By Bob Harrison, FORSCOM Public AffairsMay 7, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (May 4, 2012) -- U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command partnered to provide Lean Six Sigma training to a group of Wounded Warriors assigned to the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion.
The training is the first step for these Soldiers to earn their Green Belt certification; skills they can use in both the Army and civilian jobs. The class that graduated April 13, 2012 is one of the Army's first to receive Lean Six Sigma training while assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit.
Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that allows practitioners to quantify a process, determine what it working, and not working, and then develop data-analysis tested solutions to reduce variations that are hindering the effectiveness or efficiency of the process. The Army adopted use of the methodology in 2005.
Maj. Brenton Briggs, a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt assigned to the USARC Continuous Business Improvement Office, originated the idea to provide this specialized training to Soldiers assigned to a warrior transition unit.
"I've worked with Wounded Warriors before and I've been working with Lean Six Sigma for several years," said Briggs. "I knew the skills sets that we have could strongly benefit the Wounded Warriors."
"This is a skill set they can take with them to not only feel competitive," continued Briggs, "but to be competitive. Civilian employers are using this and see it as a valuable tool."
Briggs enlisted the support of the FORSCOM G-8 Business Readiness Improvement Division, the complementary office between the two commands. Both offices are their command's proponents for Lean Six Sigma training and use.
"Maj. Briggs came to me a few months ago and said we have an opportunity here to spread the word about what Lean Six Sigma can do," explained Jon Shupenus, a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt assigned to the FORSCOM G-8 BRID. "This was our chance to help the battalion with their processes as well as train Soldiers and help these guys learn a skill."
Briggs and Shupenus approached the leadership of the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion to discuss the possibility of providing the training opportunity. The prospect of providing additional skills training for the Soldiers transitioning through the battalion while improving internal unit procedures to provide better care and support to all assigned Soldiers and their families was the main selling point.
Green Belt candidates must successfully complete two full weeks of training that includes passing a certified examination and successfully improving the process of an assigned project. Every candidate is assisted by a project coach, who is a seasoned Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Briggs and Shupenus adjusted this course to conduct the training in half-day sessions spread across four weeks to accommodate appointments related to each Soldier's transition program.
"I think this is a good tool for our Soldiers to put in their kit bag," said Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin Brown, Command Sergeant Major of the Fort Bragg WTB. "For our organization, it is helping us refine our processes and procedures."
"Any additional training we give our Soldiers helps them prepare for civilian life when they transition out of the military," continued Brown, further explaining whether that transition to civilian life comes after their assignment at the WTB or later in their military careers.
Maj. Shay Douglas, Fort Bragg WTB executive officer, expressed her enthusiasm for the initiative by explaining how it supports one of the WTB staff's priorities of work; providing career education and readiness.
"I'm excited because this program," said Douglas, "it's really empowering the Soldier."
This class's cohort included a mix of 15 active, National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers ranging in ranks from specialist to major. The majority of projects assigned to the Green Belt candidates were specifically chosen to improve WTB processes identified by the battalion leadership.
Examples of this class's project assignments that support the WTB include;
• increasing the information flow of events and resources to family members
• reducing the time needed to schedule appointments with primary care managers
• reducing the time it takes to place warriors into work programs
• reducing communication delays between primary care managers and WTB case managers
"I thought this training was priceless," exclaimed Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who will use his training to refine the WTB civilian education checklist, "it is an invaluable tool to help the warriors in transition for when they get out of the military to apply these skills in the civilian work force or in their active daily living.
"I see it helping me a great deal," continued Lunsford, "It teaches you how to streamline things, basically how to save money."
Spc. Mitch McIntrye expressed his appreciation for the course, "The training has been excellent. I have really learned a lot from just how things work and how processes can be improved and I'm excited for how much this puts into my resume."
McIntrye will work on a project to assist USARC improve the process to accomplish a required five-year maintenance schedule for heavy equipment transporter trailers.
Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, FORSCOM deputy commanding general and chief of staff, hosted the class graduation and offered encouraging remarks about the potential for this initiative.
"This is really significant for many reasons," said Bromberg, "As we look to the future for our Army and for individuals, particularly with warriors in transition: This is more of the things we need to do.
"We need to prepare people for transition… not for what I call a soft landing but it needs to be more of a preparation for a smooth take-off."
Bromberg continued, "I also think it is significant that you are taking on projects that are important to the organization you're currently in," said Bromberg referring to the list of projects to benefit the Fort Bragg WTB.
"For you to help us improve the process will be tremendously beneficial to those that follow you, yourself, and also the Army and the nation in the future," said Bromberg, " I commend you for that."
What's next for the Army's latest Lean Six Sigma Green Belt candidates?
Each of these Soldiers will now tackle their projects to help the Fort Bragg WTB and other Army programs.
In the end, they will become full-fledged Lean Six Sigma Green Belts and the Army and its Soldiers will benefit from their hard work.