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National Guard Innovation Competition 2020 Videos
Video by Charles Crosby
National Guard Bureau
June 1, 2020 | 5:27
The Defense Innovation Unit highlighting the small UAS effort.
National Guard Bureau Points of Contact and Links

Mr. Avery Nunez



Defense Innovation Unit

National Security Innovation Network

Leveraging the Innovation Ecosystem to Answer “the question” & Reform the Guard

GEN Hokanson continues to highlight reform as a key to National Guard success. Recently, speaking at the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), he said Guardsmen must continue to ask the question he remembers asking as a battalion commander, brigade commander, and an Adjutant General, “Why do we do it like that?” GEN Hokanson then stated, “We must continue to ask this question, and find the answers.” By answering this question, we can identify and implement new ways of doing business to reform the National Guard.

We must encourage our soldiers and airmen to ask this question as well as support them to find answers. When soldiers and airmen are given time and support, the results help reform the Guard.

Over the last year, the National Guard has built a reform ecosystem to support our State level innovators. Connecting into this ecosystem enables Guardsmen to share their ideas and share the work of finding solutions. Guardsmen can join our ecosystem by contacting any of the POCs at the end of this Newsletter. I encourage any guardsman wondering “Why do we do it like that?” to join the ecosystem. Together, we will find the answers and reform the National Guard.

Mr. Keith E. Buchholz, NGB J8 Programs and Resources/Comptroller
Mr. Keith E. Buchholz
NGB Comptroller
Connecticut National Guard Partners With the US Coast Guard on Innovation

In 2019, the Connecticut Military Department and the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center (USCG-RDC) agreed to cooperate on their innovation efforts. Connecticut National Guard’s Adjutant General, MG Evon stated, “This is a great opportunity for both organizations to support one another on important strategic initiatives and research goals.” CPT Christopher Coutu was designated to serve as the CTNG liaison to coordinate and support R&D initiatives with the USCG-RDC, and the results have improved K9 operations and training tech.

The CTNG and USCG-RDC have mutual interest in safe utilization of technologies to support K9’s. The USCG uses working dogs as part of their mission to secure our maritime borders. The Connecticut Guard has the 928th Military Working Dog detachment.

Together, the CTNG and USCG-RDC leveraged technology to enhance tactical gear and harness lifting safety and effectiveness for K9 operations. New technology includes harnesses to ensure the K9s spine is protected while being lifted, gear to protect the animals head, and lift equipment to efficiently elevate or lower the dog from multiple stories on a ship or airframe.

Collaboration will continue between the Connecticut National Guard and the US Coast Guard Research and Development Center. CPT Coutu stated, “It has been a privilege to partner with and learn from multiple research and innovation leaders at the USCG RDC. There is so much opportunity. I’m excited to see where this partnership will go.”

K9 Wrangler
Washington National Guard leverages Hacking 4 Defense to Help Adjust Pregnancy Related Policies

Female soldiers with the Army National Guard have a clearer path to continued service when starting a family, thanks to the work of the Washington National Guard and a student team participating in the Hacking for Defense (H4D) academic program. H4D is a university program that leverages student teams to address national security problems facing the Department of Defense.

LTC Teresa Wenner, SGT Sharon Gold, and SFC Angela Shepard of the Washington Army National Guard co-sponsored a problem at the University of Virginia titled “Choosing between Family & Service.”

These three Soldiers wanted to address policy issues that made it difficult for female Soldiers to balance starting a family with a pursuing military career. Their goal was to retain world class talent essential to meet the ever-changing needs of the national security landscape.

The student team at the University of Virginia developed a two-pronged approach to address the problem:

(1) Consolidate educational resources - Regulations regarding pregnancy and family planning policies were distributed across numerous documents leaving many soldiers, both male and female, unaware of the existing policies regarding pregnancy. Creating a single consolidated resource enhanced access and increased awareness of all pregnancy and family related regulations. The consolidated resources can be found here: https://unum.nsin.us/pregnancy-promotion

(2) Create policy options - The team recommended changes to allow female soldiers to take part in Professional Military Education (PME) school while pregnant. Female soldiers and airmen need PME for their new rank and job. While physical restrictions were important for safety and should not be changed, some accommodations were recommended to enable pregnant women to progress professionally.

The Army has subsequently changed its policy so that pregnant/postpartum women can be temporarily promoted for 1 year without having to go through mandatory PME. By expanding the temporary period to 1 year, female soldiers have more time to recover and make preparations for their PME.

The H4D program is a powerful tool that anyone within the DoD can utilize. Details on how to access the program can be found in the Innovation Toolbox on the National Guard Innovation Portal: https://unum.nsin.us/ngb

Innovative Partnership to Bring the Space Domain into MING Missions

Story by Master Sgt. David Eichaker, Michigan National Guard

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan National Guard (MING) is expanding its technological capabilities by partnering with a Michigan based company focusing on space domain integration by linking deep space technology to operational and tactical fires.

“Space is vital to national security and this partnership demonstrates an enduring solution for the Department of Defense Joint Fires applications by integrating the space domain from joint targeting to battle damage assessment,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director, Department of Michigan Veteran Affairs. “The technology Orbital Effects offers is near-real time direct downlink of satellite radar imagery and intelligence data from space to tactical user within minutes of overflight and demonstrates the rapid integration of technology prototyping and capability evolution into emerging Joint All Domain doctrine.”

The Michigan Guard and Orbital Effects, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, teamed up to jointly advance emerging doctrine and develop associated tactics, techniques and procedures. The Guard offers the use of their facilities for Michigan-based defense industrial base companies to demonstrate and test their technologies.

“The Michigan Guard identified a need to integrate the Space Domain into the National All Domain Warfighting Center and Orbital Effects identified a need to develop and test their sensor to tactical end-user techniques and procedures,” said Ryan Farris, co-founder and chief financial officer, Orbital Effects. “This agreement benefits both organizations and originated during an industry day held at the 2020 Northern Strike Exercise at Camp Grayling, Michigan.”

This partnership serves as a vehicle for MING to develop future partnerships with sensor-to-end-users, Army Futures Command, and to be the Army’s platform for space-based joint fires integration and effects delivery.

“Our technology provides a theater level direct tasking and dissemination service model that enables tactical commanders to directly/dynamically-task/or re-task an asset as part of an integrated intelligence plan,” said Farris. “This space based radar technology promotes operational and tactical intelligence systems as a way to increase effectiveness of the joint force.” Others agreed the partnership and advanced space technologies serves a bigger purpose. Space-based capabilities are integral to the Michigan National Guard and are an indispensable component of U.S. military power. One base located in northern Michigan is receiving first-hand experience with this technology. Camp Grayling, the largest Army maneuver training center in the reserve component, is a premier, full-spectrum, four-season joint training center and provides year round, customer-focused training support and high quality facilities to enable military commanders and civilian leaders to meet their unit readiness requirements.

“As a premier, world class Joint Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling is a leader in providing efficient, unparalleled and the highest level of modern training,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kent Smith, Camp Grayling, Michigan National Guard. “This provides an enduring solution for Department of Defense Joint Fires applications.”

“This also integrates space from joint targeting and supports current and emergent Army modernization priorities and serve as a preferred option for program testing requirements supporting all-domain warfare to include Space,” said Smith.

Remote Fitness Coaching with Ohio National Guard 179th AW

Air National Guard ARCWERX is helping the Ohio National Guard deliver holistic health and fitness solutions to Ohio guardsman. In August, ARCWERX worked with the 179th FSS to hold a demonstration with the Coach Me Plus team, which is conducting a pilot program funded by Squadron Innovation Funds and an AFWERX SBIR.

Coach Me Plus has developed a comprehensive fitness application that works with personally owned wearable devices and smart phones. Members enrolled in the pilot program can track their diet and nutrition information, work with a certified strength and conditioning coach to have a workout plan tailored to their training needs, and track their activity level. The application has the ability to hold competitions at multiple levels, so a group of airmen from one squadron can compete against each other for workouts.

This project also has the potential to help Ohio Soldiers and increase readiness of the total force. Ohio National Guard is considering Coach Me Plus as a tool to meet Army Holistic Health and Fitness requirements.

Chief of the National Guard Bureau’s Vision for Innovation

Innovation is inherently in our DNA as Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen. Guard members develop imaginative solutions to perplexing challenges daily and their creative ways are needed more than ever before.

Our unique culture embraces partnerships with public and private organizations. It is crucial that we focus with great deliberation on confronting the myriad threats and challenges we find across the defense enterprise.

When we think or read about innovation, topics such as fielding major platforms or advances in weapons systems often come to mind. Although we have Soldiers and Airmen contributing in the technology space, innovation is not limited to technological advances. There are certainly Soldiers or Airmen thinking about how we can better maximize limited time, implement more efficient business processes, improve Army or Air Force policies, or update obsolete doctrine.

Great ideas reside in the field, where our service members may be unknowingly solving macro-level problems. We must leverage the unique depth and breadth of our civilian skill sets along with our military training and experience. Think big and contribute in ways not previously seen. We will find a way for you to channel your innovative thoughts to the proper places.

Our unique business model is postured well to lead innovation. We must fight to adapt and change to make ourselves better.

CNGB Vision for the Future

General Joseph L. Lengyel
General Joseph L. Lengyel
California National Guard – Innovation In Deed
The California National Guard continues to use creative problem solving to accomplish their missions, and protect the lives and property of California residents. In the recent USAF SPARK Tank competition, Tech. Sgt. Matthew Steht and Tech. Sgt. Cory Snyder, of the 144th Maintenance Group, CAANG, presented an innovative way to deploy fighter aircraft to austere location rapidly. Using specially support trailers specially designed to be loaded in C-17’s, they NCOs have potentially reduced combat aircraft deployment time from days to hours. In another example of innovative thinking, the California National Guard is saving lives by using existing reconnaissance resources monitor wildfires, and passing the real time information to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The resulting incident awareness enable CalFire to make quicker decision on shifting firefighting resources or evacuating threatened areas. California sets a great example of creative thinking and innovation.
Louisiana National Guard NCO Recognized for Process Improvement Excellence

Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy presented the Louisiana National Guard civil-military planning senior enlisted advisor, Sgt. Maj. David M. Mula with The Process Improvement Program Team Excellence Award, Enterprise Level award for reduction in the time requirements of combined meeting day processes during the eleventh annual Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program ceremony at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C., May 30, 2019.

“We won this award by identifying areas in the organization that could be made more efficient and redirecting those resources towards processes that generate readiness,” said SGM Mula. “Our original goal was to reduce man-hours and travel expenditures thirty percent. We actually achieved a reduction of man-hours by forty-one percent and travel costs by seventy-one percent. This equated to annual labor savings of $366,000 and travel of $45,000,” which over a six-year period is $2,200,000 and $280,000 respectively.”

“We are extremely proud of our project team that received this outstanding recognition from the Under Secretary of the Army,” said BG Lee Hopkins, the LANG director of the joint staff. “Their process improvement project, which we implemented in our state, allowed us to save money, improve efficiency, and build more readiness.”

“We’ve had a lot of constrained financial environments over the last few years,” said SGM Mula. “So doing as much as we can with the limited resources we have is important. Every dollar we spend is a taxpayer dollar, and it’s our job to safeguard those and to use taxpayer money to the greatest benefit possible.”

Lean Six Sigma Excellence Award Program (LEAP) ceremony was held at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., May 30, 2019
The Army National Guard - A History of Innovation

The Army National Guard has a long history of innovation that started in 1636 and has never stopped. From the 1st Aero Company, established by the New York National Guard in 1908, to the war changing Culin Rhino, invented by SGT Curtis Culin of the New Jersey National Guard during combat operations in 1944, the Army National Guard succeeds because of our creative, talented, citizen soldiers. Today the ARNG Business Transformation Office works closely with the Army Ideas for Innovation (AI2) program to support innovation efforts from across the force. Any soldier can submit their innovative ideas to the US Army AI2 site.

New York's 1st Aero Company in 1916
1st Aero Company, New York National Guard, 1916
Culin Rhino
Culin Rhino, invented by SGT Curtis Culin of the New Jersey National Guard
The Air National Guard Leverages Grass Roots Innovation
The Air National Guard innovation efforts are achieving unprecedented levels of success. The Squadron Innovation Funds program puts innovation resources into each and every air wing in the Air National Guard. Talented airmen across the country have the resources to experiment with new and innovative ideas, reporting their local success back up through their chain of command. Some of those ideas can then be resourced and fielded across the entire force. This is truly an example of the “Strategic Corporal,” as a talented airman anywhere in the country can have an impact on the entire ANG.
SGT Mike’s Innovation Corner

Soldiers and Airmen are natural innovators. They have to be – There is nowhere to hide when you are at the tip of the spear. You innovate, or fail. In the movie Heartbreak Ridge, Gunny Highway instructs his platoon to “Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.” The men and women in our formations do that every single day, and I am proud to serve among the national best – the National Guard. Send your ideas into National Guard Bureau using this email:


General Hokanson wants to get your good ideas to the right staff agency to explore it, develop it, and maybe field it. It doesn’t cost you a dime, and your good ideas could save your buddies life. Thanks for all you do – Always Ready, Always There.