Innovation is anything but business as usual

  • Published
  • By Maj. Neil Harris
  • 62nd Comptroller Squadron commander
As we finally finished unpacking our boxes from last summer's permanent change of station, I came across a couple of old college textbooks. Although their content is somewhat outdated, one book in particular has undeniable sentimental value. The fifth edition cover of "Financial Markets and Institutions" depicts a sunrise panorama photo of the World Trade Center complex, taken in 2000.

As we remember and honor the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that image is symbolic of so many different emotions. It remains as a stark reminder of the catastrophic human toll and of our nation's unwavering resiliency and commitment in the years following.

Not only do the twin towers bring to mind the attacks of Sept. 11, but also serve to offer some perspective on how much has changed over the past 12 years. The U.S. military transformed so quickly in the post-9/11 era, that much of our technology would be nearly unrecognizable to commanders, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors only a few decades ago.

New types of weapons and equipment to fight a new type of war were in demand as the U.S. military and its allies deployed to the Middle East in late 2001, and the fighting hasn't stopped since.

We've completely changed the way we train, equip and respond to contingency operations around the world.

Make no mistake, our military will continue to evolve. It's safe to say that the U.S. Air Force of 2023 will look dramatically different than the Air Force of today. The near-term budget uncertainty will force us to do more with less, and in some cases, do less altogether.

The next evolution of change isn't just about saving money, it's an opportunity to do things smarter and more efficiently. Each and every one of you has a unique opportunity, starting right now, to make a lasting contribution and shape the Air Force of tomorrow. Encourage creativity, take smart risks and embrace new ways of thinking. Embody an adaptive and innovative mindset.

Despite all of the persistent change around us, the foundations of our service haven't changed. Our mission remains clear: fly, fight and win. Our people remain the foundation of our success no matter what the challenge.