JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — John Shackell, a force protection business consultant with the Air Force Security Forces Center at JBSA-Lackland, once had an idea “before its time.”
“Over a decade ago, I worked in the Force Protection Battlelab and developed an initiative called REDCAR (Remote Detection Challenge and Response) using unmanned ground vehicles in support of the security forces mission,” Shackell said. “It was not taken up by the career field.”
Last year, Shackell attended the AFWERX Las Vegas workshop on perimeter site security and led the sub-workshop on temporary perimeter security. A small start-up approached Shackell and asked him to develop a viable product. The result was the Perimeter Control Operations Suite, which established a virtual perimeter using a mesh network supported by UGV-carrying sensors.
Shackell started to wonder.
“What if we could deploy a virtual perimeter and look beyond it using sensors,” Shackell said.
Shackell’s submission to the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Innovation Office as part of its “Call for Innovation” campaign is a culmination of several concepts, and his idea is one of eight finalists to participate in AFIMSC’s inaugural “Innovation Rodeo” March 1 in San Antonio.
The campaign ran Jan. 1-31 and received 122 submissions and more than 2,000 online votes. Eight ideas advanced to the “Innovation Rodeo,” where competitors with the top three ideas will receive $200,000 each to get their ideas to prototype via AFWERX and tech accelerators.
“Our senior leaders have committed to participating in weeklong events, where it’s all about the Airmen and their ideas,” said Marc Vandeveer, AFIMSC chief innovation officer. “We want to transition those ideas into the innovation ecosystem and AFWERX challenges so we can get those ideas into prototype and then the implementation phase across the I&MS enterprise.”
Shackell said innovation might be this year’s buzz word, but it’s exciting and motivating.
“We need good equipment much more quickly and current acquisition processes fall behind technology development,” Shackell said. “The idea must be to keep pace with change. To succeed, we need senior level buy-in and an enthusiasm to get things done quickly, but properly. We need a puppet master to work behind the scenes. I think we have it in the Innovations and Analysis Branch of AFIMSC.”