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Global Strike Commander: Strive to be ‘always better’ through innovation

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, delivers the keynote address during the second annual  Global Strike Challenge Technology and Innovation Symposium Nov. 9. The Symposium was held in conjunction with the Global Strike Challenge competition score posting and is an opportunity to develop relationships and exchange ideas with industry and academia partners who support the Air Force’s newest Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Corey A. Clements)

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, delivers the keynote address during the second annual Global Strike Challenge Technology and Innovation Symposium Nov. 9. The Symposium was held in conjunction with the Global Strike Challenge competition score posting and is an opportunity to develop relationships and exchange ideas with industry and academia partners who support the Air Force’s newest Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Corey A. Clements)

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, receives a question from the French Strategic Air Forces commander, Lt. Gen. Paul Fouilland, during the second annual Global Strike Challenge Technology and Innovation Symposium Nov. 9. The command’s French counterparts have attended both symposiums the command has hosted since its inception, building partnerships and exchanging ideas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Corey A. Clements)

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, receives a question from the French Strategic Air Forces commander, Lt. Gen. Paul Fouilland, during the second annual Global Strike Challenge Technology and Innovation Symposium Nov. 9. The command’s French counterparts have attended both symposiums the command has hosted since its inception, building partnerships and exchanging ideas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Corey A. Clements)

SHREVEPORT, La. -- The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command closed the 2011 Global Strike Challenge Technology and Innovation Symposium by challenging attendees to think 'always better.'

About 600 Airmen, community leaders and industry partners gathered for Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski's keynote address at the Shreveport Convention Center Nov. 9, where the general discussed the need for Airmen to innovate, and the importance of leaders listening to their ideas.

"When we began the work to stand up Global Strike Command, we wanted to restore pride in our heritage, including our deep heritage of innovation," Kowalski said. "We must now leverage that heritage to allow us to be 'always better.'"

Kowalski said the innovative spirit is a defining characteristic of the Air Force.

"It is in the DNA of all Airmen--our service was born from technology," he said. "It is in our tactics, training and procedures. It is in our doctrine. It is how we organize our forces. But it also has to become how we think about our work every day."

"That is the enduring challenge for Global Strike Command," Kowalski said.

"We must challenge our organizations, both military and civilian, to have an appetite for innovation--and a culture that rewards the implementation of innovative solutions across doctrine, organization, training, equipment and personnel," he said.

Kowalski cited a list of challenges in "an increasingly complex, multi-polar world" that require Airmen to innovate, including non-state actors, historic ethnic and national conflict points, the proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies, climate change, natural disasters and the competition for resources.

Innovation is already happening in Global Strike Command, where the Airmen continue to impress Kowalski with "their hunger for change and their drive to be 'always better,'" he said.

The general discussed innovative ideas from Airmen, including building motorcycle practice pads on bases, combining IG inspections, and giving mobile security forces teams a wireless link into missile field security cameras.

Kowalski also mentioned several innovative ideas which started at Global Strike Command Headquarters, including the restructuring of the continuous bomber presence in Guam, which will save $21 million a year.

Sustainment and modernization will also require innovative thinking, Kowalski said. He discussed the command's bomber fleet pushing past the half-century mark--the B-52 Stratofortress, scheduled to be in service "until they are past 80 years old" and the B-2 Spirit, which will be flying past 2050. The Minuteman III missiles will also be 60 years old when the new replacement system comes online sometime after 2030, Kowalski said.

"I don't know how the Global Strike Challenge of the future will score the new bomber or the new ICBM, but I expect they will bring the same level of discipline, professionalism and innovation that we have seen here," Kowalski said.

The general thanked everyone in attendance for participating in the second-annual Global Strike Challenge, highlighting the benefit of bringing the "best of the best" competitors together with industry partners. Kowalski also thanked Lt. Gen. Paul Fouilland, Commander of the French Strategic Air Forces, and his team for attending the events for the second year in a row.

More than 480 competitors from across Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Combat Command and the Air Force Reserve Command traveled to the Shreveport-Bossier City area to attend the second-annual Global Strike Challenge Capstone symposium and score posting events Nov. 8-9.

Global Strike Challenge develops elite, highly-disciplined Airmen, builds esprit de corps, and recognizes the "best of the best" Airmen in missile and bomber operations, maintenance and security forces.