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718th Intelligence Squadron Airman innovates professional development


The 655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, 718th Intelligence Squadron, is at the forefront of innovation within the United States Air Force Reserve community, sending one its own to attend the 480th ISR Wing’s “Innovate, Collaborate, Organize and Network” event.

Held this past March, ICON Talks were developed to bring selected Airmen together from around the globe to discuss innovative ideas and thought processes and provide a venue to pitch their innovative ideas to key innovators from other units. 

“ICON is the place for Airmen to give us their ideas on how we should tackle our problems, see things differently or create something entirely new,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Brown, former 480th ISRW commander.  “Any Airman can lead capability development, organizational problem solving, policy, or process change.”

Tech. Sgt. Helms (first name withheld), 718th IS special security representative, submitted an idea to Distributed Common Ground System-1’s innovation competition, and was selected by the team lead to attend the event. She was the only Total Force Integration representative and was also the sole DGS-1 representative on her team there.

Inspired by the challenges she observed in balancing mission priorities and professional development goals, her contributions focused on creating an interconnected online platform to facilitate deliberate talent management. She believes this needs to be connected to broader personal and professional development efforts.

“Talent management has always been important to me,” she said.  “There is a fine line between talent management and career progression.  Airmen who show initiative need to be groomed and rewarded.”

The team worked hard to refine the problem set and solutions. At the conclusion of the event, she and her team briefed their results to the 480 ISRW commander. Now, over the course of the next several months, Helms will lead DGS-1 efforts to gather data, test, and further develop her team’s ideas for future implementation. This work is key to improving the DCGS enterprise’s ability to develop and retain a premier force of ISR professionals.

“I really hope that we can give people new opportunities at their current assignment and in their careers,” she said. “Our online career toolset is helpful to airmen and their leadership, giving them a potential path and inspiring them to new avenues.”

The Air Force Distributed Common Ground System is the Air Force’s primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and dissemination weapon system.  The weapon system employs a global communications architecture that connects multiple intelligence platforms and sensors. 

Airmen assigned to AF DCGS produce actionable intelligence from data collected by a variety of sensors on the U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and other ISR platforms.

“One of the 480 ISRW’s Line of Efforts is to make DGS an assignment of choice,” said Lt. Col. Brian Brooks, 718th IS commander.  “Tech. Sgt. Helm’s talent management initiative will help improve the development of 6,000 active duty and 2,200 ARC members in the DGS community.” 

The 655 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing is dedicated to serving as the premier and most diverse ISR Group in the United States Air Force, delivering timely, reliable, accurate and actionable intelligence products enabling a decision advantage over adversaries of the United States.  The 655th is an independent wing under 10th Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and consists of two Groups and 14 intelligence squadrons (IS) across Ohio, California, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Maryland conducting 10 distinct missions.  For exciting and rewarding career opportunities with the 655 ISRG, please contact your local Air Force Reserve recruiter or call 937-257-8117.