Dragon's Lair 9 champions announced

By Capt. Sara BernerNovember 6, 2023

Dragons Lair IX
Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) stands with winners of Dragons Lair IX, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 2, 2023. The winners of Dragon's Lair received the meritorious service medal, a military school of their choosing, and the chance to implement their idea across the Department of Defense. Dragon's Lair is the Department of Defense's premiere innovation competition encouraging ideation from service members around the Department of Defense. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Casey Brumbach) VIEW ORIGINAL

HONOLULU — Army Capt. Chris Flournoy and Staff Sgt. Michael Holloway, both innovators from the 3rd Infantry Division’s Marne Innovation Center, were selected as champions of Dragon’s Lair 9 in Honolulu, Hawaii on Nov. 2.

During the event, which served as the ninth iteration of the Department of Defense’s premier innovation competition, eight finalists — composed of individuals and teams from different military branches — presented their creations to a panel of military leaders and industry experts. Each finalist was allotted seven minutes to demonstrate their innovation and 10 minutes to answer follow-up questions from the judges.

At the competition, Flournoy and Holloway presented their innovation, the Electronic Warfare Decoy Emitter. Low-cost and effective, the device replicates friendly radio signals to confuse and deceive the enemy and allows friendly electronic footprints to “hide” among the decoy signals. A versatile design, this device can also be used alternatively to jam radio frequencies, preventing enemy communication and giving friendly forces an advantage on the battlefield. The device, which is in its prototype phase, is currently only used for training purposes and has been successfully utilized by 3rd Infantry Division units during recent combat training center rotations.

Dragons Lair IX
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Capt. Chris Flournoy, and Staff Sgt. Michael Holloway, U.S. Army, 3rd Infantry Division present their innovation, at Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 2, 2023. Since its inception in Fall of 2020, the XVIII Airborne Corps’ Dragon’s Lair has been emulated by like-comprised organizations across the U.S. Department of Defense. The XVIIIth Airborne corps sees value in unlocking the talent hidden within by inspiring these service members across the Department of Defense to help us solve problems. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Perla Alfaro) VIEW ORIGINAL
Dragons Lair IX
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A panel of judges listen to innovators present their innovations, at Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 2, 2023. Partnered with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, this is XVIII Airborne Corps’ ninth iteration of the Dragon’s Lair Competition. With eight groups/individual contestants representing multiple ranks and branches of the military, competitors have been chosen amongst 122 submissions to present their innovative ideas directly to military and civilian leaders. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Perla Alfaro) VIEW ORIGINAL

Flournoy and Holloway decided to submit their idea for Dragon’s Lair 9 after their fellow 3rd Infantry Division innovators, 1st Lt. Chris Aliperti and Spc. Salem Ezz, won the competition’s eighth iteration in March. This came only months after starting development on the emitter’s hardware and software in Nov. 2022.

“We’re incredibly excited to win Dragon’s Lair,” said Flournoy. “We’re looking forward to bringing the win back to the 3rd Infantry Division and continuing to pursue the advancement of this project.”

Adm. John C. Aquilino — commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command — served as a judge during the competition, which represented the first Dragon’s Lair iteration the 18th Airborne Corps co-hosted with a global combatant command.

“From the strategic perspective, the American spirit of innovation is a critical asymmetric advantage,” said Aquilino. “This competition demonstrates our ability to develop alternative, advanced solutions to shared challenges across combatant commands and allows us, alongside our allies and partners, to address critical challenges across the global commons.”

As a result of winning the competition, Flournoy and Holloway were each awarded a slot in a military school of their choice as well as continued support of their project from both USINDOPACOM and 18th Airborne Corps. Additionally, at the end of the event, both innovators were recognized with Meritorious Service Medals from Aquilino; Canadian Army Brig. Gen. Pierre “Pete” Huet, the assistant commanding general for operations for 18th Airborne Corps; and Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Barker, command sergeant major for the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty.