An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Changing how we do business

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Alexander Koven
  • 7th Expeditionary Air Command and Control Squadron Commander
Change has always been a part of the Air Force. You see it every day here with the way Airmen support the fight. The B-1B Lancer, designed to penetrate into enemy territory, is now using a targeting pod and global positioning satellite-aided weapons to conduct close air support. In previous conflicts, Air Control Squadrons needed to be within line-of-sight of the aircraft they controlled. Now they control the fight from thousands of miles away. 

For my own platform, engineers designed the Joint Surveillance Target Attack System to detect Warsaw Pact-era tank columns crossing the Fulda Gap in Germany. In today's battlefield, JSTARS is producing actionable information for the counter-insurgency fight while supporting real-time operations through an upgraded communications suite. Our concept of war fighting has transformed.

Change also impacts an Airman's quality of life. As a lieutenant who deployed frequently to this part of the world, the rules limited me to two 15-minute phone calls a week back home. Squadrons had more typewriters than computers and I broke out the air tasking order with a pencil and a photocopier. At my home squadron, 60 people shared a single laser printer. E-mail was a new concept and few people had access to the Web. Most amazingly, the Air Force was able to launch sorties without the use of PowerPoint. Overhead projectors, wax pencils, and acetates worked fine. Our concept of using technology has transformed.

Today's Airmen enter an Air Force that is network-centric. Information travels instantly with the press of a button. Air Force Instructions and forms are available online. Airmen huddle around Wi-Fi hot spots to keep in contact with loved ones, work on their education, or network with others on a global scale. It used to take the power of a mighty nation to reach around the globe. Now an individual is capable of doing the same. Our concept of using information has transformed.

Change will continue for the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing as our mission. From our position here in Southwest Asia, our wing helps bring stability to this region. Our mission will ensure that critical natural resources are available for the world economy, while building lasting relationships with our friends and allies. Airpower, with its unique attributes, provides critical capabilities required for operations in this region. These capabilities span from logistics, to intelligence, to surveillance and re-connaissance, to kinetic and non-kinetic effects. You, the Airmen of the Grand Slam Wing, provide the Joint Forces Air Component Commander options and capabilities for the future. Over time, this wing's mission has transformed.

One of the first changes is the way the 379 AEW is manned. Like mine, many of the commander positions have become 365-day tours. Other key positions will shortly follow. This continuity will ensure better integration of squadrons and their capabilities. Another change that many who came to "Camp Andy" have witnessed is the great improvement in facilities that has occurred and continues. As these improvements move forward, the Grand Slam Wing will continue its transformation to meet today's and future's challenges.