NEWS | Oct. 26, 2021

11th CONS Airman makes Air Force history with Naval Postgraduate School selection

By Staff Sgt. Kayla White Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs

A member of the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling 11th Contracting Squadron became one of the first two enlisted Airmen to ever be selected to attend Naval Postgraduate School.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kade Forrester, 11th CONS Infrastructure Flight section chief, will travel with his family to attend the 18-month Acquisitions and Contract Management program in Monterey, California.

“It is nerve-racking but exciting at the same time,” said Forrester. “It is a lot of pressure being the first. If you do well, you set the standard for everyone to follow. If you fail, you might ruin the opportunity for those who might want to follow you. It is a lot of pressure to represent the enlisted field.”

Forrester described the sacrifice it took to get him to this point, saying it required a lot of long days and nights.

“It was worth it for everyone, from the junior enlisted below me to my leadership above me, who helped make this possible,” he said. “It is absolutely great knowing they have that trust and confidence in me and that they would push and advocate for me to have this opportunity.”

11th CONS Commander Maj. Ruben Arredondo highlighted Forrester’s contributions in the year since he joined the unit.

“He was one of the first enlisted members to arrive and quickly joined us as we began the process of standing up our squadron,” said Arredondo. “His impact was immediate as he drove the standup of our construction flight, JBAB’s government purchase card program, and aided the Air Force’s largest end-of-year mission growth!  These efforts garnered him the 11th Wing’s first (senior noncommissioned officer) of the quarter award.  Since then, he’s continued to lead the way for his peers, continuing his professional development and assisting mission partners every step of the way.”

Forrester’s 11th Wing accomplishments include earning a nomination into the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program and the wing’s nominee for the 2021 Lance P. Sijan SNCO award. His greater Air Force accomplishments include being selected by the Air Force Contracting Chief Enlisted Manager to attend the University of North Carolina Executive Development Course and being recognized as an Outstanding Volunteer for the 2021 Air Force Contracting Symposium.
 
JBAB and 11th Wing Commander Col. Cat Logan said that it is bittersweet to see Forrester go.

“You can’t hold onto talent,” she said. “We are able to accomplish significant feats here every day because of Kade and people like him. It’s important that we foster that talent and let him move onto the next level. He has proven that the sky is the limit for all of us.”

The highly competitive slots at NPS have historically gone to commissioned officers. Forrester’s acceptance into the NPS program signify a trail blazed and a glass ceiling shattered.

“The Air Force thrives on innovation, and our enlisted members have always been at the heart of that,” said Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Carr, the contracting career field manager and chief of enlisted policy. “Master Sergeant Forrester has a consistently strong record of performance that clearly put him among the best candidates for this opportunity.  He has also sought out opportunities to challenge himself and has embraced growing as a leader and functional expert.”

Enlisted members attending NPS will be able to embrace the Air Force Contracting mindset of mission-focused business leadership and combine their academics and experiences with what they already know as senior noncommissioned officers.

 “The leadership of Air Force Contracting believes that combining our innovative spirit as enlisted members with high levels of education and development make for a truly remarkable Airman able to take on the toughest challenges facing our Air Force,” said Carr. “When they come back to the Air Force, they are going to be placed into positions where they can bring this amazing experience to bear on some of our most complex projects and problems.” 

Forrester will learn to apply advanced management and operations research techniques to defense problems. This includes policy formulation and execution, strategic planning, defense resource allocation, cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis, federal fiscal policy, computer-based information and decision support systems, and complex managerial situations requiring comprehensive integrated decision making.

“Most of our training is tiered toward this type of contracting,” said Forrester. “This is the more exciting side of contracting that enlisted members don’t usually get to touch.”

He will also gain a deeper understanding of and will be able to apply the principles and fundamentals of acquisition and contracting within the federal government. He will enhance his ability apply innovative and creative approaches not only to resolve difficult issues, but also to significantly influence the legal and regulatory structure within which acquisition decision making occurs.

Finally, the graduate will develop his ability to conceptualize, develop and execute strategic business alliances and relationships necessary to the successful acquisition of goods and services.Forrester urged his fellow Airmen to pursue and seize these kinds of opportunities.

“Regardless of why you joined, the Air Force provides a lot,” he said. “You never know where your career might take you. Take advantage of every opportunity and also set your people up for success. When we develop ourselves, we better the Air Force.”