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380AEW Article

Innovating ADAB

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

For the U.S. Air Force, innovation is more than a buzzword. The creativity of Airmen continually drives the military forward, and even in a deployed environment, their innovation is key to efficient and effective mission execution.

Opened in September 2022, the Phantom WERX Innovation Lab enables Airmen to hone their ideas into tangible and achievable improvements for their unit, squadron, base or even the Air Force.

“Airmen are the solutions to all of our problems,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Powers, Phantom WERX superintendent. “Airmen at every level have the knowledge and skills we need to find solutions to meet our mission requirements. As an innovation cell, we enable Airmen to identify mission limiting factors and create dynamic solutions to problems.”

The small office of innovators and collaborators achieve success through teamwork and structured process improvement methods, an approach needed to evolve with future mission demands.

“Technology is constantly changing, so in order to be competitive, you have to change with it,” said Tech. Sgt. Edgar Miller, Phantom WERX augmentee from the 380th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. “It’s about adding value by change. The more innovative you are, the more agile you are.”

From 3D printed creations like an ammo-counting sprocket that saves 23 man-hours every week, to enterprise level solutions designed to help Airmen beat the deployment heat, the Phantom WERX Innovation Lab has managed the production of 29 Airmen-generated projects, with 16 finished and implemented.

Through Phantom WERX, Airmen also have access to AFWERX-level resources like the Refinery and Tesseract. With their team of experts and engineers, these programs are designed to accelerate innovation and can upgrade simple prototypes to a fully realized, viable products.

“I see innovation as a mindset where you are not content with the plateau you might be on as an Airman, a shop, or organization,” said Capt. Seth Wynn, Phantom WERX action officer. “Innovation is always looking for ways to improve that process, to make it faster, more efficient. Continually improving.”

Currently, only two Airmen are assigned to Phantom WERX, but their innovative spirit is infectious. The list of Team ADAB members who have volunteered as innovation augmentees continues to climb.

“Since I've been with Phantom WERX, I’ve learned so much, not just on the innovation side, but also professionally,” said Tech. Sgt. Mariana Hernandez-Chavez, Phantom WERX augmentee from the 380th ELRS. “Airmen are smart, and innovation gives them the power to work out easier and more productive ways to do their jobs.”

Whether executing cost-effective, creative solutions like repurposing an unused sunshade to protect Airmen working at the guard shack or leveraging commercial industry to develop new equipment, Phantom WERX’s ability to tap into the boundless resource of Airmen’s creativity will continue to benefit ADAB for years to come.

“This is your innovation cell, not ours,” Powers said. “This is not three people in a room with a white board trying to change the Air Force. We need you, as a program manager, a developer or an innovator.”

To start innovating with Phantom WERX, interested personnel should visit the lab from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, or send their ideas via email at: