Team 2 Week 12 Blog
This week our beneficiary discovery continued to focus on deployment and user testing. We conducted A/B tests of program features, including a smart search bar, a calendar style training plan view, and an improved training card design.
- We received good feedback this week on some new prototype feature A/B tests. Military users would like to see an option for a calendar layout, more information on the training card, and the option to use a smart search bar that automatically suggests training based on METL tasks.
- We were exposed to new options for web development, including crowdsourcing through “project discover,” a Duke program run by the colab where interested developers can join. We are not sure whether this is a viable or effective option yet however.
- We reconnected with some continued contacts and connected with some new contacts who like the program enough to be advocates. These will be key to integration past 3rd group 2nd battalion.
- Chief Joe – Company Commander
- Blueprint wins over search. After approved training plan then they get list of METL. If it takes the METL list and looks at venue and dates open with alternatives for cost and location then that would be awesome.
- Calendar wins if it pulls from ATARS and group asc calendars and goes through process above. A one stop shop for dates would be amazing because currently he has five tabs open with five different calendars.
- Current process for scheduling is
-Pull school dates from Atars
-Look at training events run by group
-Look at free dates and overlay the open days
-If contract isn’t open then they may need to look for civilian training(cost, location, and rating is important)
-Currently set aside time for individuals to go to advanced schools(planning individual training at advanced schools would be helpful)
-Balance available dates to open advanced schools
- Will Ye – Student Developer at Co-lab
- Project Discover is a new program run by the colab where people can post projects and then interested student developers can join
- Still new so may take some time and involves posting project specifications
- Alternative is posting to Duke computer science facebook page since that gets a lot of views
- Michael Faber– Manager, Academic Technologies Duke OIT
- Check out Project Discover to get web development help
- Using Project Discover does not cost any money
- Time scale is variable, depending on the intensity of the project
- Tony Fernandez– Research Director, EMS Performance Improvement Center
- To build the back end of an EMS-facing service, you would have to work directly with the state or the national registry.
- It may be possible to instead work with the accreditation body for EMS continuing education, CECBEMS.
- Matt Nash– Managing Director for Social Entrepreneurship, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship
- As you look at civilian applications, it’s important to understand the challenge each industry faces: Is the issue that certain trainings are not certified by the certifying body or is it that the different systems not talk to each other?
- For additional funding, consider entering the Venture Startup Challenge or the D Prize for Social Innovation, consulting the Duke Angel Network, and possibly the Entrepreneurship class.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics and SHRM may give you a clearer picture of how training and CEUs are broken up, by district, country, industry, etc.
- Former ODA Commander Aaron
- Assuming teams buy in, this will save around 8 hours per week.
- Love and would expand on the running budget tracker. Can the budgets of each team be put together to form a battalion budget?
- In terms of A/B testing of calendar vs. list style training plan format- would like to see an option for both. Calendar is good for seeing where team is overloaded and where white space is. List style is good for seeing upcoming training events in more detail.
- Team Sergeant Johnny
- “I’m really looking forward to using something new, we’ve been doing the same thing for 40 years!”
- Add to export capabilities- list of participants with contact info and identifying info
- Tracking ammo should be a priority- amount estimated and expended. Teams already track this but it isn’t organized in one place. New style training card is good for this.
- SF IT Contact – Brian
- Approving a new program to go on the SF network requires a CAPER request. It goes through the Group S6 to USSOC G6 to First FC G6.
- SF systems and rules are semi-independent from Big Army.
- Brian could not think of any web-based applications that they used. He thought SharePoint but when I probed more closely he realized SharePoint was almost certainly being run on Army servers.
- He did not have knowledge of security standards, system administration and monitoring requirements, or commonly used IT platforms/standards that are already in use.
- S8 Jade
- His role is Force Modernization and Innovation.
- His job is to work with G6 to support ODAs in meeting resourcing needs that are more unconventional in nature.
- On innovation-side, he works w/ groups such as Johns Hopkins and MIT to evaluate and ultimately deliver – if possible – proposed systems/hardware to meetin SF needs.
- He was highly enthusiastic about BulletTrain. He has a contact in DC that has been trying to interest him in an upcoming Hacking For Defense conference.
10. Tim Betts
- CICD still the way to go for an installed solution but you lose 75% of the benefit. How often would they update? Who administers the push? How does that staff get trained? Staffing and technical costs would balloon.
- Unless we learn SF has a development infrastructure, setup CICD in the cloud. There just won’t be true continuous delivery. How would we deliver updates? Environment setup and admin requires a SysOps type. On a small team, it is a subtask. Larger team, defined role.
- Secret vs Non-secret is interesting. Does the restriction play out to the internal user-base or if you are on the system, you are cleared for all of it? If the differential was internal as well, we could do altogether separate systems. That would impair the network effects. Alternatively, we do separate databases where needed – different training plan databases but single course catalog. Insights and Enhancements functions would require workarounds. If you take the whole thing to Secret, does everything flatten? Or are there degrees of secret that leave us in the same situation?
- Development, testing, and pre-prod environments are generally straightforward. Proper curation of the mock data is issue as always. Bigger problem is early days there is no existing data to model/scrub.
Team 2 Week 11 Blog
This week we focused on testing a potential MVP feature-set for the Special Forces, a path for realizing revenue in the education market, how we would build the product and completing a site visit.
- Testing the proposed MVP revealed there was still ambiguity regarding the secrecy level of certain data types and that the capability conferred by functionality enabled by that data may be highly valuable to Special Forces leadership.
- In exploring the potential for revenue in the education market, while we did not rule out any of the potential revenue sources. We also still need to find and identify the specific role for each of those channels who can make the purchase decision.
- On the build front, we confirmed the approachability of our designs from a technical standpoint and initial build costs would not be onerous for the base-level product. Still outstanding is clarity around on-going maintenance as well as how far down our potential roadmap the Special Forces would want to go and the economics of doing so.
Sean Talent Development Team Operations Manager/Fmr Operations Manager of a Charter school network
- Value proposition: You’ll want to be really clear about what the advantage of BulletTrain is for teachers and admin, because there are multiple. One side is budgeting, and then if you want the content of your training to be better, you can use our product to find better PDs. You could sell it in different ways: is it a great way to find PDs with a tracking benefit, or a great tracking program with side benefit of PDs, or both? You could go as far as you want to
- Having teachers rate and comment on PD will allow you to build a network, and get other teachers interacting with the clearinghouse.
- At first, it will be on the teachers and the principals to populate, and also people who are hosting PDs can post to BulletTrain. That’s where it becomes valuable to schools because rather than having the schools have to do the work, the training comes to them.
- It’s also an internal tracking tool—principals know what their teachers are trained in– beyond just a shopping service. Principals benefit in the same way that battalion commanders do.
Lee: Former HS Teacher
- You’ll need partner with a district, because they have the central PD calendar. They facilitate a lot of the PD, and a lot of state or professional PD won’t come to the area if the district didn’t bring them in.
- Schools and districts have strategic priorities for the year. If they’re contracting with partners for the year, it requires some careful planning. Whether a teacher could choose their own PD depends on the school and on how each school budgets, no matter if traditional or charter. If there are general funds allocated, then that could allow people to take advantage of it.
- It would also help for companies who do professional development to understand their competition, so they may be willing to pay for advertising.
- Teachers are incentivized by the fact that they have to get CECs. You give them a way to see if other teachers have been able to use a specific PD and see if they got credits for it.
- Operations Sergeant whose job is to interface with the battalion and group levels to resource support that the ODAs need such as extra medic oversight or vehicles with drivers to support a training exercise or actual deployments.
- In addition to support for training, they also regularly deploy in their support capacities.
- ODAs submit request for supply RFS and they send that up to get materials. Those requests can come in the form of a verbal conversation, email, or the actual RFS form. Regardless, when the request goes up the chain from the Operations Sergeant it is the formal RFS form.
Staff Sergeant Jake
- Rely heavily on their wealth of experience as both have been doing this job for 7 or more years. They know pretty much exactly what kind of medical personnel, drivers, special equipment the team is going to need for a big training event.
- Biggest concerns are not being able to track their requests. They have a weekly meeting where they may ask for a check in on for example their request for 6 humvees but usually the battalion just tells them that ‘they’re working on it.’ Or something to that effect. Only accountability is them asking the person who they asked who has to ask the person they asked etc. (potential for feature here).
- Don’t think that our system will be particularly helpful for them.
- Currently use DTT to track training concepts and there is a page of AARs for approval.
- If this fairly disorganized system is true, then battalion and group may not have much accountability for requests.
- Our system would be a natural place to initially identify an RFS need and send it up. It could then provide a cross-organization view of all requests, measure the impact of granting or denying the request, even compare the relative value of two different requests as measured by anticipated impact on readiness. These implications were not clear to the Sergeants. Is that due to lack of value? Inability of us to convey that value?
- Regarding what would be most powerful for him to show his superiors with regard to our product:
- Overview of the training catalog and ability for the ODA to build a training program emphasizing the benefits to the ODA regarding time savings, access to better training alternatives, etc.
- Then highlighting some of the management-level capabilities, ability to see colors of money, forecasting ammo and equipment needs.
- Finally, depicting some of the secondary conferred benefits such as ability to measure the marginal utility of training dollars, deeper force analysis and potential identify the team/individuals that can be most-quickly pivoted to a new mission type.
- While posing potential product features it became obvious it is still unclear on the Army-side where the line is that would move our product from the unclassified network to the classified network. Just as importantly, the relative value of the difference in capability between those two product profiles is unclear. This was illustrated when we outlined how the system could identify the team/individual that was closest to meeting a new METL profile. Turns out this problem is valuable to leadership and another outside team has been working it for a few years and is not nailing it.
- Wind tunnel is really expensive, million dollar contract. Bought by USSASOC. Plays into highlighting an active vendor contract.
- Team’s use of the wind tunnel is built into the contract in such a way that it does not factor into the expense of the team’s specific training exercise.
- In addition to using the tunnel itself, they will bring in a profession skydiver with thousands of jumps to help train them in free-fall techniques and stability management.
- Arizona is used for Free-fall training. Have to use Arizona because it has 270 drop days a year compared to about 180 a year for north Carolina.
- Took us through the the mechanics of the jumping- i.e. 25,000 feet for MFF – calculating drop point to hit the target, etc.
- Now going to be standard for all special forces to get free fall MFF trained
- Each company has a MFF team. That team must rotate to Arizona once every training cycle and it takes a month.
- Allocated 50,000 dollars for that month but it usually only takes them 30,000.
- Not doing other training while they’re out there as they need to complete 25-30 jumps during that period.
- They have to work a variety of subtasks – work on free-fall technique, insertion calculations, formation management in air, use of oxygen at high altitude, etc.
- Took us through the on-the-ground training that each soldier completes before a free-fall jump.
- Fully rigged Mihir demonstrating and explaining all the connections and complete set of checks completed by the jumpmaster prior to clearing the jumper.
- Completed static line management while on plane. Clip routed over appropriate shoulder given side of plan you will exit and tucked into collar. Completed pre-jump sequence standing, clipping in, maintaining static line control and ripcord awareness.
- Initiated jump – maintain full arm length between next jumper – strongly exiting plane.
- Contact lead for Duke Student Developer team.
- Cost of development of v1 of our application would be $1,000 – $1,500.
- It would be complete by June 1st. Earlier is possible but it would push the cost closer to $1,500.
- It would be built using React + Django + SQL. That would make it compatible with AWS.
Team 2 Week 10 Blog
This week our beneficiary discovery revolved around continued testing on users stemming from a more developed, more usable prototype. We also began talking to folks in the technology sector of the battalion and private sector who could help us understand the building and roll out of our program.
- We will be creating a web-app. This will likely cost in the thousands unless we are able to learn how to do it completely autonomously (unlikely). Major Schubert has suggested we speak with the applied physics lab at Hopkins. We are considering options.
- The prototype is well developed. With a few added capabilities, we are getting to the point where ODAs are excited and ready to try it out.
- If our product is valued at under $250k, it will be able to be acquired fairly quickly using group level funds.
- Cpt. Mike D
- Having multiple data points for each training in the shopping cart is confusing and unnecessary
- Love the cost estimate worksheet editor
- For next prototype, it would be useful to have a CO/XO display screen where they could see what this program would provide for them. Hopefully battalion wide aggregated data.
- Cpt. Kyle
- program should export to complete the METL crosswalk
- program will be helpful in constructing semi annual training brief, if we could focus on that it would be great
- Program must export to long range training calendar, this will make ODA commanders willing to use it and could actually be a selling point.
- Eric, Duke OIT
- Sites are hosted through a Duke server. There are some restrictions if anything is Duke-branded.
- Building sites through a private contractor typically cost in the thousands.
- Sites@Duke is a service to look at
- Ryan, Web Developer
- Dropdowns (using existing data rather than searching for patterns) will be a lot easier to make.
- Figure out where the code itself will be hosted—military? Duke? If it’s at Duke, make sure that it is compatible with their app development language.
- This would be pretty quick for me to write—maybe a week or two. For a private firm, that would be around $7,000, but if you use Duke’s staff programmers, it is likely to be much more affordable.
- Bobby, Firefighter EMT
- The issue most people have is that what the national EMT registry and what county certifiers will accept don’t always match.
- There will really only be one database parameter: The national registry of EMTs or Paramedics
- If the “big boys”– the counties, national registry, etc. were able to streamline using this tool, it would benefit the EMTs.
- SFC Gumpert
- SFC Gumpert has not been part of any of the interviews to date or part of the design session held at Bragg about a month ago. The most recent video did not paint a full picture for a neophyte to our product concept.
- In discussing the wider vision for the product – specifically the team profile, he thought some people might be concerned about having their info on another database.
- He has a great framework for differentiating skills practice from the ability to best choose and deploy skills in real-world situations. The ideas are powerful but we struggled to figure out how to translate them to an implementation that could be objectively measured.
- Tim Betts
- Confirmed the envisioned functionality requires a robust database. Therefore a non-SaaS product – a product Special Forces could administer themselves – would at the least require they have the hard and soft infrastructure to administer some form of database server.
- Confirmed that the data structure required access to properly scrubbed real world data to ensure proper database design and sufficient QA testing.
- Confirmed that we could certainly design a system the Special Forces teams could input the data into and create the interrelationships. However, then the testing burden falls to them.
- Basically, end result is that the best user experience is almost certainly a turnkey SaaS system. And whether we deliver a turnkey SaaS system or an on-premise system they customize themselves, there is going to need to be a dedicated team that possess expert database and programming skills as well as security clearance.
- Captain Mike T – Procurement 1st SFC
- At the unit level below 250k can buy at unit level – with dollars that can reside at the group level or operations or maintenance. Takes roughly a month and strongly suggested
- Factors influencing whether SFC will buy
- Requirement for the capability(needs to be validated by a general officer
- ROI(if you can save x time, time is one of the most precious resources in military, free them to do more training instead of planning)
- What applications in the deployed environment(how does this help ODA fight bad guys)
Suggested Procurement Process(right now is fairly on track)
– Deal with Major Schubert one of the senior managers in the battalion
– Get buy in from Ryan(controls resourcing for the department)
– Get buy in from S4 and comptroller(part of demonstration of saving resources)
– Buy in from ODA leaders
– Let Ryan progress and we support
– Get support from group commander and make sure he has money left in the budget
- Major Ryan
- Applied physics lab at Johns Hopkins can help us see the project to completion IF we want to pursue that path
- Ryan was very impressed with the new prototype we were able to show him which was a more interactive training card that teams could use.
- Looks like much of our program can be implemented through NIPR, making it much easier to acquire and for us to maintain.
- Scheduled site visit for next Wednesday
Team 2 Week 9 Blog
This week our beneficiary discovered involved showing our prototype walkthrough video to our beneficiaries in 3rd group as well as other military personnel outside of 3rd group in the Army and Air Force.
- Our program will save teams steps and time on researching historical data and developing the cost estimate worksheet
- The long range training calendar function is not particularly useful, but may need to be a part of any product
- Outside professions such as law that do not require very specific trainings will not find our program particularly useful
- Major Paul – 82nd Regiment Operations Officer
- Normal on/off-site training is easy for the 82nd because they repeat training a lot. Hard part is managing ammunition for ranges
- Current process includes: Modifying numbers through analysis(Need to factor in # of targets, # number of people, hours of daylight, account for less ammo used with blanks due to jamming) – takes a long time to calculate(~500 man hours!)
- If these ranges had historical data and we made a calculator that factored in the correct things, this would make it a lot easier. Major Dunn wants to make the S4 position more data driven(forecast farther out and reduce surprises).
- Captain Josh – S4
- Full procurement process is lengthy and may take 2-3 years. Involves requesting bids and then going through rigorous testing
- If under 10k or between 10-25k then they can use their SF issued credit cards to buy possible after the approval of the S6(comms)
- If it is over 25k and we serve a specific purpose and we have a DUNS number then they can potentially acquire the product through PRNC(fill out form and then money is wired to us after delivering product)
- Major Tak (Sep.)- US Air Force IOS Intermediate Cyber Pipeline
- ”Tying into DTS automatically and pulling out real numbers, you can save hours and hours and hours.”
- The ability to tie into training plans and forecast future training needs will save weeks’ worth of time, and helps build a complete picture on the back end, and be very useful.
- In the Air Force, training for mature career fields is pretty cut-and-dried. For new fields like cyber, designing training from scratch was like playing darts in the dark— you don’t know if you hit the mark until later.
- Lieutenant Mike – US Coast Guard Domestic Vessels Inspections Branch
- I get my funding for the year up front, $50 grand for all 12 members of my shop for training, property, and operations. Since I have a small team, I’ll know how much training I need to do depending on who’s coming in, and can budget accordingly. We get 2-3 new guys who cycle in per year. I’ve been in my position for long enough that I also know right away who needs what training within a few minutes of talking to them.
- If I ever have a shortfall, I can literally walk to talk to my superior, or go up to the district, and have a face-to-face conversation. If there isn’t money there, I can negotiate with other divisions. The whole process takes only a few hours.
- To be honest, this seems like a great program, but I don’t think it works for us, because scheduling/budgeting isn’t that hard with a unit as small as mine. If I had a unit of 70 people, I would like to use this.
- Song (Civilian, Lawyer)
The bar treats CLEs as an honor system– it’s self-reporting with some auditing.
- “CLEs run $800-$1500 per course. Non-profits get CLE courses for free. If I didn’t get classes for free, or if I were a small one-person firm, it would change my calculus, and this tool would be useful.”
- When it comes time to fulfill requirements, it depends if you want to learn or just want to check the boxes. Some people will sign up for online classes and have them playing in the background while they do other work, just so they can complete it.
- Major Ryan – Battalion XO
- Feedback on prototype video was very positive, people are really excited about creating a system that improves the training process by cutting down steps
- They would like to see a more refined search with filters. Filters would help ODAs choose certain locations and certain prices that fit their training and plan
- If our system goes on NIPR, then it will be relatively easy to get the product in the hands of ODA leaders for testing. It just needs to pass legal and IT and they should be fine
- There are workarounds to the full procurement process but it depends on the cost of the software and level of network access required
- Chief Matlock
- Order of operations for populating training calendar: 1. Enter cycle start date and Deployment date. 2. Input dictated events – training holidays, dictated training events (big/group events). 3. Individual schools. 4. Collective METL events.
- 350-1 Manual lays out individual courses and recommended training for each role on the team.
- Scott Frederick
- Starting from zero, getting to actual purchase will take 2-3 years.
- Standard route is to have sponsor put forth an initiative proposal outlining the reason for the investment in new technology. That then advances to POM Submission (Program Objective Memorandum) which seeks investment money for the program in the next year’s budget. It is then submitted to the Pentagon for consideration into the overall budget. Assuming it is included and funds allocated, it then goes to the Regional Contracting Officer who works with internal stakeholders to draw up the contract which includes deployment conditions.
- A non-standard route would be for already allocated funds to be diverted to fund your product. This is most likely in the case of “must have” technology that provides a war fighting capability that is immediately in demand.
- Capt. Barney
- Signals Commander part of HQ Support Group
- Biggest pain point is that PFCs come to his group straight from Advanced Individual Training and in all likelihood have zero exposure to the systems used in Special Forces. Ideally, he would like to see the AIT curriculum expanded. (Note that Signals members do not go through standard Special Forces induction path.)
- The Signals group does not follow a deployment and training cycle like the ODAs. Signals team members are tasked out to ODAs and become part of the ODA when the ODA requests support.
- There is not an existing tool or system for tracking the capabilities and training of the members of the Signals team.
- Maj. Tadd (Army Rangers)
- I think that this system will be more effective for Special Forces/Special Operations type units because they manage training at a much lower level. In the conventional Army, all of this is managed at the Battalion or Higher Level.
- Forecasting ammo is where the BulletTrain could be the most helpful. Units are terrible about recording how much ammo they used on any given range/event.
- Incorporating AAR into BulletTrain could actually take more time, since the AAR process isn’t going away, and it’s now another system you have to log into and upload something.
- Cpt. Chris
- Longest part of training plan is finding hotels and rental cars, it gets expensive when you have a full team doing a week of training
- CEW worksheet editor would save a lot of time
- Ammo forecasting is necessary. It isn’t the most difficult part of the process right now but it could be almost fully populated by past data.
Team 2 Week 8 Blog
This week our beneficiary discovery focused on A/B testing this week’s MVP and talking with internal problem solvers. We also continued to do some dual-use and outside user research.
- Removing data entry redundancy is high priority for making our product viable. The program essentially must be a one stop shop.
- Current systems really are a “pandora’s box” of spreadsheets. System must be able to centralize all of them.
- Improved user interface will make teams more likely to input information. Has to be simple and only a few clicks.
- Would be great if program could output MICON documents such as the cost estimate worksheet
- Cpt. Nick – Kessel Run
- Often times the higher ups care about increased combat capability
- Say that with this saved time manually entering things they can spend that time thinking instead
- Maybe create new metric that allows them to measure their progress better(ex. What percent of METL tasks are at a T rating after these courses)
- Major Ryan – Battalion XO
- If we created a course catalog, with the ten(or more) most frequently used courses with the info we’ve been putting on the MVPs(cost, location, forms, etc.), made a tool that would generate the CEW from historical data(seems like an important feature to add), and added the ability for them to add more courses, that would help the ODAs a lot.
- It also sounds like the best course for us is to make a simple, easy-to-use form that one of Ryan’s captains can then use to fill in the historical data since we cannot
- Once the app is approved onto NIPR then the app must be added to their portal so that the right people can use it. To find more information about IT specifications for the portal we need to talk to Christian Cordero, the battalion portal manager(already on the engagement tracker) and for more info talk to the guys who work in RJ’s shop.
- Captain John (Ret. USMC)
- Every platoon commander would dream of having a tool like this, because they can click submit and go train. But inevitably, there is some sort of sticking point—division has to get all flu shots, or someone’s mom is sick, or battalion has to meet certain standards of dental health. So much stuff happens in the margin that thinking you can reliably predict farther out than a couple of days is foolish.
- Your MVP will only work if multiple people the slap the table and say “we need this.” The key to success, in my mind, would be if you had a team from colonel to captain that embraced it, and if the next group of dudes that come in adopted it.
- A lot of guys wind up recreating the wheel once they’re in command, and each guy uses the spreadsheet he used when he was a platoon leader. And it’s always under the comment of “Oh man, this is going to be so much easier to use.” I find it very difficult to predict an end to it. On one hand you want innovation and iterative improvements if the system’s not working, but it becomes a pandora’s box of spreadsheets.
- Nelson (Lawyer)
- This could apply in law, but it’s not necessarily for the lawyers themselves. We have an internal team at the firm making sure we’re up to date on continuing ed requirements. Secretaries especially are in charge of this.
- That said, sometimes lawyers get down to the wire and say “let me knock all of these hours quickly,” meaning they go to a conference at the last second.
- People do just google potential conferences, rather than thinking about what specific courses would lead them to improve.
- Captain David (Former ODA Commander and AS3)
- In an ODA, the Captain is only there for 2 years—Warrant Officers are where the continuity is, 6 years. They should be the ones to go through the BFA, ideally. If Warrant is absent in some way, it hurts. The team sergeant also has the knowledge of what’s out there in terms of training, since he’s been in SF for 8 yrs by the time he’s an E8. Information about training gets passed down ancestrealy, not codified.
- HSF group has a “Lessons Learned” guy. After every time we do a major training event off-post, every team leader does a AAR, and “LL guy” is supposed to aggregate these. I didn’t utilize this as a team leader, but once you get to battalion, you realize how important it was.
- Be sure to look at DTT—it’s a mandatory practice, and the official channel for me to submit things up to higher. As a leader, I let me warrant handle it. I didn’t get to involved. When I was in battalion, it became my world. I’d challenge younger team leaders to use DTT now. When I went to staff, I was much much more involved in it, it let me tell what each team is doing, and know what battalion can do for them. Every day I’d go through postings of DTT, and see what was new.
- Sgt Guzman
- Regular problem they run into is ODAs trying to order supplies at the last minute before a course. It would be great if the app had mechanisms to address this.
- Equipment lists for courses could be sourced from a few places:
- The vendors often state what equipment is supplied vs what the ODAs need to bring.
- S3 could run reports of past purchases
- He keeps a log of basic shopping items – such as chem lights – the ODAs request and uses that to forecast purchases over the next six months.
- Chief Officer
- Having the Risk Assessment for a given training is a good idea as it could be reused by each ODA.
- Consider adding the Nearest Medical Facility, its level of care as Accident Plan needs to be part of each training.
- Consider having the Accident Plan as part of the course. Needs to allow for a place for the ODA point of contact while training.
- The METL associated with the training should be listed.
- SOCForwardNWA (Classified system) is an online risk assessment generator tool that publishes the risk assessment to an approved PowerPoint template. That would be a great model to replicate for training.
- Kati Samerigo
- AWS is a familiar platform for the Army. Look for the FEDRAMP certification for any cloud technologies/platforms you might want to use. Level 5 is for unclassified. Level 6 is for classified.
- SOCOM out of Tampa would be the petitioning entity we would need to sponsor internal accreditation of our application.
- Interoperability of systems is not a significant army focus so whether APIs exist for touchstone systems such as DTMS will primarily be a function on whether the civilian version – if it exists – of that software had APIs.
- Chief Matlock (ODA NCO)
- Final evaluation before deployment focuses primarily on Shoot, Move, Medicate, and Communicate. i.e. It does not necessarily tie to all of the METL the team was focused on over the training cycle.
- DTMS is administered and referenced at the battalion level. ODAs will continue to need their own view of the team that is currently accomplished via spreadsheet.
- The sample BFA is for a team that has to completely rebuild and it encompasses all the different ODA specialty types. No single BFA would be that extensive. (Scheduled follow-up meeting to walk it in detail.)
- Captain Mike – Charlie Company BATXO
- What would be mindblowingly amazing- i click on training portal x, and click on new training. And it populates the training card. It has a box for micon required- if yes, ability to input everything required for a MICON. If MICON no- then just the format required for training card. That would be fucking epic.
- Not much use to the simple style MVP
- Mike told us all of the information used in the training tracking system they are using in Charlie company
Team 2 Week 6 Blog
This week our beneficiary discovery focused on retesting new aspects of our MVP with contacts we already had interviewed and continuing to seek out civilian applications.
Interview count this week: 8
Interview count last week: 17
- Civilians that we have interviewed are very excited about the potential of our MVP
- MVP needs to replace or work with the cost estimate worksheet, as it is used for every training evolution and doing it twice would just be more work
- We should look into other military training resources such as DTMS and RFMSS to see how our product can work within or supplant them.
- Cpt. Chris – ODA commander
- The ODA Weapons Sgts are the best people to discuss planning weapons training, booking range time, ammo needs
- Each ODA has a slightly different team profile workbook. Will share our team’s template.
- Different teams have different levels of historical training and MICON repositories to fall back upon.
- Chief Joe – ODA warrant officer
- Most ODAs do only one MICON per training cycle. CREF ODAs do 7-8.
- Their company has an archive of MICONs. Takes him about 4 hours to turn a MICON since he almost certainly has a recent example of a similar training plus this is his full time role.
- DTMS is the Army’s training management system for individual training tasks. SF has avoided using the system to date but it was recently mandated within SF as well. It will likely take the place of the team profile spreadsheets – or at least parts of them.
- Major Ryan – Battalion XO
- Hardest part is planning when to schedule training events based off long range calendar (especially when deployment times change) Second hardest is filling out the cost estimate worksheet(must be done for both on and off base training)
- Two documents that must be filled out regardless of on or off base:
- Risk assessment(difficult to tackle could be useful to auto fill later) which describes what risks lie in training and how they will mitigate those risks and then list residual risks
- Cpt. John
- RFMSS is a database of all the range coordination to see other units that are using that area. You cannot use a training area until it has been approved and deconflicted against other training units. All of the US military bases have joint service training. If Army has it marked down on Feb 23rd, I (as a Marine captain) can’t use it.
- A savvy infantry officer or ODA captain uses RFMSS as a predictive tool to forecast training out 3-4 months. This is very important because worst thing that happens is last-minute friction of a RFMSS conflict.
- RFMSS can be a very powerful tool, but there a bunch of flaws. User experience isn’t great, but the idea is right.
- Cpt. Josh – Battalion S4
- Going under budget should never be a concern, if the teams go under budget there are numerous things that the battalion would like to buy that they normally don’t have the money for.
- Would like a total cost and a way to input final costs of training
- System must include all items on a cost estimate worksheet so that work doesn’t need to be done twice
- RN Anna
- Nurses are required to keep up with 20 continuing ed requirements to stay certified, but most people wait until the month before there certification is up and do it all online.
- I’m sure if I spent a bunch of time, I could find 20 hours of free courses, but because of my time crunch, I’d rather just pay $20 to have them all in one place.
- As it currently exists, the process is very easy, but not particularly high quality. I love this (MVP). It probably would save a lot of time and is convenient. If the hospital would provide me with a list what people have done before, that would save me even more time and I could see what is a credible class.
- Firefighter EMT Bobby
- Every firefighter is at least an EMT if not a paramedic.The way we do it (through the national registry), it sucks. If you don’t upload it there, if you try to upload your CE’s at once, it gives me heartache trying to stay up to date.
- The current process is probably the hardest thing. I’m going to let my national registry lapse because I have to jump through hoops, and some classes don’t count. I worked hard for my certification, but it’s too much of a pain in the butt to upload and if it’s not up to the national registry’s standards—if they don’t like it, or who taught it– they don’t count it. County and state are lot more lenient about what they’ll accept.
- This MVP would be beautiful for us—I can see applying it to airways, breathing, circulation. It’s easily read, “I need this class, so I check this box, and add it to my shopping cart.” With the National Registry, you’re left guessing. This would clarify a lot of things, because I now could know if didn’t get enough X recert hours and make a decision accordingly.
- Lieutenant Matthew (Fire)
- In California, opting to train through the CalJAC system pays money back to your department. Some departments throughout the state love it, and some don’t sign up for it.
- With CalJAC, the individual firefighter only gets additional money if they use the GI Bill.
- The budget side of training is really not a big concern for us. We do most of our training in-house, and if we want to go outside, someone reciprocates with us. In the Fire community, we’re willing to train others if they’re willing to learn. We’ll make it happen.
Team 2 Week 5 Blog
This was a very successful week of beneficiary discovery. We stacked up 17 interviews and were able to talk with many ODA commanders, the beneficiary we have identified as most important. We further developed our MVP and presented it to members of 3rd group 2nd battalion on a site visit to Fort Bragg, where we were able to receive direct, in-person feedback as well as develop relationships with contacts for the future. We also spoke to members of the education and emergency response industry to feel out the possible applications of our future product towards other industries.
Summary of Key Insights and Trends:
- Tested and debunked the concern that ODAs may view their needs and training events as unique snowflakes that would lead them to reject a recommendation engine or training catalog.
- Tested the concept of Amazon ratings. They were highly enthusiastic about the potential value it brings. They did not feel it imposed a meaningful amount of additional work for them to enter ratings.
- Tested the level of pain ODA commanders feel with the current process. We were concerned that ODA commanders had not been expressing a sufficient amount of pain around the current process during our calls. When we were face to face, they were highly engaged, offering lots of suggestions and anecdotes, and asking lots of questions. Consistently, people rated the current process 4 or 5 with 5 being the most common response.
- Tested whether there was value in the proposed system. Everyone believed that if the system performed as described it would dramatically reduce the level of pain and provide additional benefits.
- Sergeant First Class RJ – Communications Specialist
- Hardest parts in filling out the worksheet are estimating costs and gaining approval from superiors. Sometimes they inquire whether training could be completed cheaper.
- Good reaction to MVP. Mentioned that everyone gets stressed around budget deadlines as the current process is a “nightmare”
- “Things that pre filled out are always good.”
- If a webapp, then we must first host the website ourselves and then if the military likes it they will acquire and eventually run the webapp internally
- Mr. Sean, Charter School Network Talent Development Team Operations Manager
- The tool is very useful, and can solve a very clear need for tracking teacher professional development.
- Great improvement on current system. If the whole charter network could feed into populating the system, you’d gain more at scale.
- Allowing teachers or grade/department chairs to self-assess and request the training they want makes people feel like they own their PD more. That keeps them more engaged at work, and benefits the school. That said it it’s incumbent on the leader to follow-up when the teachers don’t get the training they requested.
- This easily populates a ranked budget– once you reach the limit of the funding you have for teacher training, you can cut it off.
- Who’s going to populate the catalog material? If other teachers go out and find great PD, then they can share it with their coworkers.
- Captain David – ODA Commander
- The current tool is frustrating in that there are redundant pieces, plethora of requirements that are out there. Copy and Paste is the right answer, but no one puts in the dates. If the historical data can populate, and fill in with accurate dates, it’ll be an improvement.
- Risk assessment is always hot button– the training is always the same, but the risk assessment is an additional step that must be done each time.
- There’s always talk of creating this mythical document of translating dollars spent into readiness. Maybe having a team focused on it full-time can finally make it happen.
- This gives me a place to start with the budget, but beyond that I don’t see how this helps with completing MICONs.
- Captain Jim – ODA Commander
- Big pain is finding approved vendors and keeping budget for a vendor below $25,000, the cutoff at which you must write up a contract with that vendor in order to use them
- Another big pain is not knowing what documents must be approved before certain training tasks. Told story about already having parachute on his back for jump training and receiving a call that he hadn’t filed some necessary paperwork.
- Providing an easy way to access AARs would be great for solving both of these issues
- Captain Chris – ODA Commander
- Having a list of approved vendors would be huge
- No system exists to catalogue training shortfalls for individuals or teams
- Connecting money to readiness will be difficult because of how diverse special forces training is, but it would be very useful for keeping those approving the budget accountable for how ready their teams are
- Dr. Tony – EMS
- EMS is required to have recertification every two years or so. This includes either in-service training or going to conferences.
- Volunteer and small-state agency EMS teams have to pay for their training out of pocket.
- “Folks have been looking for something to track continuing education for a long time. The difficulty I see is that it’s late in the game. With what you have here, for volunteers, anyone managing and paying for their own con ed, it helps. Proactively helps decide not only where I’m going to get my hours but what it’ll cost me as well.”
- Cpt. Leonard – ODA Commander
- The current process of making the yearly plan and budget is extremely painful. He rates it 5 of 5. It also regularly requires nights and weekends.
- His ODA has a consistent mission assignment. As a result, there is definitely opportunity for that ODA to recycle significant portions of past training plans.
- He also believes there is significant overlap in the training activities of the various ODAs. Consequently, there is opportunity and value in a catalog of training.
- The proposed system – if it truly works as described – would dramatically improve the process.
- Chief Villanueva – Group Maintenance Chief
- The ODAs definitely regularly reuse training events.
- For the teams he has worked with, the chief and commander solicit bottom-up feedback from the ODA for the next training cycle. They then pull-out the various METL guidance and decide on how to orient the team within the guidance incorporating the ODA feedback. From there, they make the plan to bring back to the ODA.
- Current process is a 5 of 5 on the pain scale.
- The proposed system would be great to have.
- Cpt. Diaz – Assistant S3 (Current Operations)
- Cpt. Diaz clarified for us that the Battle Focus Analysis does not come before the annual budget and training plan. They are integral parts of it.
- Liked the direction of upfront questions to shape the training needs but it is far too simplistic. Ideally, the system would display the various levels of METL guidance and a list of all personnel and their individual training records against that METL guidance. From this view, the team leadership could identify what is due to be hit again, what needs to be hit given the upcoming mission profile, and what the team will ignore b/c there is not time.
- The next step is to try laying that out on the calendar integrating mandatory and requested leave, assigned duties and trainings, and course availability. This forces a second round of compromises and priority juggling.
- His team keeps an Excel spreadsheet laying out the profile of each team member.
- Current system is a 5 for pain.
- His team not only does the annual budget and plan but immediately knocks out all of the MiCons up front. It is A LOT of work but just makes things easier going forward. [This is practice is not widely followed but has significant benefits. If we added the MiCon support, it would confer many of these benefits to all of the teams almost automatically.]
- Maj. Morgan – Company Commander
- Could the system capture training results? (It could but would people use it or view it as a burden?) Depends upon the scope and intention but there are some definite applications for both the ODA and senior leadership worth exploring.
- This system could be powerful both in terms of time savings but also the sophistication it could offer. It could pose risks if over time its guidance is increasingly viewed as doctrine vs suggestions. [Related to the fact that the system would be recommending training activities. Not only the ODAs but the entire organization would need to internalize and maintain an appreciation that the recommendations are not gospel. Note to self: Build specific wording/warning into the system reinforcing this.]
- Who would have to enter this historical information? (Not the ODAs but we have to prove that it is indeed possible to compile the information.)
- Chief Matlock – Assistant Detachment Commander
- He has a nonclassified BFA training deck and sample MiCon he will share with us.
- He charted out the components of the BFA and what they identify.
- Loves the training catalog concept as well as the Amazon ratings. He noted they have some vendors that have ongoing deficiencies and the ratings could help police that.
- He pulled me to the side in the hallway to provide more insights and convey that he sees enormous potential in the system overall.
- Cpt. Barney – Signals ODA commander
- The Signals ODA has some specialized needs. [We need to follow-up with him for a longer discussion of those unique needs.]
- Current process is painful 5 of 5. Sees a lot of opportunity in the tool.
- Sgt. Guzman – Supply Sergeant
- Works on the supply side and was extremely engaged and curious about whether the system could help support equipment needs.
- He notes that some equipment has to be replaced on a regular schedule but the request still usually comes as a one-off, frequently last minute, request. E.g. Climbing ropes. They need to be replaced yearly, even if they have not been used, when a team goes to the climbing course.
- Numerous other items are similar. Recommended also following-up with Reposo and Fontanez on this topic.
- Cpt. Fleming – Company Commander
- Loved the Amazon ratings. He cancelled a training last cycle because he just happened to hear that another ODA went to the same training course and said it was garbage.
- Current process if 5 of 5 on pain scale.
- Echoed the comments on profiling the team against the METL.
- Definitely feels there is meaningful overlap amongst ODAs making both a catalog and recommendation engine feasible.
- SM Croft – Company Sergeant Major
- Likes the Amazon ratings and the idea of course catalog. Commented they just sent two people to Germany for French training b/c the Army schools did not have availability at the right time. Having a list of alternate providers would be great.
- There is absolutely overlap in training profiles which make both the catalog and recommendation engine feasible for real world deployment.
- Maj. Schubert – Battalion XO
- Showed us the training card system used by one of his companies. It is not SOP but it makes it easy to track the results of training events. The current system is paper-based which means you have to consult the physical binders. It would be great if it was electronic.
- Would like to see the battalion develop a practice of centrally ordering a lot of the standardized equipment – e.g. Chem Lights – and keeping an inventory on-hand for the ODAs to draw from. It removes paperwork for the ODAs but also makes the ordering and budgeting easier.
- Wanted to know what the system could do to help the XOs, S4, and RMO. [Laid our the vision of how the system would actually be able to class the colors of money; potentially forecast supplies; track & depict METL; give air officers, ammo officers, and other similar roles heads-up on training events.
- He clarified that since the budgeting cycle happens twice yearly the budget worksheet gets completed each time. That means teams that are in the midst of their training plan are updating the budget to show what has been completed and what they have yet to do.
- Cpt. Batera
- It would be great if the system could also maintain the historical record of the past completed trainings. This would make it easy for the commander to look back and see what METL items had been hit when it comes time to plan the next training cycle. [Note: Make a report/view depicting how many times and given METL has been hit historically and when.]
- When the Cpt rotates out of the command, he would give/appoint his successor access to the ODAs profile to preserve this historical view.
- Current process is 5 of 5 pain. Lots of weekends.
Team 2 Week 4 Blog
This week our beneficiary discovery focused on testing our new prototype, which developed significantly from last week.
Summary of Key Insights and Trends:
- We are on the right track with the MVP
- Negatives: implementation needs to be consistent across group in order for this to work, this could add more time, B track with input from all members of the team would be redundant, need more flexibility in options (perhaps an “other” category)
- Positives: User interface was good, dropdown menus helpful, a one stop tool would improve longevity and organization of records, would give you costs quickly.
- Cpt Stuart-Shore
- Feedback on this week’s prototype: “This would be a really useful tool.”
- His ODA teams created their training plans in a team meeting in which they all sit in front of Excel.
- The base level questions the team asks as they plan for the next deployment:
- What capabilities will be needed?
- What equipment will be needed?
- Who will be on the team?
- Captain Dillon
- The mockup is very user friendly! Push notifications are good and save time (2-3 out of 5. It doesn’t make things worse, but isn’t revolutionary for ODA commanders)
- A huge bonus is that it builds information collection into the system, and will address the problem of longevity
- The best aspect is that you can compare to previous years– you now have a system of record that will last as guys rotate out.
- Perhaps this can then plug into the ATN (Army Training Network) or ATRRS (Army Training Resources and Requirement System)
- Senior Medical Sergeant Steven
- 18-series team members would ABSOLUTELY BE WILLING to do extra paperwork if it helps the next team, and if it can be used to argue for more training.
- Everyone on the team besides the 18A is a subject matter expert, and what they say is the 18A’s best estimate of what is needed.
- (As an 18D) We had such little paperwork that I can’t even remember it. It would be burdensome to now have way more.
- Every discipline has a list of 3-5 things that every team member needs to be able to do without supervision. If we know that everyone has their top-5 things, and everyone performs these 2 standards with no supervision, we’re ready. Example: w/in medical, it’s Airway, IV, tourniquet. Perhaps that can be applied in the record keeping to help better determine the $x = Y readiness equation.
- Chief Greg
- The budget part is easy to use, and gives you your overall costs quickly
- It would be really easy for this to be the first part of the process– the Army would then require you to follow up with a threat assessment
- Dropdowns save lots of time
- SFC William
- Ammunition offers a number of both upfront and backend opportunities for forecasting and trend analysis.
- Forecasting weapons maintenance could be a win for the ODAs.
- Providing the ODAs a course catalog as well as Amazon style ratings could be a win for the ODAs.
- IMO Christian
- Getting any type of software approved for SIPR is an extensive, time intensive process.
- Program will be most useful if done in Microsoft Sharepoint or html, as the military is most familiar with those
- Telephone Control Operator Brian
- If you choose to go through with an app, military does use generic cell phones which they integrate into military software. This would be difficult to get approved, like Christian said.
- ODAs use same hardware on base and in the field
- Former ODA and Company Commander Aaron
- MVP is useful if its integrated at battalion AND group, if the systems don’t talk it becomes extra work
- Thinks that we should add an “other” slot to allow the team to add expenses unique to a particular mission or training event
- Prefers the A track- making the whole team give direct input would be redundant and more work
- Major Ryan – Battalion XO
- While IT/Security will be a concern in the near future, nothing about our current MVP locks us into an architectural direction that cannot be accommodated by the Special Forces IT infrastructure.
- Initially focusing on the ODA experience (Product-Market fit) over the other beneficiaries makes sense from a prioritization standpoint.
Team 2 Week 3 Blog
Our third week consisted of 22 interviews and our site visit to Ft. Bragg.
Summary of Key Insights and Trends:
- Commanders won’t let their units do a mission unprepared, but the process to get teams prepared is far more difficult due to the dearth of budget and resource organization. Teams often have to rely on the “Sergeant Major Mafia” to get the materials they need to get to mission standard readiness.
- The “color of money” is an important component of the resourcing process. Certain buckets of money are only available for certain causes. We are still working to determine how/if this should be incorporated into our MVP.
- There are men who recognize these problems and have created systems to combat them. These people are great resources for us as they have put a lot of thought and work into what we are working on. A lack of time, resources, and help has prevented any of these “pet projects” from coming to life on a standard level.
- Warrant Officer Luke – Assistant Detachment Commander
- Although there are some issues with the current database organization, all the data exists and the problems have workarounds(at his particular team because their job is more linear)
- As long as you can justify that your training matches up with commanders instructions you are usually fine
- Problems occur when someone does not know the system and someone else has to fix it(though usually just involves talking to the person)
- Major Crystal – Battalion XO
- Their group also is quite linear and thus they don’t have a hard time budgeting
- Useful to justify training by mission enhancing and mission critical
- Multitude of different colors of money from which they must allocate money to the correct location
- Lieutenant Colonel Mike
- Making the process more efficient and more effective is important to everyone
- At the outset, saying something like “I’ll know we’ve achieved success when we land from freefall at 25,000 ft at night with all of our equipment, twice” could be the key to effectively measuring self-reported training
- Making a more streamlined training concept process will help keep the focus on the “why” of training
- Colonel Joe – War College Fellow
- Understand the line between your teams all the way through to USASOC. If you have a commander who’s really interested in what you’re doing, it’ll energize the supporting staff
- Understand the flow of money and its time horizon
- For SF to adopt a new system, it has to have a strong value proposition
- Captain Kyle- Assistant S3
- For ODA commanders, the end state is that we’re trying build capability, and whenever the nation needs whatever capability, we can provide it
- If I could type a MET and get best lessons learned from previous teams, having the relevant AARs and their sustains and improves help me design more effective training
- Institutional memory is important to a team, and usually vested in the team warrant officer.
- Captain Tyler- Assistant S3
- Really want to capture info from other team’s AARs– sustains, improves, and finances
- Measuring tools should be a requirement before deployment on training
- We’re most interested in forecasting, so that we can fight when resources are cut by clearly pointing to how funding translates into readiness
- Chief Greg- Assistant Detachment Commander
- Continuity and consistency is vital to the success of the battalion. People come and go, and so having a clear SOP means that commanders can pass knowledge on to the next person
- For teams, the core training of shoot move communicate medicate is the top priority
- Staying in sync with Big Army is important, and SF should leave their systems in place to have continuity
- Captain Phil – Former Group S3
- DOD technology revolves around proprietary systems and microsoft office documents that do not speak to each other. Making a system that puts all kinds of information into one software would be extraordinarily useful.
- Captain Phil was working on a “MICON wizard” which compiled a lot of the information we are also planning to collect. He sent us a presentation on this project which looks like it will be very useful as we decide what kind of information we are looking to collect.
- Phil is working to create an innovation type course at NPS and would like to continue interacting with us to help him develop the curriculum there as well.
- Major Eric – Battalion S3
- Three training events were cancelled last year due to budget constraints.
- Making training cater more closely to individual ODA and deployment needs is important. A lot of training is performed on things that are not necessary, sometimes instead of training that could be more useful.
- Applying after action feedback on readiness and mission stress points would be useful in creating a more salient training plan.
- Aaron – Former Company and ODA Commander
- The way that the military works encourages people to go over budget rather than under, as going under could mean that you don’t get as much money the next time
- Even an additional 4 hours can be very useful to an ODA commander, as that time can go into range training, refresher training, etc.
- Historical records often exist, but don’t provide the level of detail so as to be useful. Each time a MICON is formed, you are essentially starting from scratch if you are not doing the exact same thing as a previous team.
- General Martin
- The training budget is the only thing that the battalion XO can actually change (the rest of the budget is fixed)
- Our tool can be helpful to visualize where to allocate resources in the event of a compromised budget or how readiness will be impacted based on a budget cut
- The XOs capability can be described as a “dial” that can be turned to change the training budget. We should be able to measure the consequences of an x degree turn in that dial.
- Colonel Daniel
- Model for readiness:
- 1. Hard data = certification
- 2. Collective competence– I want to know that my teams have accomplished these tasks at these events = data driven
- 3. Ability for the commander to use gut instinct as a factor = validation
- Major Bill
- We want a document that takes you all the way through the process
- To empower the company level, require training that makes sense, give teams the money they ask for, and then look and see what’s effective.
- Justification needs to be readiness or capability
- Sergeant Major Damon
- We figure out what we need to do to get the resources we need, and get it done, no matter what
- The environment and SOF is constantly changing
- Less is more. It’s easier and cheaper to train at Bragg, and can be forecast more easily.
- Adam Beauregard
- Naval aviation squadrons are allotted a set number of flight hours. As flight hours are the currency of air squadron readiness, this is equivalent to a budget for the squadron.
- Sierra Hotel Aviation Readiness Program – provides a basic level of assistance around planning training. It is minimal, however.
- Readiness is driven by the deployment cycle even more than Special Forces. (Due to the fact that Red Cycle for Special Forces is focused on individual training while Amber is focused on group training.)
- Major McConnell
- During the semi-annual training briefs, the budget is not explored in deep detail. The detail is handled in private conversations with the RMO prior to Battalion and Group briefings.
- ODAs are shielded from the color of money complexity. This is the primary reason they do not get a defined budget number upfront.
- The current influence Special Forces can wield in budget negotiations rides upon the ability of the RMO to make a detailed and compelling case. If the next RMO is not natively equipped to understand and maintain the current spreadsheet system, it could easily fall by the wayside.
- Captain Ko
- Each air squadron that provides us lift support has a different request format and template.
- Coordination of lift support happens at the ODA, Battalion, and Group level.
- Planning air support should begin at least 3 months prior.
- SSgt Ferrer
- Medgroup has not been holding the standard inventory levels recently.
- Med supplies have a standard two week order turnaround.
- The aid station does not have the inventory software system used at Medgroup.
- SFC Harrison
- They had been functioning w/o a medical logistics officer for several months.
- Maintaining inventory in the aid station is time consuming and inefficient.
- Aid station rotations are longer assignments than most other rotations.
- First Sergeant Brian
- Looking at our training and capacity that we want to deploy with, we want to be able to say “The truly critical training events are X,Y,Z” and “You could do X by…” and back it up with data.
- Commander’s job is to look at the calendar, identify potential future deployments, derive what capabilities are required, and then what training is needed
- We have a linear model, but not a linear timeline
- Maj Robey
- The Company Commander will take the individual ODA’s budgets and preview them with the RMO to ensure alignment.
- ODAs do not work from an actual budget number. Group commanders don’t have a budget number either.
- One experiment potentially worth trying is providing each ODA with a budget number upfront.
Hacking for Defense
Our second week beneficiary discovery focused on testing and receiving feedback on our MVP. Below, we list the interviews conducted this week and key takeaways from each.
Summary of Key Trends and Insights
- Battalion and Company level commanders and S4s note that resource allocation efficiency is suffering due to disorganization, and this can be costly to readiness
- The system must be comprehensive enough to replace existing administrative tools, such as the CEW. Otherwise, it will simply add more work and not be accepted by the unit.
- Giving teams the ability to evaluate their training resource is one of the most valuable pain relievers that officers want. We will need to work on our MVP to include more training and mission evaluation categories
Captain Tim – Detachment Commander
- Product would be useful and time saving as long as it isn’t added as a requirement on top other administrative requirements. thing they had to fill out it would be much more helpful.
- A big problem is that they don’t know how much funding their battalion/group has
- When justifying spending decisions he uses a mix of quantitative information and abstract relating back to training readiness.
Sergeant Major Johnny – Company Sergeant Major
- Problem #1: lack of prioritizing is limiting factor to ODAs getting proper resources.
- When they do a mid year plus-up- you must ask for resources at the middle of the year but they don’t get that ammo until the start of the fourth quarter.
- If they give you what you asked for months late and don’t shoot it all you could be punished for that.
Captain Josh – Battalion Logistics Officer
- Problem #1: system must be user friendly so that it can be accessed by people that are not subject matter experts and can handle high rates of turnover.
- As of now, there is no system in place for tallying the final costs of training, but the battalion need this.
- Would like to see an MVP with specifics such as points of contact and a method of organizing budget by date
Captain Erica – Company Commander, previously Battalion S4
- The current equipment resourcing process involves a pool of money periodically being made available for allocation. It is then a 48-hour rush to spend the money. Frequently, the first group to get their prioritized list in wins.
- She confirmed the ODA budget worksheet is very complicated and frequently the formulas get scrambled by the users entering information.
- Transportation and other per diems, military & commercial vendor costs would need to be regularly updated.
CW2 Bob, CW2 Zack – Assistant Detachment Commanders
- A big problem is that when we come up with a concept to go train, from the time it gets briefed and budgeted, it grows a lot of “barnacles” as more units get added. Needs to be adaptable.
- The gap between estimated costs and actual costs won’t be solved if us at the team don’t know it’s a problem.
- A useful tool would be to add 3 columns on the AAR: the budget, the final budget, and the mission essential tasks.
Captain Dillon – US Army
- Do you want your unit to be the Most-Trained Unit or the Best-Trained Unit? Having actual information on the efficiency of training will tell you.
- Making the emphasis of spending record-keeping tied to how much readiness improved, which will move away from using totals of money spent as the yardstick.
- Look at figuring out the cost of time. If you make a soldier stay in the field for an extra length of time, what does that actually cost?
Major Ryan – Battalion Executive Officer
- “When I cycle out, I want the person who replaces me to not have to start over from zero. If we can get a system in place that they can plug into, it’ll go a long way.”
- “Right now, my S4 has to do a lot of digging through old spreadsheets, which costs us a ton of time and prevents us from focusing on analysis.”
- Ideally we want to know how much money gets us how much training.
Captain Rex – Field Artillery, US Army
- Tying money to each task is very useful, and if you could say spending this amount gets you to a certain level, it would be more efficient.
- Objective T incentivizes teams to underestimate their readiness at the beginning and overestimate it at the end
- Ease of use for tracking is the most important aspect
Major Dodger – US Army
- When people come back asking for money, the commanders need to be able to say “show us progress,” (on objective T) and then be able to say “go talk to x,” who did the training for a certain cost.
- There needs to be a standardized way of evaluating in a more centralized way. That’ll be even trickier when it comes to very specialized training that SF teams have to do.