Military News

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Young impression leads Airman to career, RPA innovations

by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


6/16/2015 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada -- During one's life there's often a moment when something is said or done that will stick with them for the remainder of their life.

These actions are the things that mold us as individuals and grow our beliefs and morals. It can be unimaginable just how much simple words have the ability to change or shape one's life. For Tech. Sgt. Kevin, 15th Reconnaissance Squadron intelligence operations supervisor and intelligence flight NCO in charge, it started as an impressionable young man trying to make it through basic military training.

"I remember my instructor saying 'if you're not 15 minutes early, you're late,'" Kevin said, chuckling as he reminisced.

Little did he know that advice would strongly mold his work ethic and stick with him 12 years later as he continues to improve the intelligence career field and mission within his squadron and Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

Stemmed from the guidance he received in basic training, his discipline of time-management has resulted in improved processes and tools created for mission efficiency at every duty station he's been assigned to.

His latest creation is a program called the Squadron Intelligence Reconnaissance Interface, codename SIRI. It's an application being used by remotely piloted aircraft crew members to execute the mission more efficiently while being more situationally aware.

"The program will alert crew members of threats in the area, as well as, decrease the amount of time it takes to complete tasks so they may focus on the mission," Kevin said. "That time saved can help them pass information quicker and mean the difference between life and death situations."

SIRI helps aircrews by acting as a sort of Google. They can search answers to conversions, locations, abbreviations, brevity words, rules of engagements, munitions specifications, call signs, and many more. This is particularly helpful when working with coalition partners to quickly convert measurements or identify call signs with aircraft.

"Rather than having to take my eyes off the screens to use multiple resources to find an answer, SIRI can relay that information instantly," said Capt. David, 15th Reconnaissance Squadron pilot. "That allows me to focus on the mission and maximize my time."

This innovative program has been constantly improved over the last year since its inception and now can perform 58 commands, much more than its original designed to complete only one.

"I wanted to write a program to calculate Air Tasking Order dates, which can be a very tedious [process]," Kevin said. "Once it was approved and in use, members of my squadron gave me tons of feedback asking for more functions and I implemented everything I could."

He attributes the success of the program to the creativity of his squadron members and his knowledge of how to write computer script.

"Tech. Sergeant Kevin's creation of SIRI is the story of how bottom-up innovation occurs in the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Ryan Keeney, 15th RS commander. "Airmen see a problem, design a novel solution, and it is rapidly adopted to help combat operations."

His innovative skills aren't new to him, rather, they are the culmination of nearly two decades of learning and application.

"I remember when I was a kid learning how to program video games on an old DOS machine (Disk Operating System), most of my Airmen probably don't know what that is," Kevin said as he laughed. "After that I got interested in doing web design and software programming. That's where my passion is."

This passion coupled with his need to challenge himself, has also spawned other improvements to the intelligence career field community.
As a senior Airman, he saw a benefit for having a secure Wikipedia type website for the intelligence community to inspire collaboration and awareness with other units.

"I saw that the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency wanted to create something like what I was having ideas about and I started to coordinate with them," Kevin said. "I worked closely with them to help implement it in 2005 and now the entire Department of Defense uses it."

Later he was selected to be a technical school instructor, grooming the future generation of intelligence Airman. He spent two years teaching the enlisted operations intelligence course and another two teaching the intelligence officer course.

While there he created a website for the intelligence officer's course. Little did he know, his future officer in charge would go through the course using the same resources he had developed.

"The website is a one-stop-shop for many resources we use for information," said Capt. Carlos, 15th RS intelligence flight commander. "Even now I still use it because it's so convenient and saves me time."

For such major and long-term improvements to the intelligence community and Air Force missions, it may seem Kevin had a destiny to be in the career assigned to him. Actually, his job is far from what he thought he would be doing.

"I signed up to do computer programming and that's not what I do at all," he said laughing. "I remember my first day of technical school the instructor giving us bomb specifications. Not knowing what he was talking about I raised my hand asking when we we're going to start learning about computers and I received a confused look from him."

Despite this, Kevin never became discouraged. He continued to excel at his job and still use his computer skills to benefit the Air Force.

Tech. Sgt. Kevin has made significant improvements to the intelligence community, leaving his 'footprints' engrained into the Air Force for years to come.

"Kevin is one of those great problem solvers who don't wait for someone else to give him the solution," Keeney said. "He took the initiative to combine his intelligence savvy with his off-base education to create a program that would have taken years for our acquisition system to complete. Ultimately his innovations have helped the Air Force save lives."

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