JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Mission area working groups presented solutions for the Air and Space Forces’ biggest installation and mission support challenges to senior leaders during out-briefs at the Installation and Mission Support Weapons and Tactics Conference April 6-7.
Hosted by the Air Force and Mission Support Center, I-WEPTAC provides an opportunity for Airmen and Guardians a forum to provide solutions to better enable Agile Combat Support operations.
“We give relatively junior service members the ability to go out and find innovative answers to some of the most hard-hitting problems in the I&MS community,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Emborski, AFIMSC’s Strategy and Plans Branch chief and an I-WEPTAC action officer. “The conference provides a stage for the MAWGs to present sound, actionable recommendations to general officers, who have the ability to turn them around and make changes, bypassing the ‘middle-man.’”
With the theme of “Adaptive Operations through Expeditionary Combat Support,” this year’s conference focused on challenges at the tactical level and included these topics: Transition the Agile Combat Support Deployment Model from the Air and Space Expeditionary Force to Air Force Force Generation; Mission Risks Associated with IT Support Transition to Cyber Operations; Leveraging Remote Sensing and sUAS for Installation and Mission Support; and Passive Defense for Adaptive Operations.
“This was no small task. The mission area working groups put in countless hours of hard work to perform the research and analysis necessary to make actionable recommendations on these topics,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. in streamed remarks at the start of the April 6 virtual and in-person program. “I-WEPTAC is accelerating change, and their diligent planning and careful considerations will, no doubt, make this event a success.”
I-WEPTAC recommendations have been innovating Air and Space Force resourcing, planning, strategy and policy, since the conference’s inaugural event in 2017.
“The Installation Health Assessment came from the first I-WEPTAC and now it has more than 1,500 users,” said AFIMSC Commander Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox. “Installations across the Air and Space Forces use it to help plan their projects, programming what they need, so the installation commander can get an overall assessment of their different installation and mission support related needs.”
At the 2017 I-WEPTAC, a team recommended an innovative combat support wing construct using multifunctional Airmen to give the Air Force the ability to rapidly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams to austere and contested areas. Under the construct, weapons loaders could drive a refueling truck, security forces defenders could refuel a jet, and avionics specialists could provide airfield security while also performing their primary duties. The concept was tested and validated as an innovative way to deliver lethal airpower, while being more agile and putting fewer Airmen in harm’s way.
“And these are just a few great examples of how I-WEPTAC is helping change how the Air and Space Forces operate on a day-to-day basis, both in garrison and expeditionary, from an installation and mission support realm,” Wilcox said.
Following the MAWG briefings, AFIMSC conducted the I-WEPTAC Review Board with Air and Space Force senior leaders to follow up on 2021 recommendations and to identify offices of primary responsibility that will analyze this year’s proposals for implementation.
“The teams have given us a blueprint on how to move forward with some pretty important issues in our Air and Space Forces,” said Lt. Gen. Warren Berry, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, who chairs the IRB. “The IRB allows us to assign OPRs (and others) to have structure and accountability in place, so we can make sure these recommendations actually come to see the light of day and get implemented across our Air and Space Forces to make a difference.”
This year’s conference debuted the Installation and Mission Support Summit, which facilitated a dialogue between subject matter experts and senior Air Force and Space Force leaders about current installation and mission support programs and issues.
“The I&MS Summit evolved from the GO/SES Summit of I-WEPTACs in years past,” said Col. Lance Clark, AFIMC Expeditionary Support and Innovation director. “This new format facilitates stakeholder collaboration to make progress on the I&MS challenges facing our enterprise.”
In its fifth iteration, AFIMSC leaders and event organizers said I-WEPTAC is a Department of Air Force-wide effort.
“The conference succeeds or fails based on the problem statements we give to our MAWGs,” Emborski said. “We need to hear from Airmen and Guardians in the field, and for them to identify the issues they're facing. Then we need Air and Space Force leaders to help us identify the right personnel to make up the MAWGs to go after those problems.”
It’s ‘team ball,’ because everyone contributes to the solutions I-WEPTAC goes after, Wilcox added.
“We need to hear from the Force,” he said. “We don’t have all the answers, but when we collectively bring a diverse group of innovative thinkers together, we get the answers to our installation and mission support challenges. That’s what I-WEPTAC does and it’s what the 2022 conference accomplished.”
More than 100 Airmen and Guardian military and civilians, Army and Marine Corps participants, and members from other federal agencies comprised the four mission area working groups, including operators and specialties outside the I&MS community.
While I-WEPTAC is characterized as the premier I&MS innovation forum, it’s not a stand-alone event, Wilcox said. It feeds into AFIMSC’s innovation battle rhythm with other events like the Innovation Rodeo and Innovation Summit, which aim to continue improving the way the Department of the Air Force delivers I&MS capabilities.
For more information about I-WEPTAC and to view this year’s out-briefs visit: https://www.afimsc.af.mil/News/I-WEPTAC-2022/.