AFWERX announces new mantra, mission, vision statements

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX leadership announced a new mantra, mission and vision statement to its Airmen and Guardians in a virtual all-call May 18, 2023.

“We changed some of the wording to talk about teaming leaders and innovation technology,” said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the Department of the Air Force, or DAF. “There are really two areas that we focus on when we think about innovation, our small businesses and the talent that’s out there to include our Airmen and Guardians. AFWERX pairs them together to accelerate capabilities for the warfighter faster than our traditional acquisition system.”

image of leadership

Col. Elliot Leigh, AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the Department of the Air Force, announces a new mantra, mission and vision to its Airmen and Guardians in a virtual all-call from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, May 18, 2023. (U.S. Air Force video screenshot / Matthew Clouse)

Created by leadership, the renewed mission statement – AFWERX accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming leaders in innovative technology with Airman and Guardian talent – encompasses what the directorate is responsible for and how each Airman and Guardian helps accomplish it daily.

“A big part of the mission is understanding what you contribute and to be proud of that,” Leigh said.

AFWERX is the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory that brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF.

During his all-call, Leigh talked about how American Ingenuity helped win World War II and AFWERX is continuing that legacy today. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed more than 4,600 contracts worth more than $2 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base. He said the new mantra, “Unleashing American Ingenuity,” was the most concise way to describe what success looks like for the directorate.

image of eVTOL aircraft

Maj. Mike Corson (left), 418th Flight Test Squadron pilot, and Capt. Terrence McKenna, AFWERX Agility Prime test and experimentation lead, perform a pre-flight check on a Joby S4 aircraft. The Joby S4 is a five-seat electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. (Courtesy photo)

“Ingenuity exists within Americans, which is our private sector, our startups, our Airmen and our Guardians,” Leigh said. “That is what we’re doing here at AFWERX and we’re finding ways to unleash it in 2023 and beyond.”

Leigh also emphasized the importance of celebrating AFWERX success stories that are accelerating change and benefiting the warfighter. He specifically talked about a company that was given a contract years ago to create virtual reality, or VR, headsets to train Air Force aircrew. Today, those VR headsets are used by Airmen on platforms for the C-17 Globemaster III, KC-46 Pegasus and B-52 Stratofortress, to name a few.

“We’re saving millions of dollars and training air crews faster,” Leigh added. “This is what we do at AFWERX. We have hundreds of small wins like this. This also keeps us up to date with what’s going on in the private sector such as taking things that are popular in the video game industry and using them for our mission.”

Those successes led to the new vision statement – Forge an innovation ecosystem that delivers disruptive Air and Space capabilities.

“That VR company is now a graduate of AFWERX,” Leigh said. “They don’t need our help anymore. They’re part of this thriving ecosystem and we need to be matching the Air Force with what disruptive capabilities are available.”

To learn more about AFWERX and its mantra, mission and vision, visit