AMC commander: unleash Airman innovation

  • Published
  • By Gen. Maryanne Miller
  • Air Mobility Command

I have had the privilege of working for the men and women of Air Mobility Command for 7 months now. I quickly came to appreciate the incredible capacity of this exceptionally talented force – the force necessary to ensure we continue achieving mobility objectives in any environment.

Before I took command of AMC, I reflected on the heritage of the many incredible mobility leaders who came before me. I researched their focus areas, their visions, and their many accomplishments. The foundation of their legacy was built on readiness, mission emphasis, modernization and, most importantly, taking care of people. These priorities make up the core of what we do in AMC, and I’m honored to lead our mobility enterprise – enabling a ready, capable, lethal force – now and into the future.

Although our mission doesn’t change, the ways and means of executing it will. We can anticipate change in our varying areas of operation, enemy capabilities and the nature of warfare across domains. We must adapt to overcome these challenges – and quickly. We must innovate.

As a Mobility Airman for 30 years, I first flew Military Airlift Command (MAC) missions writing clearances on the aircraft windshield with a grease pencil. Now, I marvel at our electronic flight bags, advanced avionics systems, and the unstoppable team of Airmen who embrace new processes and technology with gusto. When I visit with our Airmen, I meet the most extraordinary young warfighters who embody innovation both at work and in their homes. Their ability to solve problems while taking calculated risks is truly inspirational. 

A few concrete innovation examples across the command include:

  • Tech. Sgt. Alex Aguayo from Joint Base Charleston completed a C-17 Wheel Paint Stand project aiming to save maintenance man-hours. His project is being shared with other major commands.
  • Tech. Sgt. Eric Holton from MacDill AFB designed a time-saving KC-135 Engine-specific Maintenance Stand that just completed initial fit testing before fielding.
  • Tech Sgt. Shawn Roberge from Fairchild AFB turned his idea of a KC-135 Nose Landing Gear Door Lock that reduces damage during towing operations into a reality and it is already on its way toward inclusion in technical orders.
  • Staff Sgt. Travis Alton from Little Rock AFB presented a Phoenix Spark Tank winning M-1 Cargo Parachute Release Timing Block Fail-Safe as a potential low-cost solution, preventing early release of cargo chutes during airdrop operations which could save millions of dollars in damage and is going into phase II testing.

Additionally, Airmen are 3-D printing, writing code and creating their own brilliant solutions to the problems they know best. They have tremendous capability and an unrivaled passion for turning their creativity into something tangible. Airmen want to make our Air Force better. They want to be unleashed. As leaders, it is our responsibility to develop the next generation to be ready and able to compete against our adversaries. Innovation is a critical driving force vital to ensuring we fly, fight and win now and far into the future. Embrace it!

We have the privilege of shaping our people, our assets and our mission. This is a tough job and the most rewarding. It is our duty, an honor and a necessity. Innovation should not be the buzzword of the moment … it powers our mission. Study the challenges you know better than anyone else, take prudent risks and let’s get after it.