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    Innovative Airmen Propel Air Force’s Mission with Red Tape-Cutting Projects

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    An E/A-18G Growler launches from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) during flight operations in the Arabian Sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Air Force innovators at bases in Germany and New Mexico have successfully pitched groundbreaking projects at a premier pitch event, showcasing efforts to streamline bomb-loading and weapons system maintenance on warplanes, despite facing bureaucratic hurdles.

    In the relentless pursuit of military efficiency and effectiveness, airmen at Osan Air Base have pioneered two projects – Project Weapon and Project CLAWS – to simplify the crucial tasks of armament loading and maintenance on fighter jets and gunships.

    This initiative emerged from the Aether Sprint, an annual platform where Air Force personnel can present their innovative ideas to senior logistics leaders.

    Staff Sgt. Ryan Amador, leading Project Weapon, developed an adapter that consolidates nine pieces of equipment into one, enhancing the testing of weapon systems on F-16 Fighting Falcons.

    The inspiration and development of this project took place at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

    He expressed the importance of persistence for innovation, stating, “Our team was so persistent in making sure that this innovation was pushed through to the Air Force that that’s why we are where we are at now.”

    Project CLAWS began at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico with the goal of developing a streamlined method for loading bombs onto AC-130 Hercules gunships. Master Sgt.

    Kahlil Bashir, now a section chief with Osan’s 51st Munitions Squadron, was at the forefront of brainstorming and developing the Compact Loading Adapter Wench System (CLAWS), which was influenced by the Navy’s experience using hoists for munition loading.

    Both team leaders highlighted the bureaucratic challenges they faced, with Bashir noting, “There’s a lot of red tape we encounter in the military. Every single one of those hurdles has the potential to just cut the whole project.”

    Supporting these grassroot innovations is Tesseract, a unique entity within the Air Staff Logistics Directorate, aiming to transform Airmen Approved ideas into scalable and sustainable policies.

    Tesseract taps into Airmen idea networks, streamlines software solutions, and fosters a culture of process improvement via the Theory of Constraints management methodology.

    Their approach focuses on frontline subject matter expertise to identify bottlenecks and create solutions that enhance aircraft readiness.

    The emphasis on innovation is echoed by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., who urges Airmen to cut through bureaucracy to meet mission needs.

    “Organizational structure is necessary, but we need Airmen who can cut through slow, ineffective processes and accelerate positive change,” he wrote, endorsing the empowerment of Airmen to explore new methods and take risks.

    The drive to reduce acquisition red tape extends to broader Air Force procurement strategies, with a new charter overseen by senior leaders and the Air Force Secretary that applies rapid and agile operating principles from the Rapid Capabilities Office to traditional weapons systems procurement.

    Relevant articles:
    Airmen cut red tape to bring innovation to Air Force warplane operations, Stars and Stripes
    Portfolio, AF.mil
    Brown Challenges Airmen to Cut Through Bureaucracy, Develop Bold Ideas, Air & Space Forces Magazine
    Air Force wants to slash acquisition red tape with new charter, Federal News Network

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