The three-star head of installations and logistics for the Marine Corps is calling on rank-and-file troops to come up with the next system or piece of gear to make Marines’ work easier and more effective.
In a tongue-in-cheek video to be released later today, Lt. Gen. Michael Dana calls on sailors and Marines to submit creative ideas in two categories.
A “maker” challenge asks troops what they would build to make their unit more ready and improve logistics. They have less than one month, but unlimited resources to build the hypothetical piece of gear, said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Philip Kulczewski.
A Marine Corps administrative message published today suggests that these inventions can range from new and better rifle scopes to radios or vehicles.
The “wearables” challenges asked troops to come up with a new use for existing wearable technologies, from smart watches and body sensors to virtual reality glasses. The goal: to improve logistics processes and gain battlefield advantage.
The video shows Dana inviting troops to join the challenge as he army-crawls through a creek carrying a rifle, and talking through a mouthguard as he suits up to face off against another Marine with pugil sticks.
“I challenge you to visit our website,” he says, as he ascends a rope mounted on a wooden beam. “Give us an idea to may the Marine Corps better.”
Another scene shows Dana on a march with other Marines, carrying his rifle and a loaded pack. “Man, these packs are heavy,” he says. “We need to find a way to reduce the load on the Marines.”
The challenge officially begins today, Kulczewski said. Applicants have until July 15 to submit their ideas, and winners in each category will be notified Aug. 1.
The winning Marines and sailors will be partnered with a government lab, such as National Defense University’s National Security Technology Accelerator Program and the Army Research Lab, which have both agreed to participate in this initiative, to create a prototype of their idea for potential development for the Marine Corps.
Winners will be recognized on official Marine Corps social media channels. They may also be eligible for a special five-day innovation “boot camp” hosted by the Marine Corps to further hone their problem solving and entrepreneurial skills.
“The age of innovation is here,” Dana says. “Think ahead. Think unconventionally. Challenge the status quo.”
This challenge is the latest in a series of Marine Corps efforts this year to spur innovation and creative thinking about old problems.
In a fragmentary order released in January, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller called for more innovation and experimentation
“This ‘disruptive’ mindset must be pursued and fostered when found, or it will not sustain itself within our bureaucracy,” he wrote in the document. “We need creative leaders who think!”
Neller spearheaded a two-day innovation symposium at Quantico, Virginia in March that included “Shark Tank”-style pitches from troops about their ideas to make the Marine Corps better. Seventeen hand-picked Marines also participated in a seminar in February with popular science fiction authors to game out what the world and war-fighting might look like in 30 years.
This year, the Marine Corps has also designated an infantry battalion — 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines — to serve as an experimental unit for the service and test out new systems and technologies.
Marines and sailors can enter the new innovation contest here.