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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. General Lengyel also knows that innovation is going on across our force, and he wants to help. Send your ideas into National Guard Bureau using this email:


General Lengyel 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.