#TechnologyDrivenAirmen #AdaptingAirForce

Today’s Airman is a multi-tasking and technology-driven Airman. Technology-driven Airmen are changing the way the Air Force and its leaders operate. Technology plays a role in how Airmen connect, perform their duties and how leaders share information. The way the Air Force has adapted and will continue to adapt to advances in technology is the reason the Air Force is the leader in cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Ryan Sparks/released)

Today’s Airman is a multi-tasking and technology-driven Airman. Technology-driven Airmen are changing the way the Air Force and its leaders operate. Technology plays a role in how Airmen connect, perform their duties and how leaders share information. The way the Air Force has adapted and will continue to adapt to advances in technology is the reason the Air Force is the leader in cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Ryan Sparks/released)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- A hit song plays quietly in the background. Every few minutes the phone in your pocket vibrates signifying another tweet or a "like" on Facebook. Your e-mail is on one screen while your current project is open on the other. The phone on the desk rings and you answer it without hesitation. This is a common occurrence in today's Air Force.

Today's Airman is a multi-tasking and technology-driven Airman. Most Airmen arriving to their first duty station were raised with technology at their fingertips. The Air Force, its leaders and its Airmen all must adapt to the positives and negatives created by the technology-driven Airman.

Capt. Luis Morales, 69th Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer, has been in the communications field for almost 20 years. He has witnessed the drastic change in technology first hand.

"When I first came in nobody had cell phones," said Morales. "Nowadays everyone has a smartphone, which is basically a computer."

Young Airmen have been exposed to technology from a young age.

Senior Airman Corey J. Gainey, 69th Maintenance Squadron network support technician, grew up with technology.

"I feel that technology has spoiled me a bit. I can access everything I need at the push of a button. I can get information in minutes," said Gainey. "Technology has made life seem easy and it has given me a lot of shortcuts."

The Air Force has benefited from this increase in technology-driven Airmen.

"Airmen are smarter nowadays than they were 29 years ago when I joined.  They think differently and problem solve in different ways than I did as a young Airman," said 319th Air Base Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. David Duncan. "I am continually impressed with the knowledge of technology our Airmen bring to the fight today.  Since we are a much smaller force than we were in 1986, each Airman plays a much bigger role in today's Air Force mission.  This knowledge and ability to use technology will be key to the success of our Airmen and our Air Force in the future."

Gainey, an Upper Marlboro, Maryland native, has been in the Air Force for just over three years. He feels that the technology-driven Airman has benefited the Air Force.

"Technologically advanced Airmen make up the front line of defense for the Air Force. In this era, the battle is fought in cyberspace and information technology is the very foundation we need to defend it," said Gainey. "You have Airmen now that are certified network engineers, architects and technicians in an evolving field. My generation made un-manned flight a reality and cyber defense a lifestyle.  With the IT industry in high demand, knowledgeable technical Airmen are the heartbeat of the Air Force."

Morales said he has a large number of young troops that have benefited from growing up with technology.

"The learning curve is tremendously shorter now," said Morales.

He said he has 19 year-old troops that are running state-of-the-art technology equipment to enable the Global Hawk mission.

In the past, maintainers would carry out hard copies of technical orders to each aircraft under repair. Morales said now they have tablets that contain all the technical orders in one handheld device. New Airmen have been using devices like tablets for the majority of their lives, which allows them to adjust to that system much quicker.

Gainey feels technology has had a large impact on him and his career field.

"Technology has made my job very important as well as challenging. It has given me a step up on competition for when I apply for a civilian job. It has given me a broader range of education and proficiency in different systems," said Gainey. "Technology is my job and it is mandatory that I keep myself up to date with it and adapt every day."

Airmen are affected by this increase in technology both on and off duty.

Morales said when he joined online education was not a possibility. He went on to receive his master's degree almost completely online. Airmen today have that capability from the beginning.

Duncan believes the technology of today is helpful.

"When used for their intended purposes, social media sites are a great way for our Airmen to stay connected with each other as well as friends and family back home.  Of course, military members and their families need to be aware of security risks when sharing information on these sites," said Duncan. "That said, apps like MyMC2 provide our Airmen the opportunity to make plans for unit or office outings which helps support the social pillar of resiliency."

Although Gainey has only been in the Air Force for three years compared to Duncan's 29, he shares a similar opinion.

"The MyMC2 app is incredible. It will definitely keep you up to date with every event, opening, and news on an installation. It is also helpful letting you know about weather information and road conditions in Grand Forks," said Gainey. "Social media sites are the gateway to the news and are also great for connecting with like-minded Airmen, finding jobs and expanding knowledge."

Morales said he would sometimes spend as much as $500 a month to keep in touch with his family in the Dominican Republic. He said that the new technology available on the internet and smartphones allows him and his troops to easily stay in touch with their friends and family back home.

Leadership has benefited and been forced to adapt to the change in technology.

"When I was a young Airman all we had was the local base paper.  Nowadays, we have many different ways to get information out to our Airmen," said Duncan. "There are so many other ways to get that information out there. All our Airmen need to do is go on the Grand Forks Air Force Base website, MyMC2, sign up for the Force Support Squadron Opt-in or read the weekly Messenger put out by public affairs.  The information is at their fingertips, they just need to look it up."

Grand Forks AFB has a website, a YouTube channel, an Instagram, a Twitter account and a Facebook page. All of those sites are run by public affairs and provide information to Airmen. There are also many private groups and organizations on base that have their own social media sites. Most Air Force bases offer similar services.

"It allows you to be more effective as a leader," said Morales.

Morales said technology can be a double-edged sword. He knows having a smartphone can be a distraction, but says it is up to all Airmen, as leaders, to hold each other accountable.

With the mobility and power of smartphones, Morales believes security awareness is an important adjustment Airmen have been forced to make. He believes it comes with a simple solution.

"Number one is you have to know the rules, follow the rules and enforce the rules. If you don't know the rules it's your fault for not knowing, if you don't follow the rules it's your fault for not following and if you don't enforce the rules, it's your fault for not enforcing the rules," said Morales. "That is the fundamental and primary defense we have for any and all security and operational security violations."

Morales said that technology is like a screw driver. He said you can sit a screw driver on a desk and it won't do anything unless you pick it up. Technology is a tool that the Air Force and Airmen have adapted to over the years. Morales offered one last word of advice as technology continues to advance.

"We often rely 100 percent on technology to solve our problems. Let us not do that. Leaders still have to be leaders," said Morales.

The Air Force is the leader in cyberspace and its Airmen play a big role in maintaining that dominance. #TechnologyDrivenAirmen #AirForce #WarriorsoftheNorth #FlyFightWin