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The “Best Innovator”: Innovation is the key to becoming “extremely effective and extremely efficient,” Lt. Gen. Gary North, head of US Central Command Air Forces, told airmen during a visit to Balad AB, Iraq. In his view, “the best innovator is the airman on the beat.” North said that airmen have made battlefield adaptations that have led to everything from “better convoy route methodologies” to “best maintenance practices” that enable Balad to fly F-16s “at a rate unheard of in the history of the weapon system.”