Senior NCOs lead wingman tactics process, foster culture of innovation

  • Published
  • By Marge McGlinn
  • 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
Senior NCOs from the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing are leading the charge in the wing's newly created Wingman Tactics Process, created to collect and review best wingman practices already in place throughout the wing, and then share those ideas with the rest of the wing.

The wingman tactics process is modeled off the existing weapons and tactics process that exists throughout the Air Force; however, instead of focusing on how best to employ an aircraft, battlefield tactic or counter enemy innovations the wingman tactics process focuses on how best to care for the human weapon system -- the Airmen of the wing.

"Many units within our wing, as well as the rest of the U.S. Air Force, are going above and beyond to help each other, really grasping what being a true wingman is all about," said Master Sgt. Jena Brooks, the 480th ISRW training superintendent and a Wingman Tactics Team lead member. "These great practices should be captured and submitted to leadership for dissemination to everyone. What works in one section or unit may work in many, if not all."

The idea for the Wingman Tactics Process germinated in June shortly after Col. Tim Haugh took command of the wing. Haugh had a vision for sharing innovation and wanted his NCOs to develop the process. He did not have to go any further than his own mission support section, where the assigned Senior NCOs volunteered to create and organize the Wing's vision.

The result: a bottom-up innovation process to enable those closest to the activity to identify the best practices that support our Airmen and their families, and submit them to their group leadership for sharing. Any member of the wing can submit an innovation for the wing to review; military and civilian.

A tactic is screened at the group level and submitted to wing team leads currently located in the wing's mission support section, which then convene the wingman tactics working group to review the best practice for sharing. This working group is made up of nine Senior NCOs all holding a different Air Force specialty codes ensuring a wide range of views are brought to the table.

Each time a tactic is submitted to the wing, this group convenes to review the process and determines the best audience for dissemination. The group may determine to share the practice with other groups within the wing: a host wing, a major command, the ISR enterprise or even the Air Force at-large.

"During the first Wingman Tactics Process review, we received a fantastic cross section of wingman tactics," Haugh said. "The tactics ranged from creating a unit culture of innovation; techniques to optimize the new Airman Comprehensive Assessment Form; resiliency team tactics; a 'what if tragedy occurs' exercise; developing a Heritage Hall for Airmen; motorcycle mentoring techniques and a promotion study process."

The working group chose its first submission to review, ensured they had all the necessary information in-hand to understand the complexities of the innovation, confirmed they understood each part of the submission and then prepared a recommendation to present to Haugh.

This resulted in the first disseminated submission, labeled Hawk Tank. Hawk Tank was created by the “Hawks” from the 392nd Intelligence Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and modeled after a reality competition show. Hawk Tank is a forum within the squadron where Airmen can submit an idea to a panel, and if the panel determines it is attainable, the Airman is paired up with resources and mentors to set it in motion.

"Balancing compliance, mission and innovation isn't easy," said Tech. Sgt. Valerie Rivera, 392nd IS, and the leading force behind Hawk Tank. "But in today's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance world, it is a must. The enemy is smarter than ever before, yet so are our Airmen. How can we do a better job of tapping into the talents our Airmen bring?"

Rivera's leadership in creating the internal mechanisms to cultivate and sustain a culture of innovation has led her to be hand-picked by Maj. Gen. John N.T. Shanahan, the 25th Air Force commander, to brief the Hawk Tank concept to Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III during an upcoming visit.

"Tech. Sgt. Rivera is leading the charge on innovation at the 692rd ISR Group," Haugh said. "Her efforts with creating a culture and supporting environment where Airmen think innovation have reaped many rewards."

According to Brooks, the rest of the initial submissions will be reviewed by the working group by the end of October.

It is hoped the wingman tactics process will encourage continual innovations within the wing to improve support to Airmen and their families.

"This process was created for everyone," Haugh said. "If our wing members have a tactic that enhances the way we care for our Airmen, or accomplish the mission, let's share it."