I-WEPTAC delivers third straight year of innovation

  • Published
  • By AFIMSC Public Affairs

Mission Area Working Groups delivered innovative solutions to the Air Force’s top Agile Combat Support challenges at the 3rd Annual Installation and Mission Support Weapons and Tactics Conference outbrief here April 10. 

In a packed Pfingston BMT Reception Center, more than 1,000 Air Force senior leaders, mission support leaders from across the force and members of the JBSA community heard how the four MAWGs would tackle challenges based on this year’s topic of “The Installation as a Weapons System.”

Just as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said April 8 after receiving I-WEPTAC preview briefings, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson remarked, “That was a spectacular event,” in his closing remarks.

“I thought your thinking was incredible,” he said to the members of the MAWGs. “You built your teams with diversity of thought and came up with some very creative ideas about how we can realistically train in all the lanes, develop a winning mindset and identify the things we need to be doing today so that we can not only win today, but tomorrow. 

“The most important weapon systems we have are the folks in this room. I leave here greatly encouraged.”

Hosted by the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, the MAWGs provided more than 20 recommendations for improving installation command and control, leveraging technology and innovation, integrating training and technology, and managing logistics in contested environments.

Their ideas will now go forward across the Air Force enterprise for further analysis and vetting to determine the feasibility of implementation.

The first I-WEPTAC in 2017 broke new ground as the only innovation forum for the ACS community. AFIMSC Commander Maj. Gen. Brad Spacy, who pioneered the development of the conference based on the Combat Air Forces WEPTAC, said the event has matured and gained relevance across the force in its early existence.

“I-WEPTAC is the first time in my career I’ve seen a group like this sequestered to talk about installation and mission support,” Spacy said. “We’re making progress and I really appreciate the time senior leaders put into focusing on the problems and giving us good feedback so we can build our enterprise better to support combat operations.”

One of those senior leaders in attendance was Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, who said the presentations were “impressive to watch.” His command, which runs the CAF WEPTAC, is partnering with Air Force Materiel Command and AFIMSC to test a combat support wing concept developed at a previous I-WEPTAC. The capstone exercise for the concept takes place at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, in May.

“I like the way (AFIMSC has) taken the model we began with for the CAF WEPTACs and, as we’ve tried to expand that into multi-domain operations, they’ve taken it to the next step,” he said. “They’ve broadened it across the different Agile Combat Support sets and they’ve really focused on how ops and Agile Combat Support work together to deliver integrated combat capability.”

Holmes added the majority of his command of 100,000 is comprised of ACS forces, so he’s interested in how I-WEPTAC solutions can better integrate missions.

“We know how hard they work, we know how innovative they are, (and) we know how much they are looking to find solutions,” he said. “I like the way AFIMSC is focused on doing that. They could choose just to do their functional work, answer their homework and answer their mail, but I like the approach they’re taking to figure out how to develop integrated solutions our commanders can use.”

Spacy said the maturation of the innovation environment across the Air Force provides fertile ground for good ideas to come to fruition – not just at I-WEPTAC – in keeping with the senior leaders’ priority of smarter and faster.

“The Secretary, Chief and Vice Chief have been clear: They’re breaking down barriers, but you have to get the Airmen to believe it,” Spacy said. “What we’re seeing is Airmen understanding they have a role in this. The best ideas are going to come from them and this is a place where they can bring them and we’re going to get them to the market. That, to me, is the most exciting part of this: that understanding taking root. 

“If you have an idea, get it to us or get it to somebody because the Air Force is ready to take action. It’s an innovator’s dreamland. Get after it!”