JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Operating at the speed of relevance is key to Air Force future success and that’s not possible without partnering with industry.
That was the message delivered April 9 by presenters during the annual Air Force Installation and Mission Support Industry Day held in conjunction with AFIMSC’s Installation and Mission Support Weapons and Tactics Conference.
The event provided installation and mission support-related vendors the opportunity to learn about mission focus areas and display and demonstrate their products for more than 1,000 I&MS Airmen at all levels, including general officers, senior executive service members and mission support leaders in town for I-WEPTAC events.
“If we’re going to remain the best Air Force in the world, we must keep up with innovative ideas and that means capitalizing on what the civilian sector brings to the fight,” said Mary Urey, director of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Small Business Office
Government agencies are often tied by regulations on what they can and can’t do, Urey explained, but industry doesn’t have those same constraints.
“They bring new, innovative ideas that we haven’t heard about yet … they demonstrate what they have and it may fill a gap that we didn’t even realize we had,” she said. “Additionally, by building relationships with industry, we can tell them an area where we’re lacking and industry can go and work on it and fill that gap.”
Col. Patrick Miller, AFIMSC’s vice commander, kicked off the day and let industry representatives know why their attendance and partnership is important to the future success of the Air Force.
“Collaboration. That’s what today is all about for you and for us. To give you a peek behind the curtain to see what’s going on in our enterprise and how we can partner,” Miller said.
Being a civil engineer by trade has given the colonel the framework of public and private sectors coming together to tackle our nation’s toughest defense challenges, he said.
“Within AFIMSC, one of our priorities is innovation. We want to be the I&MS innovation center,” he said. “We can’t do that on our own. That’s dependent on our relationships coming together to tackle some of the wicked problems going on out there.”
As an example, Miller talked about Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, after the devastation of Hurricane Michael and the initial joint efforts of the military and industry to clear away debris and begin base-level operations.
“We couldn’t have done it without you,” Miller said, “and we need you to help us rebuild and reshape Tyndall into the installation of the future.”
There’s a lot of work to be done, he added, over $4 billion of project work.
“(Tyndall) is a proof of concept for us as an I&MS enterprise; an opportunity for us to show energy initiatives, force protection initiatives, technology … you bring all those things in to play at this base and our senior leaders see what that does for our enterprise,” the colonel said. “We want our senior leaders hooked on innovation and a power projection platform for the 21st Century. That’s what you being here today is all about.”
“We’re all in this together, because industry wants us to remain a superior Air Force as much as we do,” Urey added. “Building relationships with people who all have the same goal in mind is important.”
Casey Rodela, a representative for BeaverFit containerized performance equipment, was one of more than 50 vendors at the event. He’s also a tactical air controller party member with the National Guard.
“Getting new, updated equipment to the field is a slow process,” Rodela said. “I’m still working with gear that’s 10 years old so I know firsthand the importance of getting equipment out to the community quicker and these type of events help do that.”