SSgt. Derek Miles, a ground radar systems technician with the 39th Operations Support Squadron at Incirlik AB, Turkey, is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2016. As a senior airman, Miles guided a four-member emergency response team, rewiring the Turkish air force precision approach radar in under one hour to secure host nation F-16 alert capabilities. He repaired a vital radar control unit, saving $19,000 in procurement costs, and restoring air traffic control of 6,700 NATO missions for Operation Inherent Resolve. Additionally, he stepped outside his career field to install nine ground-to-air radios in less than 48 hours, establishing operations centers for five deployed squadrons flying more than 1,000 OIR missions. Miles displayed his adaptive leadership ability during a three-week stretch, leading his work center through 103 maintenance actions and an unprecedented 99.9 percent radar uptime rate. He earned the John L. Levitow Award for academic and leadership excellence at Airman Leadership School. Air Force Magazine is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days leading up to AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, which starts Sept. 19 in National Harbor, Md. Also featured were: SMSgt. Mark Farmer, SMSgt. Jeremiah Grisham, SMSgt. Rebecca McNelley, MSgt. Marcus Mader, TSgt. Michael Asuncion, TSgt. Sharry Barnshaw, TSgt. Cassandra Cruz, and SSgt. Raquel Caramanno.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.