86th Airlift Wing Dubbed Most Innovative

The 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, is the first ever winner of the inaugural Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Innovation Madness competition. US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc presented the award—a trophy and a $250,000 check—to Brig. Gen. Patrick Mordente, the wing’s commander. The contest is an incentive-driven strategy to elicit cost savings. According to the Air Force, nine wings submitted 477 innovations for the contest, saving USAF at least $28 million and 115,000 man hours a year. The tournament style competition had judges scouring two years of data, including reports, videos, and even the Facebook likes generated by the sharing of these ideas (estimates show social media posts were viewed almost 300,000 times). Among the innovations the 86th AW submitted were adjusting schedules to “avoid weekend and holiday work,” which saved more than $700,000 a year, repairing aircraft communications cords in-house, resulting in another $120,000 savings a year, and training medical personnel on-station, saving at least $140,000 in additional annual travel expenses. “The numbers are staggering,” Gorenc said. Col. Dale Anderson, chief of the innovation transformation office, said the return of investment on the $250,000 prize is “the kind of deal we’ll take every time.”