Airmen pitch innovative ideas, earn funding from Wolf Tank

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Suzie Plotnikov
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Airmen pitched their innovative ideas to 8th Fighter Wing leadership during a Wolf Tank at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Feb. 17, 2021.

Wolf Tank is based on the TV show “Shark Tank,” and is part of the wing’s Operation BOLO program, which stands for “Be on the Lookout for Opportunity.”

Operation BOLO gives Airmen the opportunity to accelerate change and enhance the wing’s ability to accomplish the mission, year-round, with Wolf Tanks held periodically to put ideas into action. During the most recent Wolf Tank, Airmen briefed their ideas, including thermal recon drones, 3D printers, exoskeleton bionic vests, a fire pump panel simulator and a mesh networking tactical radio system.

“This is a hub of innovation,” said Tech. Sgt. Dallas Ford, 8th Force Support Squadron manpower analyst and Operation BOLO member. “People came together and came up with ideas to make our base a better place to work and live.”

While capacity was limited at previous Wolf Tanks, this iteration of the innovation panel was open to squadron commanders in order to foster more discussion and input on how Airmen’s ideas could come into fruition. Once each Airman presented his or her idea and answered questions from the panel, wing leadership deliberated behind closed doors on which innovations to fund.

“I think we received a lot more information with having more expertise in the room asking questions,” said Col. Christopher Hammond, 8th Fighter Wing commander.

Wing leadership decided to fully- or partially-fund three of the five ideas presented, including the fire pump panel simulator, the 3D printers and the exoskeleton bionic vest.

“This idea [fire pump panel simulator] came from the love of the job,” said Tech. Sgt. Cory Barrett, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department assistant chief of operations. “With technology and everything advancing in the fire department world, we want to leverage technology, and that’s what we’re doing.”

“Now we know that our members, from the comfort of the training room, will be able to accomplish their upgrade training without worrying what the weather is like outside and without worrying about damaging the pump or the engine,” said Senior Master Sgt. AJ Kehl, 8th CES Fire Department fire chief.

“It goes without saying that innovation is all about being proactive, leaning forward – and I think we use that word in a funny way,” Kehl said. “It’s really about Airmen having the mindset to constantly leave things better than they found it and constantly improving on what’s given to them.”

Innovation is a big priority, not only for the Wolf Pack, but also across the Air Force. In August, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., released his strategic approach entitled Accelerate Change or Lose, in which he described how the force must innovate in order to remain the most dominant and respected Air Force in the world.

“It’s important to innovate because if we just think to ourselves, then we’re not going to see the changes we want in our military,” said Capt. Suzanna Palmer, 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management flight commander and Operation BOLO member. “I hope it [Wolf Tank] inspires other units to consider ideas from their Airmen and not just the select few units that were presenting.”

In his closing comments, Hammond expressed he was impressed with what was presented.

“This process has evolved from what initially started in the Air Force and, specifically, in the Wolf Pack,” Hammond said. “Your presentations, to include the videos, have been a lot more thorough, there was a lot more information, thought and research. I’m really happy with what came out of this.”