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Officer’s idea could help preserve mission generation capabilities during contingencies

  • Published
  • By Shannon Carabajal
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – While riding out Hurricane Michael at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, in 2018, Lt. Col. Adam Wallace realized the Air Force had a problem. The commanders lacked a secure contingency communications network that enables the mission to keep going when infrastructure was degraded or non-existent. 

Wallace came up with an idea for solving that problem and now he’s one of eight finalists for the 2022 Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Rodeo.

Originally from Middletown, Ohio, Wallace currently wears many hats at his current assignment with the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. He is a C-21 pilot, the wing’s chief innovation officer and the director of the 2023 Scott AFB Airshow.

We asked him a few questions about his idea, innovation and his thoughts about coming to San Antonio for the AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo.

Q: What is the name of your idea? 
Contingency Communications

Q: What is the problem you’re solving? 
My idea shores up deficiencies in installation communications primary, alternate, contingency and emergency (PACE) plans. 

Q: What is your solution to that problem? 
A highly affordable, reliable and rapidly deployable Wi-Fi 6 mesh network that allows commanders to continue to “fight the base” when everything goes wrong. 

Q: How did you come up with the idea? 
I rode out Hurricane Michael at Tyndall in October 2018. Overnight, we lost all infrastructure and the ability to communicate effectively with each other. It was frustrating to go directly from primary to emergency communications.

Q. How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way? 
This project gives commanders an instantly deployable contingency net in the event we “lose it all” and preserves mission generation capabilities.

Q. How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2022 Innovation Rodeo? 
I stopped having feelings in pilot training.

Q. You’ll be spending a week in San Antonio, learning from leading innovators, collaborating with industry partners and networking with peers, senior leaders and innovation teams. What are you hoping to gain from that experience? 
I argue that Air Force innovation gigs are 99% about building relationships. Sure, understanding the technology is important, but nothing gets done without getting a lot of people to “yes.” I hope to further those relationships in the ecosystem to help us move faster and more effectively on our initiatives. 

Q: Why do you think innovation and a culture change that empowers Airmen and Guardians is important in today’s Air and Space Forces? 
While on a training mission, a pilot training student once attempted to fly us directly into a large thunderstorm rather than deviate around it. His response? 

“Sir, the regulations say I’m not allowed to go into that airspace.” 

This is why driving a culture of innovation is important. We need to, once again, prioritize solutions ahead of risk and new capabilities over instructions and regulations. The Air Force allows the “tail to wag the dog” too often. Unless we change our culture, we will continue to accept catastrophic risk, such as flying into the storm, in favor of appeasing the bureaucratic hairball. 

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
Be bold. Learn to accept a good tongue-lashing from the naysayers with a smile on your face. There is far greater danger in doing nothing than ticking off the frozen middle. 

The 2022 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo will be streamed live on Aug. 19. For more information on the rodeo, visit