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Schriever innovators attend AFA Air Warfare Symposium

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett delivers remarks during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27, 2020. The three-day event provides Department of Defense personnel an opportunity to participate in forums, speeches, seminars and workshops with defense industry professionals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett delivers remarks during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 27, 2020. The three-day event provides Department of Defense personnel an opportunity to participate in forums, speeches, seminars and workshops with defense industry professionals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 50th Space Wing sent a group of innovators to the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida Feb. 24 – 28.

The AFA Air Warfare Symposium is a three-day event for the aerospace and defense industry geared toward the professional development of Air Force officers, enlisted members, civilians, retirees and veterans, according to afa.org. However, the Airmen from the 50th SW spent five days in Florida, having the opportunity to visit Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on top of going to the symposium to understand the 50th SW’s impact on a larger scale.

“It’s exciting seeing wing leadership taking innovation seriously and providing opportunities for Airmen to come up with good ideas and implement them,” said Maj. Samuel McCabe, 50th Space Communications Squadron director of operations, who attended the symposium. “I would challenge folks to have courage and bring their ideas up to wing leadership.”

McCabe won top innovator for the 50th SW at the latest Innovative Warfighters Advancing Readiness Panel and represented the wing at the symposium. McCabe’s innovation addresses a national intelligence problem to defend Department of Defense weapon systems and despite receiving pushback at first, his innovation is currently being used by the 16th Air Force and the Air Force Cryptologic Office.

“Figure out what right looks like and stick to your guns,” McCabe said. “You’re going to get pushback. People are going to say, ‘that’s not how we do things here,’ or ‘In my career I’ve never seen it done that way.’ But if you stick to ‘This problem exists’ and ‘I have a solution,’ you’d be shocked how far you can go. I can’t tell you how many people shot down my idea before it got approved.”

Tech. Sgt. Patrick Hughlett, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron weapons and tactics flight chief, also attended the symposium. Additionally, he works with the new 50th Combat Development Division which was established less than eight months ago.

“[The CDD] is looking for ideas from the folks who are doing the operations to solve problems,” he said. “We’re asking Airmen what they need to do their job better and letting them work with developers to come to that solution.”

While iWAR exists for Airmen assigned to Schriever to present innovative ideas that can affect operations and quality of life, the CDD is operator-focused and mission-oriented to enhance the space domain as a whole.

Any Airman assigned to Schriever who has an innovative idea that can affect operations can submit their ideas to the CDD and possibly receive funding and professional assistance to turn their idea into a reality.

Hughlett and McCabe weren’t the only Schriever Airmen at the symposium. Other attendees from the 50th SW included: outstanding Airmen, noncommissioned officer and the group chiefs at Schriever.

“Being able to hear the Chief of Staff [of the Air Force] and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force speak was incredible,” Hughlett said. “I hope to take the lessons I’ve learned and inspire my Airmen with them.”

Hughlett and McCabe said they learned the importance of strong leadership, differentiating what’s important versus what’s urgent, and taking care of Airmen.

“Don’t be okay with the status quo, be willing to modernize and change processes,” Hughlett said. “One of the main issues in the Air Force is we’re constantly updating our systems [but not] our processes. It takes us at the tactical level to do that. If somethings not right, take the time to fix it. It starts with you.”

To submit an idea to the CDD, contact Hughlett at 567-2634, or to submit an idea to iWAR, contact Shana Allen at 567-2780.

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