Innovation is the answer

  • Published
  • By Ed Lueninghoener
  • 55th Civil Engineering Squadron
From the birth of our nation to modern day, innovation has been a key to American success. The colonists who came to Jamestown in 1607, embarked on a business venture hoping to reap profits. The pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower in 1620 sought religious freedom. 

Both groups were looking for a life they believed would be superior to what they left in Europe and both faced adversity, which they overcame by constantly assessing their plans and adapting to their environment. 

For Jamestown, recognized as the first English settlement in North America, innovation meant a change in the perception of suitable colonists, goals of the colony and means to prosperity. The original colonists were predominantly male and many were investors and adventurers looking for profits. However, they lacked the skills to build safe, suitable shelters and provide locally produced sources of food and export. Additional colonists brought those skills, which ultimately brought success to the colony. 

The Mayflower left England late September and was blown off course by storms. The ship arrived in the New World north of the intended location in November. It was not until the following March that the colonists moved onto land. Knowing they were north of the area allowed by their charter, and beset with dissention due to the voyage and crowded conditions, it was recognized that a document was needed to set forth the basic rules by which to live. The Mayflower Compact reaffirmed the authority of the King of England, but also affirmed the authority of the colony to make rules to govern itself, ensuring survival of the population. 

The ability for Americans to adapt and overcome was once again displayed during World War II, when a well-equipped German fighting force found that they couldn't compete with America's military. The American force adapted quickly throughout the war, overcoming the mighty German tanks Tiger I and II and ultimately defeated a well-trained Germany military. If a tactic failed, new tactics were developed. If equipment was inadequate, modifications were made to improve it. The P-51 Mustang was designed, built and put into production in less than four months, giving the Allies air superiority in Europe in 1944. By the end of WWII, the American military had superior equipment and a dominant fighting force. 

Today, we face challenges on all fronts, and overcoming adversity in innovative ways is just as valid as ever. 

We are involved in two conflicts with elusive enemies determined to defeat freedom as we know it. At home, America faces financial challenges maintaining the economy, providing government services, dealing with environmental change and educating our youth to be ready to accept future challenges. This may sound like gloom, but it's not. It is really the chance of opportunity. This is where every American, whether civilian or military, needs to look at daily challenges as chances to change for the better. 

To maintain a fighting force, discipline is required. Members must be trained to react quickly to any situation. Success of the mission and the well-being of servicemembers depend on that. At the same time, we must not be lulled into thinking that better ways don't exist. 

The Airmen in today's Air Force represent the best and brightest of America. We need to encourage these Airmen to continually think and question, so we never accept the status quo. 

There are many programs that encourage innovation such as Air Force Smart Operations 21 and the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program. I challenge everyone to continually seek more efficient operations that conserve funds and resources. 

I see great innovation from the 55th Civil Engineering Squadron in many ways. The unit embraces construction as an ongoing operation all over Offutt. To date, the 55th CES has installed solar-powered crosswalk signs on SAC Boulevard, completed a hydrant-replacement project, which will improve fire protection by increasing water-use efficiency, installed meters on all major facilities to better analyze how Offutt consumes energy and the unit is also investigating the use of solar-powered lights in the parking lot of the Air Force Weather Agency. 

Innovation and efficiency have always been important, but they're more important now than ever. I believe the people of Offutt are equipped to provide great innovation, as they're the most skilled workforce available. Remember, everyone should look for better ways to accomplish their daily tasks and conserve our precious natural resources, strengthening our Air Force when we need it the most.