Air Force leaders are leaving no stone unturned in their search for the best industry practices and innovations to consider in rebuilding Tyndall AFB, Florida, which was devastated by Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
To that end, members of the Tyndall Program Management Office, along with Air Force experts, industry and community leaders participated in an AFWERX-sponsored workshop June 25-26, 2019, in Las Vegas to rebuild the installation as a "base of the future."
"The purpose of involving AFWERX was to assist us in moving much more quickly and agilely when it comes to the rebuild," said Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, Tyndall PMO executive director in charge of the rebuild effort. "The point was to connect innovators to get after infusing innovations. At AFWERX, we came together to brainstorm the art of the possible for the rebuild."
Hurricane Michael damaged nearly 480 facilities and the Air Force estimates the cost to rebuild at about $4.25 billion, with approximately $400 million spent so far.
"Let's face it, we are basically building an entire base," Melancon added. "The entire military construction budget is about $2.8 billion, which traditionally is the military construction program for the entire Air Force. We are going to do this all at one base in basically two fiscal years in terms of (contract) awards."
Col. Jefferson Hawkins, Tyndall Air Force Base 325th Fighter Wing vice commander, leads a discussion during a recent workshop at the AFWERX facility in Las Vegas, June 25-26, 2019.
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Veronica Kemeny)
The workshop also featured TED talks, problem-solving and collaborative group sessions led by AFWERX facilitators. Attendees discussed bringing best practices from industry and streamlining acquisition processes.
Col. Jefferson Hawkins, vice commander of the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall AFB, was an attendee at the workshop and appreciated the ideas shared.
"What a great step forward for Tyndall's rebuild," Hawkins said. "AFWERX created both open thought and open dialogue. The ideas and conversations generated and relationships built will be pivotal to our future success."
The time spent at AFWERX facilitated outside-the-box thinking.
"The work and innovation we are exploring to rebuild Tyndall can be used as an example of how we build the 21st century air base in the Air Force," Melancon said.
"Technologies such as frictionless entry or a fast-pass lane at a gate where you swipe your ID card or possibly use your fingerprint to go through a secured gate is technology in the commercial space that we need to leverage for our benefit."
Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, Tyndall Air Force Base Program Management Office executive director and Renee Richardson, director of Acquisition Operations for the Air Force Installation Contracting Center, work together during an innovation exercise during a recent visit to the AFWERX facility in Las Vegas.
(U.S. Air Force by Veronica Kemeny)
Tom Neubaurer, Bay Defense Alliance president, whose organization works with Tyndall leadership and Program Management Office to ensure the preservation of the mission at the base, also attended the AFWERX workshop and expressed his optimism about the rebuild.
"Clearly, we have an amazing opportunity to partner with our military neighbors and build a great American defense community around the base of the future," Neubauer said. "By working together now, we will reflect proudly on all that is accomplished in the years ahead for a better Bay County and for national defense."
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy John Henderson reaffirmed the Air Force's commitment to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base during a second industry day held this past May to inform industry about the work that lies ahead. A third industry day is tentatively scheduled for August that will provide further updates on the innovative ideas submitted through white papers and what has developed during the AFWERX visit.
The focus and commitment of the 325th FW and PMO is to assess facility damage, determine usability and preserve capability.
This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.