Innovation programs at Kingsley Field gain momentum, set benchmarks

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jared Boyer
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The Air Force Innovation program stems from former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfien’s vision to solve issues at the squadron-level when the first Squadron Innovation Funds (SIF) were designated. In 2018 a program called WERX paved the way for AFWERX, a program Kingsley Field first utilized in 2019 when they purchased wing-wide WiFi. 

Since that initial disbursement of funds in 2019, Kingsley Field has continued to utilize the program. Between 2021-2022, Kingsley Field has amassed: most funds awarded - $677,000+, most submissions funded - 8, most submissions approved/unfunded – 13—among all 96 Air National Guard wings. This is a remarkable accomplishment and Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, the director of the Air National Guard, specifically inquired about Kingsley Field unit because of those statistics.

Some of the dynamics offering the Air National Guard the upper hand include a diverse populace who bring many, varied skillsets from civilian professions as well as other government professions. Drill-status Guard members at Kingsley Field are no exception bringing people from the medical profession, real estate, fabrication, automotive, railroad, sales and many other career paths to the base for drill weekends or annual training.

These myriad perspectives allow the “Total Force be more effective, more ready, and more lethal,” says ARCWERX co-founder Maj. Bobby Carbonell.

As innovation bridges gaps between problems and solutions, the WERX programs propagates these solutions throughout the DoD rapidly avoiding bureaucratic delays, adds Barbonell.  Several of these innovative solutions began here at Kingsley Field and have proven beneficial to the force at large.

A current project is the Educational Partnership Agreement proposed between the 173rd Fighter Wing and the Oregon Institute of Technology, which will work to cultivate, recruit and harness expertise outside the wing or the Air Force community. The Educational Partnership Agreement will facilitate cross pollination between the two as personnel cross-train and pass along valuable information—but will exclude funding.  

However, the National Security Innovation Network, a DoD organization formed to bring defense, academic and entrepreneurial innovators together to solve national security problems, can pay OIT students for work on projects that benefit the wing. In addition to paying students, such projects also count toward accreditation hours for certain degree plans.

Some areas where students can expect to see opportunities at the wing include Kingsley Field’s additive manufacturing program, the 173rd Civil Engineers Surveying and Geographic Information Systems program, as well as health and wellness programs. NSIN plans to offer OIT students internships, externship programs, and even sabbatical programs as early as this spring term; all of this is designed to enhance the mission at Kingsley Field and the Air Force.

If you or any other Kingsley Airman are interested in participating in this exciting opportunity, consider joining the Innovation Team by reaching out to me, 1st Lt. Jared Boyer at