Academy cadets showcase asymmetric thinking to the Indo-Pacific

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Senior cadets at the Air Force Academy completed a yearlong research project by traveling to Hawaii to present their capstone project to Lt. Gen. Jon Thomas, Pacific Air Forces deputy commander, May 7.

The cadets worked with PACAF’s Strategic Competition Division during the academic year, analyzing macro-economic data to investigate the potential impact of aircraft refueling options at strategic locations in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This team of Academy cadets helped PACAF approach a complex operational problem through a creative lens,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Winkler, PACAF’s plans and program director. “Asymmetric thinking like this challenges the status quo and enables us to build an Air Force equipped to operate effectively in the Indo-Pacific Theater.”

During their visit to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Force Base, Cadets 1st Class Luke Castro, Natalie Holley, Scott Johnson and Matt Polzin met Winkler to increase their understanding of the challenges facing today’s U.S. military in the region and how PACAF’s strategy enables operational unpredictability through emergent operating concepts such as Agile Combat Employment and Dynamic Force Employment.

The cadets also met with PACAF’s foreign liaison officers from Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore to discuss relationship building as well as cultivating innovation and creative ideas as part of leadership development.

“Visits like this are the first step to building forward-thinking Airmen,” Winkler said. “We hope to continue this partnership with the Academy and inspire future cadets to tackle our hardest problems in innovative ways.”