lt. Gen. Thompson revealed that Bleck would be trading in his master sergeant chevrons for a second lieutenant’s gold bar.
Though pinning on 2nd lieutenant comes with expanded levels of responsibility, Bleck knows that his experience transitioning to senior non-commissioned officer will also help him as he grows as a Space Force officer.
“I didn’t realize before I put on master sergeant how big of a change that was going to be,” Bleck said. “I think that makes going from master sergeant to a lieutenant a little bit easier because working as a master sergeant in a superintendent’s position, you work directly with officers and get exposure to what it is like.”
Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Arnold, Command Chief of SMC, praised Bleck’s prior-enlisted experience and knows success as a Space Force commissioned officer is right around the corner for the newly sworn-in second lieutenant.
“His experience as an enlisted member has only made him stronger, and more adaptable,” Arnold said. “By pinning on his lieutenant bar, that enlisted experience will continue to guide him as he leads the men and women in the Air and Space Forces.”
Bleck, who earned his commission through Officer Training School, was selected into the Space Force through a highly competitive and non-traditional commissioning process - the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.
According to Arnold, Bleck was personally selected by Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, through the program.
SLECP allows designated Air and Space Force senior leaders to directly select exceptionally performing, highly-talented enlisted Airmen for commissioning through OTS.
Bleck acknowledges how special it is to be selected for the SLECP but wants others to understand that it takes more than luck to be selected for commissioning programs.
“Luck is preparation, opportunity and timing,” Bleck said. “The opportunity was there and I was prepared.”
As for timing for his selection to OTS, Bleck says his fifteen years of Air Force experience have been worth it for preparing him for a larger role in the Space Force.
“When I came into the Air Force I did not have the study skills I do now,” Bleck said. “The Air Force gave me that discipline. I guess you could say I was a late bloomer and it took me a long time to get my study skills together but the deliberate development we get in the enlisted force prepares you for anything.”
Prior to earning his commission in April of this year, Bleck served at LAAFB. Now as a product owner Bleck is excited to have a more direct role in SMC’s mission.
“I have been here since 2014, supporting SMC,” Bleck said. “But now I am going to be executing, and more directly involved in, what SMC does.”
SMC is the center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. The center’s portfolio includes the Space Launch and Range Systems, Global Positioning System, Military Satellite Communications, Space-Based Environmental Monitoring Systems, Satellite Control Networks, Overhead Persistent Infrared Systems, and Space Domain Awareness capabilities.
For more information on commissioning opportunities, click here: https://www.airforce.com/education/ongoing-education