AFA Langley Chapter held their annual Airpower Symposium and Salute Dinner on Langley AFB on April 11, 2018. The keynote speaker for the symposium was the Commander, Air Combat Command (COMACC), Gen Mike Holmes. The theme of the symposium was "Future Faster…COMACC’s Top Ten Focus Areas”. The symposium consisted of two sessions, an unclassified panel series at the Bayview Commonwealth Center in the morning then followed by classified briefs at Quesada Hall during the afternoon.
After COMACC’s keynote address, the first panel session consisted of industry technical experts, Mr. James Dorrell (Lockheed Martin), Mr. Ross Niebergall (Harris), Mr. Dave Bujold, (Boeing), Mr. Paul Egbert (BAE) and Mr. Eric Reinke (Northrup Grumman). The panel discussed challenges and opportunities industry is facing in order to achieve COMACC’s vision of bringing capabilities to the warfighter faster. The second panel of the series consisted of members from ACC’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) community, ACC Deputy A2 Mr. Shane Hamilton, ACC A5/2; Mr. John Vona ACC A 5/2D and Mr. Don Hudson ACC 480 ISR Technology Director. This panel focused on discussions on leveraging emerging technology to provide realistic training and combat capabilities to the airmen of the ISR community. Open architecture approach to the DCGS enterprise along with DevOps, a software engineering practice of unifying development (Dev) and software operations (Ops) were the key focus areas of the discussion. The DCGS weapon system is experiencing success in fielding capabilities to the warfighter in a timelier manner through this approach. Open architecture also allows airmen to create their own applications and rapidly transition the capability to the weapon system for increased combat capability. The ISR panel’s discussion was a perfect example of how the Air Force is trying to get to the "Future Faster” utilizing innovation and a different approach to development and fielding of capabilities.
Our second guest speaker, Lt Gen (r) Chris Miller, President of the Air Force Historical Foundation, presented a summary of historical Air Force events that occurred on April 11th to include an overview of two Air Force Medal of Honor winners. The first in 1944, Lt Edward Michael a B-17 pilot, who while wounded, recovered his damaged aircraft saving the lives of his crew that were unable or unwilling to bailout. The second Medal of Honor action occurred on April 11, 1966, A1C William Pitsenbarger a pararescue jumper in Vietnam hoisted nine soldiers to safety then remained behind to treat wounded soldiers until he was killed. The AFA Pitsenbarger award provides a one-time grant of $400 to selected top USAF enlisted personnel graduating from the Community College of the Air Force who plan to pursue a baccalaureate degree.
After lunch, cleared attendees migrated to Quesada Hall for a classified session. Col Alan Dayton, ACC/A5C presented the first classified briefing on the AOC pathfinder. Col Dayton covered the termination of AOC 10.2 and how the AOC Weapon System plans to move forward with modernization and fielding of capability through the new Path Finder Concept. AOC Pathfinder identifies prioritized capability gaps for the weapon system then through Agile Development process utilizing an ACC, AFLCMC, Defense Digital Service (DDS) and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) partnership they are able to get valuable software released faster, with higher quality, greater security and reduced risk. The AOC Pathfinder is making incredible strides in development and fielding of capabilities and is well ahead of the planned timeline for implementation. Another example of how the Air Force is moving to the "Future Faster”.
Capt Michael Kanann, AF/A2, presented the second classified brief. Capt Kanann is leading the ISR community’s efforts in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). His presentation focused on project MAVEN, a fascinating look at the opportunities to leverage ML/AI in the ISR mission area. His presentation provided an opportunity for follow-on classified discussions leveraging the open architecture, DevOps approach relative to the ACC’s ISR panel discussion earlier that morning.
Brig Gen Scott Pleus and ACC A5/8/9 team members presented the final brief of the day. This brief addressed COMACC’s Top Ten Focus Areas in the classified setting. Each ACC Core Function discussed their top classified capability gaps and priorities for the future. A key piece of the discussion focused around the difficulty in communicating gaps and needs between ACC (the Air Force in general) and industry due to the limited access industry has to SIPR along with the security constraints to use SIPR terminals for anything other than its designated contract. General Pleus took the action to find ways to better communicate classified information with industry in order to focus IR&D and enable the AF to get to the Future Faster.
The classified session was wrapped up just in time for preparation of the annual Salute to Team Langley dinner. After a short break guest reconvened at the Bayview Commonwealth Center. Dinner ceremonies commenced with the presentation of the flag by the Color Guard. The audience fell silent as our first guest speaker and Purple Heart medal recipient, SMSgt Richard Chwalik shared his personal story of how he sustained injuries as a result of an explosion during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 and the challenges he has faced and continues to face as a wounded airmen. AFA Langley Chapter President "Buster” Douglas presented a check in the amount of $2000 to Team Langley to use for morale welfare activities. Mr. Douglas also presented the attending Color Guard team a monetary donation to assist with their annual travel expenses. Keynote speaker, Honorable F. Whitten Peters concluded the evening with a presentation of the history, rapid development and fielding of the Predator platform to the Warfighter during Operations in Bosnia in the mid-1990s.
The following morning approximately 80 symposium attendees and supporters arrived at Langley’s Eaglewood Golf Course to compete in the annual Salute to Team Langley Captain’s Choice golf tournament. To kick things off, Touring Golf Pro and local VA Beach resident, Carl Paulson offered a free golf clinic to get participants warmed up before the shotgun start. As the golfers lined up in their cart in anticipation of the start, Teran Judd, Director of Community Partnership and Encroachment Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, focused everyone’s attention to the new Eaglewood Golf Course sign. AFA Langley Chapter along with other local businesses became founding sponsors of this novel idea designed to increase the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) funds at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The weather was perfect for an early spring day and the official opening of the course.
AFA Langley Chapter would like to thank Team Langley and ACC staff for continued support of the Air Power Symposium as well as our generous sponsors, attendees, Chapter members and volunteers. This year’s event was exceptionally successful in goals and fundraising efforts. The Chapter is grateful and delighted to announce this year’s event raised $49k. This annual symposium is the primary fundraiser for the Langley Chapter. It provides means to support the men and women of the US Air Force at Langley, its surrounding military community and our mission to connect with service members before, during, and beyond their time in uniform.