PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- --
Patrick Space Force Base is now home to the first Spark Cell in the U.S. Space Force, The Forge. The Forge allows Guardians and Airmen to submit and develop solutions for issues identified in their organizations.
“We are accelerators for getting Guardians and Airmen the tools they need,” said Thomas Maxwell, Space Launch Delta 45 innovation officer. “We’re looking for innovative ways to solve the problems that Guardians have and expedite the process to get them what they need.”
The Forge is empowering Guardians and Airmen to bring the tools of tomorrow to the warfighter today.
“We’re trying to be a catalyst for something that is already in motion across the force,” said 2nd Lt. Kerry Kearschner, Space Launch Delta 45 innovation officer.
The Patrick spark cell has received issues identified by Airmen and Guardians including slow network and outdated equipment.
“One submission we received from the 920th Rescue Wing was a reusable airdrop platform base used to load vehicles, cargo, and equipment into aircraft,” said Kearschner. “This could scale across the entire Air Force or even the Department of Defense. The implementation of this reusable platform could save up to $13 million over five years.”
Along with saving the DOD money, The Forge is coordinating with environmental management experts to protect the Florida scrub jay, an endangered bird that calls Cape Canaveral Space Force Station home.
“We’re working with environmental management professionals on radio frequency identification tags for the scrub jays so we can track the bird with an automated system and eliminate hours in the field,” said Kearschner.
In March the Forge began hosting meetings called Blitz Sessions, where Guardians and Airmen can share and solve potential issues.
“We reached out to all of the squadrons and got individuals from the enlisted, officer, and civilian side,” said Kearschner.
To promote open and candid feedback, participants in each Blitz Session wore civilian attire and were not addressed by their rank or position, in an effort to promote brainstorming.
“The importance of civilian clothing is to take away rank and power structure, biases, and to provide an equalizer,” Kearschner said. “This creates comfort, willingness to engage, and creates a space where the Guardians and Airmen are able to be more receptive to one another.”
Members of the Forge use the term, ‘grass roots’ to describe the culture they are trying to create for Guardians and Airmen.
Kearschner explained that ‘grass roots’ is the base level of an organization, which could be an Airman 1st Class on day one or a Colonel of 25 years.
“It encompasses everyone and allows them the opportunity and space to be heard across each organization regardless of their branch, rank, service component — civilian or military.”
The Forge plans to cultivate a culture of innovation by providing Guardians and Airmen with resources to solve problems from within and help create an extensive network of experts across both the Air and Space Force.