JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
More than 100 Numbered Air Force and Wing commanders, Command Chiefs, and spouses gathered in person for the first time in more than a year for Pacific Air Forces’ Commander’s Conference, April 20 through 22.
The theme, “Accelerate Change in…,” brought together senior leaders to discuss the many opportunities and challenges throughout Pacific Air Forces’ area of responsibility and how to overcome them with innovative ideas.
“Six-months ago we were doing this virtually, but today it is of paramount importance to have face-to-face strategic discussions,” said Gen. Ken Wilsbach, PACAF commander. “This conference allowed our leaders to lean-forward and share ideas to confront the challenges we face in this complex AOR.”
The three-day event allowed the attendees to strengthen lines of communication in a rapidly changing environment while participating in-depth discussions about readiness, agile combat employment, resilience through COVID, and strategic alignment.
Spouses also had a full agenda with discussions about housing, family quality of life, enlisted aid, the Exceptional Family Member program and much more.
“Our spouses are mission critical to every squadron, group, wing and NAF throughout the Pacific,” said Cindy Wilsbach, PACAF’s First Lady. “The ability to face challenges, such as COVID-19, and overcome them with innovation, creativity and compassion not only shows adaptability, but also the flexibility of our force as a whole.”
During the conference, the commanders and chiefs had the opportunity to take part in a Spark Tank event where five finalists throughout the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility pitched their innovative ideas to the group.
“It’s super easy for ideas to die on the vine,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, PACAF command chief. “It’s easier to say ‘no’ most of the time, but good on everyone who submitted for continuing to push these ideas to get to this point today. We’re super proud of all your hard work in making our Air Force better.”
The innovative concepts of the five finalists will allow PACAF to remain ready, diverse, innovative and lethal for years to come by saving time and money across the force, as well as creating a positive impact for Airmen.
“These ideas could change the way we do business,” Wilsbach said. “Everyone really is a winner because we’re innovating and accelerating change in the Indo-Pacific.”
The top three winners of the Spark Tank event are as follows:
Third Place: 15th Wing based out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii with Virtual Reality headsets to accomplish various training tasks throughout the year in a controllable environment.
Second Place: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska with Ursus 1.5, deployment earned full funding for 673rd Air Base Wing’s idea to consolidate deployment logistics by created a one-stop shop for unit deployment managers to order deployers’ gear.
First Place: 51st Fighter Wing out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, won with improved power generators in hardened aircraft shelters which would reduce hazardous fumes, allowing Airmen to keep the doors shut during inclement weather while continuing to generate sorties.