HULA employs lethal combo of AF personnel, innovation

Detachment 3 commander.

Maj. Edmond R. Chan, 21st Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 3 commander. (Courtesy photo)


America’s Air Force is the smallest it has been since its inception; however, despite downsizing, operations tempo remains high, and Airmen and civilian counterparts are shouldering the burden of an ever-increasing workload. 


To meet the high operations demand while sustaining force readiness, the Air Force leveraged technology which allowed certain functions to automate.  As a result, automation afforded the units some relief and facilitated realignment of its most valued resource to areas deemed critical. 

Unfortunately, automation alone is not enough to master the increasing workload.  Another solution-set is to alter the force composition. 

Compared to the U.S. Army Air Corps’ large military population, today’s Air Force demographic is very distinct from its past.  Our Air Force today has a diverse warfighting force, consisting of military, federal civilians and contractors. 

The aim was to assign uniformed personnel to must-fill, inherently military, critical positions, while federal civilians serve as continuity for the unit, and contractors are used as gap-fillers. With the successful integration of a multifaceted workforce, it allowed the Air Force to find balance between global obligations and readiness. 

The Air Force’s rebalancing effort worked to meet mission requirements, and it could not have been done without creative thinking.

Innovation seems to be the buzzword to use, an indelible key ingredient to ensuring the Air Force meets the demands of today and stays ahead of rapidly evolving impending challenges.  To innovate, we need people that are change agents, dedicated to their professions, willing to take calculable risks and undeterred in the face of insurmountable obstacles. 

In spite of overwhelming challenges, Airmen personnel, both past and present, have demonstrated time and time again we can meet operational and support functions within the prescribed timeline and conditions.  At every organizational level, blue-suiters, federal civilians and contractors have stepped-up, discovered efficiencies through innovation and completed the mission.        

Case in point, the men and women of Detachment 3, 21st Space Operations Squadron, have displayed tremendous resourcefulness under adverse conditions.  This year, call sign HULA experienced a myriad of infrastructure challenges.  One of the biggest to date is a recent waterline break which required urgent measures to sustain quality of life at the site and keep operations running. 

During the event, Det. 3’s civil service and military personnel quickly-rigged handwash stations using only the tools and materials on hand, deployed hand sanitizers, contracted portable restrooms and bottled water within days of the waterline break. 

Additionally, they worked with community partners such as federal and state fire departments for non-potable water supply to keep the storage tanks at appropriate level for fire suppression activities and other contingency events.  Contract operators supported satellite contacts and provided uninterrupted operations to mission partners.  Interim fix actions were quickly coordinated to secure funding and expeditiously executed. 

Each person provided unique solution sets and collectively worked as a team to meet mission requirements, and simultaneously sustain a favorable work environment.  No one complained and everyone knew what they needed to do.  Similar to what big Air Force has done in recent years to meet mission requirements and thrive, HULA has innovated in unprecedented ways.

Whether they are blue-suiters, federal civilians or contractors, Airmen represent the best and brightest of our nation.  Likewise, HULA has no shortage of leaders and innovators.  They are coordinating with support and mission partners for unique options and exploring outside-the-box methods to yield sustainable solutions. 

Throughout the ranks, HULA personnel believe they are valued members of Det. 3, and they are.  There is a strong sense of belonging and pride therefore, it’s not surprising that morale and esprit de corps are high. 

Without a doubt, the steadfast commitment and bulldog tenacity to innovate will lead to success, and all the hard work will bring unit personnel closer together than ever before.              

Finally, as members of the best Air Force in the world, whether operating in benign or non-permissive environments, we know our service has invested an enormous amount of time, money and effort into developing personnel, acquiring the right tools and shaping community partners. In doing so, we have the finest and most resilient warfighting force in the air, space and cyber domains.