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Airmen: The heart of innovation

  • Published
  • By Maj. Patrick Steen
  • 387th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron commander
SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Innovation is at the very heart of every known successful military and our Air Force is no exception.

Throughout history, innovative designs, thoughts and deeds consistently have proven their worth. Covert battles between nations have been fought to possess the latest industrial, scientific or military secrets. Securing these technological advances is a considerable challenge Airmen should take very seriously. Operational, informational and industrial security are just a few examples of security programs in place to guard against outside agency penetration attempts. Considerable resources are spent ensuring Air Force members are properly vetted to view and operate our latest innovations.

What can innovative thoughts accomplish? In the right hands, they can and have been world changing events.

History is populated with innovations some simple, some very technical. Here are just a few:

True innovative genius can be seen in the time of ancient Rome in as simple a concept as a road. The Romans thought grand in scale and built vast roadways linking the massive empire. These durable roadways ensured the Roman legionnaires could march greater distances then enemies in a much shorter period of time. Not only could the Romans outmaneuver their opponents, they could send and receive information more efficiently. This relatively fast means of communication was a distinct advantage both militarily and commercially.

Genghis Khan had a fresh view on mobility and went about it from a different angle. The Mongolians by their nature were masters of the horse and migratory by nature. He instilled this high mobility culture into every facet of his army. Genghis would supply his forces with several horses per warrior, ensuring a fresh horse was always available for travel and combat. With his highly mobile army, he was able to conquer a greater area of the world than any other leader in history.

Another complex innovation involving several moving parts enabled the German army to conquer most of Europe within just a few short campaigns using the blitzkrieg.

The blitzkrieg was originally an English idea. Institutionalized by the German military's senior leadership, the blitzkrieg, a highly offensive and mobile maneuver, was only possible when combined with the use of their tanks and aircraft. This highly mobile force would engage the enemy forces across multiple points along the front while constantly checking for weak points. When a weakness was found, the Germans would dedicate their reserves units to breach the defense line and drive into the rear areas wreaking havoc upon the enemy's rear unprotected areas. These invariably forced them to withdrawal and re-establish their lines or surrender.

This innovative tactic combined with armored tanks such as the Panzer and the powerful German Luftwaffe air force proved too much for Poland, Britain, France and other countries in Europe early on in the war. Eventually, Germany's blitzkrieg tactic and ultimately their war machine were defeated on both Eastern and Western fronts by adaptive allied forces several years later, but not before devastating results were achieved.

Every Airman witnesses innovation in the workplace every day in a multitude of shapes and forms. It all starts when we achieve "excellence in all you do." Airmen should walk into the workplace with innovation on their mind. Not only should we aim to accomplish the job, but also we should always be looking for ways to improve.

As our forefathers successfully proved before us; we, the new generation, owe it to them to test our current methods constantly with new and innovative thoughts in order to push our parameters to their very limits. Only by infusing innovation into our daily processes and continually improving upon them will we, the U.S. Air Force, continue to be the greatest air force the world has ever known.