From cook to commander: FSS leader ready to serve 403rd Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Col. Costau “Coz” Bastien assumed command of the 403rd Force Support Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., in a ceremony Saturday, July 10. 

As commander of the 403rd FSS, Costau will lead the unit in providing force development, manpower, and personnel programs as well as sustainment services to the Air Force Reserve 403rd Wing’s 1,900 Airmen and civilians.

“We impact Airmen from their first day until their last day in the Air Force,” said Bastien. “Our job is to make sure that as you transition throughout your career, our personnel delivery system is there to meet your needs whether it’s transitioning career-fields or organizations, handling your performance reports, making sure you have everything you need to promote and more.”

Bastien’s own first day took place back in 1994 after life happened and he went from being a cadet and college student in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program to enlisting, becoming an airman first class in the services career-field and ultimately became a NCO.

“It seemed like my dream of commissioning might not happen at the time, but some way or another, all of the goals I established for myself, the Air Force has helped me achieve them,” he said. “I look back now and I wouldn’t trade my enlisted experience for anything, and my goals for finishing my education, becoming an officer, travelling the world—it all worked out.”

After seven years enlisted, Bastien earned his commission. He said since he became an officer, he has been a part of just about every facet of the Air Force one could imagine from squadrons to wings to numbered Air Forces Major Commands and, most recently, the Pentagon.

Prior to accepting the position as FSS commander, Bastien served as the Air Force Reserve’s Chief of Force Transformation, dealing primarily with readiness and mobilization policy, where he said he learned a lot especially in the realm of deployments and making sure Airmen were aware of their benefits and entitlements.

Between his variety of experiences and seeking out and reaping the benefits of the military both enlisted and commissioned firsthand, Bastien understands the importance of the job personnelists do and the importance of the human factor.

Bastien’s expectations from his new unit is that his Airmen be efficient and people-centric, so aeromedical members can focus on training to save lives and maintainers can keep aircraft flying and so on.

“We should never forget force support is a people’s business,” he said. “The technology aspect is important, but being able to talk to someone on the phone or look them in the eye and really let them know that they are being heard and that we care about their needs or issues, that’s what I value the most.”

He considers himself a servant at heart, and in a career-field centered on taking care of other people’s careers, he’s excited to bring his brand of leadership and servanthood to the table.

Col. Reggie Trujillo, 403rd Mission Support Group commander, presided over the assumption of command and spoke of the hiring process he underwent that led to Bastien’s placement as commander.

“For the interviews, I asked Col. (Steven) Fortson from the maintenance group and Col. (Stuart) Rubio, who was the operations group commander at the time, to sit in on the interview panel, because this squadron has a tremendous impact on every squadron, and every Airman in this wing,” said Trujillo.

“Lt. Col. Bastien was the first of three we interviewed and he was great.  Lt Col Bastien impressed us, with his thoughtful answers and his passionate spirit.  It became clear to the three of us right out of the gate that Lt Col Bastien was proud to be a Force Support Officer… that he loved and cared for the customer service and support capability that the FSS provides to a wing.” 

Following the interview, Trujillo said the three agreed that Bastien was the right officer to command the FSS. 

“Lt. Col. Bastien was offered the position as commander, and he immediately said yes,” said Trujillo. “He was eager and excited to join this dynamic team and to have the special opportunity to serve and lead these proud Airmen.”

While the assumption ceremony took place during the July UTA weekend, Bastien officially began the position June 15. He said it had been great so far working with the full-timers and he looked forward to meeting and getting the ball rolling with the full squadron of approximately 60 Reserve Citizen Airmen.

“I’m excited to have the ‘extended family,’ our traditional reservists, here for the first time this weekend,” he said. “I believe we have the right team to affect positive change, and I’m looking forward to working with them to constantly improve our processes and programs ensuring readiness for the wing.”