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Home : News : News
NEWS | March 2, 2017

480th ISRW hosts Innovation Summit

By Technical Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady 480th ISRW

The 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing hosted the AF Distributed Common Ground System Innovation Summit Feb 8-9 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA.


The “Innovation at the Edge” Summit, provides Airmen of the 480th an entrepreneurial forum to propose solutions to mission challenges within the DCGS enterprise.  These are typically light-weight, software apps or data integration solutions the Airmen themselves develop to help the enterprise. 


The purpose of the Summit was to identify those capabilities and pair them with military or industry resources that can rapidly accelerate their development and implementation.  The “Airmen Innovators” share their concepts in a collaborative and discovery-focused forum with key leaders and problem solvers across the Air Force and industry.


“Future success depends on developing and integrating software and data faster than the enemy," said Col. Jason Brown, 480th ISRW commander. "The summit is about building an ecosystem to allow our Airmen to implement and achieve that vision.”

This summit is part of creating an entrepreneurial ethos amongst the Airmen by giving them control to make their jobs and missions more effective, he added.


“The brain power, the expertise and the humans that interface with this software are our young Airmen who are qualified, innovative and smart,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Drew Cukor, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Warfighters Support division chief. “They can see beyond the wire, they see the future and have great expectations that their military or joint force is going to deliver them the best weapon system that our nation can afford. They’re demanding, innovative and they have high expectations and because of that they want to be involved.”


The next iteration of the DCGS systems and software, the Open Architecture Distributed Common Ground System (OA-DCGS), begins to provide a platform to further enable agile and innovative solutions.


“One of the key tenets of open architecture is enabling Airmen to innovate on the edge. The whole purpose behind [Open Architecture] is the government own the standards and interfaces so we’re not beholden to proprietary software,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kristofer Gifford, chief of the Multi Domain Operations Division on the Air Staff (A2). “The other key tenets are being able to field capabilities rapidly and innovating on the edge so instead of taking 7 years to field an upgrade to the weapons system we can field something in 30 days or less.”


Leaders and experts across the AF DCGS enterprise attended from including the Airmen who developed the ideas. Other attendees included other DCGS Enterprise Stakeholders such as Headquarters Air Force A2C, Headquarters National Guard Base A2, Air Combat Command A2/3/5/8/9, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, 70th ISRW and 480th ISRW. The summit attendees identified teams to work on the ideas the Airmen proposed and identified 11 innovative concepts from seven units.


“It was a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and they wanted our ideas. Not every idea will be implemented but they still wanted to hear about them and find out if those ideas are already being worked on across the globe,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Travis Edwards, 480th ISRG cryptologic linguist and briefer. ”Through this summit we found out that two others were working on the same problems and begun collaborating with them.”


During this summit Airmen proposed, identified, and assessed ideas in order to resource for further development by identifying lessons learned, common drivers and imperatives for establishing edge-innovation solutions. They also facilitated identification of enablers and obstacles related to creating, customizing and leaning forward in adapting unit solutions to weapon system gaps


“What I saw was an amazing approach to warfighting by bringing all your key leadership and innovation leaders together at all levels, especially at the Airmen level, to offer suggestions on how to improve,” said Cukor. “The greatest thing that this innovation summit does is that it harnesses that energy and puts it to great use.”


“I really had a chance to sit down with the leadership and really discuss a lot of the issues being presented to them particularly throughout the DGCS enterprise and a lot of solid answers were given back,” said  Edwards. “They really do show that they care about their Airmen and are trying to implement ways to get our voices heard and also giving us a medium to do it with.”


The next innovation summit will focus on pairing innovative Airmen with the right technical experts in the DCGS Weapon System Program Office, Department of Defense laboratories, and industry.


“This is very important because you have Airmen out there who are investing their time and energy off-duty to do this,” said Gifford. “These are Airmen in places like Germany and Hawaii that could be touring castles, going to the beach or playing X-Box, but they decided they want to come in on their lunch hour, weekend or after their shift to work on this and make it better. We need forums like this to foster and create innovation.”