In its own version of the ABC-TV show "Shark Tank, the XVIII Airborne Corps is using innovators among its ranks to solve the Army’s inefficiencies.
This Tuesday, five finalists from across “America’s Contingency Corps” will step into the “Dragon’s Lair” to present their ideas on how to book and use training ranges more efficiently. A panel meeting at XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters on Fort Bragg in North Carolina will choose the best idea and work to implement it across the force.
Presenters will give a three-minute pitch on their idea and then take questions for half an hour. Some of the ideas being presented include an app to schedule training areas and a new marksmanship course to improve lethality.
In addition to working on the development and implementation of their idea, the winner will receive a four-day pass, a Meritorious Service Medal, a school of their choice, and the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ next month.
Tuesday’s five finalists were chosen by vote as part of the XVIII Airborne Corps' new Dragon Innovation Program. In a Facebook comment, the corps expressed a desire to continue such events, saying: “The Dragon Innovation Program intends to be a recurring initiative. And while the ‘Innovation Challenge’ aspect of the program will change with each iteration, all manner of ideas will be accepted for forum discussion. A good idea is a still a good idea.”
The initiative even gained support from “Shark Tank” stars like Barbara Corcoran and guest “shark” Jeff Foxworthy, who said, “I cannot wait to hear of some of the great new innovations you come up with. You know, I have been performing for American soldiers for three decades, and from my experience American soldiers are some of the smartest, coolest, and funniest people I have ever met.”
One of the finalists, battalion land and ammo manager 1st Lt. Nathan Wagner, has plans to change the policies and procedures for requesting and cancelling land use. Using reports generated from the Army’s current Range Facility Management Support System, Wagner found that units are exponentially more likely to cancel their training area reservations as training dates approach.
“My idea is important because it takes aim at a real problem that the XVIII Airborne Corps as well as the Army as a whole, faces," he said. "Successful implementation of these ideas would ensure fiscal stewardship.”
Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.