By Mr. Paul Boyce (FORSCOM)May 19, 2017
The U.S. Army Office of Business Transformation recognized more than a dozen Army agencies May 18 as part of their 2016 Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program (LEAP) during a Pentagon ceremony -- including two uniquely innovative U.S. Army Forces Command awardees: the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, and the U.S. Army Forces Command Headquarters' Deputy Chief of Staff G-2.
The two Forces Command (FORSCOM) awardees from Fort Bragg, N.C., joined other Army agencies recognized for outstanding organizational and project-team efforts using Continuous Process Improvement and Lean Six Sigma methods to transform U.S. Army business processes. The FORSCOM military-intelligence and 82nd Airborne aviation winners say their real achievement is enhanced Army readiness and better stewardship from their 2016 projects, as well as critical time-saved to focus on needed work.
"We developed better processes to make our unit more healthy and highly combat effective," said Army Black Belt champion Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mandee Mintz, 82nd Airborne Combat Aviation Brigade property-book accounting technician. "Going through the Lean Six Sigma process allowed us to use these improvement tools effectively to enhance our lateral transfer of excess property, and fill critical shortages in supplies and equipment."
Mintz, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chris Campbell and a five-Soldier team of battalion S-4s with the 82nd Airborne Division unit championed efforts to remove aging equipment, rapidly acquire needed items and use objective business practices to improve their support to the 82nd Airborne Division Combat Aviation Brigade. The always-busy 82nd combat aviation unit deploys worldwide to "find, fix and destroy enemy forces using aerial fire and maneuver to concentrate and sustain combat power."
The aviation brigade project team's best-business practices are estimated to save the U.S. Army $943,300 over a five-year period, serving as a bench mark for other Army aviation units to adapt for their potential use in managing the logistics of equipment and sustainment of supplies. The project, "Reduce Internal Lateral Process Time," streamlined the handing of thousands of helicopter parts, electronic components, tools and machinery.
Mintz credits the brigade's S-4 project team and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade's senior leaders with their combined efforts to maintain Command Supply Discipline while achieving the unit's high operational tempo. The 82nd Airborne Division relies on the "Pegasus" Brigade and its nearly 90 Army helicopters -- Apaches attack helicopters, Blackhawk utility and medical evacuation aircraft, and Chinook cargo aircraft -- for protection and support during military operations around the world.
The other award recipient, Timothy Mersereau, from Forces Command G2, took his green-belt Lean Six Sigma training in Spring 2016 and soon began working with his colleagues on how to "Improve G-2X Performance Reporting." As the G2X division chief for FORSCOM, Mersereau uses a "dashboard" to track 22 performance indicators-- including monthly reporting, budgets and personnel actions. The team updated their standard operating procedures to make the reporting process more efficient, ultimately reducing the needed worker hours required by 36 per year and reducing process-lead time by 63 percent.
The U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, supports the Army's largest command with "policy formulation, planning, programming, oversight and representation for counterintelligence, human intelligence and security" -- for the Army Corps and Divisions as well as other FORSCOM units within the continental United States.
The August 2016 initiative by Mersereau and his five-person team ultimately reduced the reporting process time from 39 days to 16 hours, and reduced the error rate from 14 percent to 5 percent; saving an estimated $2,400 as well.
"The biggest take-away from this project was communication and the importance of communicating clearly," Mersereau said. "It saves valuable time every month. This was a good learning experience and a great chance for my team as we worked together," he said. "Within the FORSCOM G-2, we're encouraging all of our employees to think about efficiencies in all of our processes, to speak a common language as part of the Lean Six Sigma program. It's a cultural shift!"
Mersereau's LEAP award-winning Lean Six Sigma project is one of six FORSCOM G-2 initiated last year, according to FORSCOM G-2 Stephen Perkins. "Our leadership emphasizes Continuous Process Improvement and Lean Six Sigma as a key part of our organizational culture," Perkins said. "We help build readiness by eliminating process waste and focusing on improving key activities. As an example, our language-program project allowed us to reinvest savings into advanced linguist training. "We focus on ensuring Forces Command receives timely and accurate intelligence, weather, and security support," Perkins said.
"Anything we can do that frees up time to allow Soldiers to conduct training is significant for Army readiness," said FORSCOM G-8's Steven Sawicki, Master Black Belt specialist with the Business and Readiness Improvement Division. "If we can help commanders to figure out better solutions and avoid using borrowed military manpower, then that puts Soldiers back in the units to conduct vital training. We have dedicated Lean Six Sigma practitioners who train, coach and mentor our units, commanders and Forces Command Headquarters staff."
"We're establishing a link with FORSCOM Operations Research/Systems Analysis (ORSA) professionals at Army Corps and Divisions as well as with FORSCOM Lean Six Sigma capabilities, Sawicki said.
For example, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted their Deployment Readiness Exercise in January 2017. About two months before that exercise began, FORSCOM and the 82nd Airborne ORSA and Lean Six Sigma team began planning. They ultimately had about 12-15 people located at sites during the training exercise to collect over 40,000 data points -- particularly studying six nodes of exercise activities. Looking at the Individual Issue of Ammunition, for example, the team recommend how to save three hours of time as part of the 18-hour deployment sequence.
The readiness exercise tested the 82nd Airborne's outload procedures to refine their systems and processes, rehearsing communications systems, and heavy equipment drop platforms, and evaluating cutting-edge technologies to rapidly send thousands of Army Airborne Paratroopers anywhere in the world while maintaining mission command capabilities.
"We can free up time and resources in multiple areas," Sawicki said, so units can focus on other priorities that Army units and Soldiers need to achieve."
Lt. Col Robert Spivey, an ORSA officer working with FORSCOM Headquarters G-8, noted the teamwork behind these two improvement specialties. "If we can help address potential challenges raised at the Forces Command level through the auditing agencies or through the Inspector General reviews, then that will help the Operations Research/Systems Analysts at the Army Corps and Divisions to make their units better." Each Army Corps and Division is authorized two ORSA Soldiers.
Within Forces Command, there are about 250-500 trained Green Belt Lean Six Sigma Soldiers and civilian employees, about 100-150 trained Black Belt Lean Six Sigma professionals, and six Master Black Belt experts or aster Black Belt candidates. They use a monthly forum of meetings, E-mails, phone calls and other contacts to maintain a community focusing on about 50 to 60 ongoing projects at any given time through frequent, ongoing classes and leadership initiatives command-wide.