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Maj. William Hinchey, 23rd Munitions Squadron commander, attempts to use the Gulf Coast Wolverine to load and unload cargo. The Wolverine is a remote control skid steer that can be operated up to 1,000 feet away. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Whitney Gillespie)
Maj. William Hinchey, 23rd Munitions Squadron commander, left, and Master Sgt. Kareem Samuels, 23rd Maintenance Group chief of innovation, watches a Gulf Coast Wolverine demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, May 18, 2023. Samuels put together the demonstration as part of the MXG innovation cell initiative to find solutions to problems Airmen face in the workplace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Whitney Gillespie)
Staff Sgt. Pedro Long, 23rd Munitions Squadron munitions inspector, handles a remote controller during a Golf Coast Wolverine demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, May 18, 2023. The demonstration displayed the unloading and loading cargo capabilities of the Wolverine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Whitney Gillespie)
An Airman assigned to the 71st Rescue Squadron, handles a remote controller during a Golf Coast Wolverine demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, May 18, 2023. The demonstration allowed Airmen to practice using the machine for everyday mission-related tasks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Whitney Gillespie)
Leaders of the 23rd Maintenance Group innovation cell are paving the way to open communication with Airmen and share ideas that will benefit different units across the installation.
This innovation cell is one of Moody Air Force Base’s personal driver of "Accelerate Change or Lose,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr’s strategic approach. It aims to find ideas that work and amplify them to make the Air Force better.
Moody AFB answered the call to action with the creation of the TIGERWERX Spark Cell in 2020.This cell focuses on the 23rd MXG, while partnering with several other agencies across the installation, and the most recent innovation demonstration took place May 18, 2023
“The Spark Cell provides Airmen an avenue to improve their career fields, their work centers and their quality of life,” said Master Sgt. Kareem Samuels, 23rd MXG chief of innovation. “Leadership also partners with the cell to focus on efforts to do the same.”
Airmen from several career fields across Moody expressed interest in finding a solution to load and unload cargo without heavy equipment. Samuels took that idea and found one of many solutions and put together the Austere Cargo Loading Equipment Demonstration, where Airmen practiced using a remotely controlled loading system.
“We focused on improving aircraft generation and Lead Wing Operations,” Samuels said. “Innovation that drives us to live and work better here at Moody and is critical to help us build combat-ready Airmen.”
To prepare for today's challenges, Staff Sgt. Keaton Watts, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130K instructor loadmaster said Airmen must shift their perspective and change their line of thought from, “We do this because it has always been done this way,” to, “Here is how we improve this process.”
“This brings a wide network of motivated people,” said Watts. “The innovation cell is a means of connecting Airmen with ideas to resources that will help those ideas grow and evolve.”
One of the overall goals of the Spark Cell is to highlight how one single idea can ignite a culture of forward thinking and encourage the exchange of ideas.
“Spark cells have a huge impact on big Air Force,” Samuels continued. “We have tools like our Vision website where Airmen and Spark Cells can share their ideas. We can partner with innovators across the Air Force and use that platform to support each other.”
A direct approach and allowing space for innovation means less hurdles and more freedom for ideas but not without barriers. Being part of a Spark Cell connects different entities of the Air Force by striving to reach the same goal.
“The biggest obstacle is the learning curve navigating contracting and finance,” Samuels explained. “We partnered with our Resource Advisor, the 23rd Contracting Squadron spark cell and finance to work through problem sets. Without their support we could not get a lot of our projects off the ground.”
There is a continuous need for innovative thinking in the Air Force, and this innovation cell wants Airmen to think big.
“Fear of failure is something that paralyzes a lot of Airmen,” Watts said. “We have to be willing to make calculated steps outside the boundaries we're familiar with even if our plans don't work. It's easy to become attached to our various publications and guidance and just do what the book says even when it doesn't make sense.”
Although failures happen, without them there would be no progress. The innovation cell is available to help Airmen lead the way and inspire more to follow.
“Airmen knowing they have a cell that works alongside them to improve a process or acquire and implement a new tool is a game changer,” Samuels said. “Moody Airmen are leading the way – testing and developing Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concepts, and our cell is here to help them improve the future fight.”
Change is a critical catalyst for innovation, creativity or incentive for improvement.
“We have to continue looking forward in order to maintain an edge against adversaries, and decade old procedures and even older equipment will not suffice,” said Watts. “It's up to us as Airmen to find ways to improve what we have, and make what we don't.”