JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas —
Across all of Air Education and Training Command, units have strived to make bounds in the U.S. Air Force's culture of innovation. As an incentive to inspire improvement within the command, AETC developed a Continuum of Learning Challenge.
The challenge consists of five different categories. This year, the 12th Flying Training Wing earned the award for the "Institutional Culture" category. This category is intended for units to show how members understand, support and apply CoL methods across their range of mission sets.
During the past year the 12th Operations Group, 12th Maintenance Group, 479th Flying Training Group and 306th Flying Training Group has taken various steps in improving its mission effectiveness.
"Wherever we see what we call 'gaps' or whatever we can improve on we'll do the first three steps of this process and then we'll do an event to work towards resolving those issues," said David Bernacki, 12th Training Squadron lead weapons systems civilian simulator instructor.
The 12th Operations Group has focused on increasing fighter pilot output, reducing additional duties, and training for continuous process improvement.
Through their innovations, they completed 300 additional simulator missions by increasing pilot output 25 percent, saved the USAF $60,000, and saved 17,664 man-hours across 21 units.
"We have four new Green Belts, including our commander," Bernacki said. "The bottom line is that in our wing here, we do a lot of process improvement events and we do training for a lot of CPI greenbelts. There's always something being improved."
The 12th Maintenance Group has used CPI to better utilize repair times and re-shape aircraft record processes together saving the USAF nearly $300K annually.
The 306th Flying Training Group integrated $40K in training aids that cut ground incidents by 300 percent.
Through the growing innovative culture in the 12th FTW, Airmen have become a key aspect in the improve mission sets.
"After our recent steps toward developing new innovative ideas, it has become quickly apparent that airmen have great ideas," said Lt. Col. Joseph Stallings, 12th FTW Chief of Innovation. "However, there are still some people that are reluctant to pursue submitting their ideas because of being shot down. In order to change this mentality and encourage a culture of innovation, it is necessary that Airmen remember that regulations and AFIs will almost always be behind the emerging technologies. Therefore, it is better to continue doing whatever is needed to stay focused on how to improve mission accomplishment instead of spending all the time researching through excessive regulations.
"I think that if you allow the worker, the source of the work, to provide ideas and innovations that the wing can capitalize on, small innovations, in the big picture, become much larger," Bernacki added.
Although the wing has already made so many, they are continuing to make strides by allowing new avenues for personnel to give their ideas.
"We are standing up an innovation hub to spark new ideas and encourage the men and women of the 12th FTW to think critically and improve their workplace," Stallings said. "Although still in the planning stages, this office will likely be a physical location with a study hall/coffee house type setup where people can gather and bounce ideas off others.
"The Air Force has invested a lot of time and resources into developing the high experience levels of 12th FTW airmen, and it is imperative that the wing capitalize on encouraging innovation using their experience before they leave the service," Stallings said.