MILITARY MATTERS: Soldiers pitch innovative ideas to better streamline administrative process at Ft. Benning

Updated: Feb. 17, 2021 at 11:05 PM EST
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - A new annual competition just finished on Fort Benning, but it did not involve any athletic skills.

The Army installation asked for innovative tech ideas from its soldiers and civilians, ideas to make processes on post easier for them in the future.

Modeled after ABC reality show “Shark Tank,” soldiers on Fort Benning faced some sharks of their own for a contest on the army installation called the Maneuver Innovation Challenge.

Fort Benning’s commanding general was one of the judges for more than 20 innovative ideas submitted on how to better streamline administrative processes for military and their families. It came down to four finalists.

“Today we have the opportunity to transition overseas with new technology, new software,” Capt. Michael York said at the podium with the ‘sharks’ alongside his partner. “Why not in-process with it too?” Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe responded, “If this proposal to move into the information age doesn’t save time or personnel, why do it?”

Donahoe was tough on the contestants but liked their ideas and cracked some jokes too. “We’d miss out on going to an obscure office on the installation just to hand in our orders, then do that again a few years later. Throughout the history of the U.S. Army, some of the best ideas don’t come from general officers,” Donahoe added.

Another finalist, Capt. Mitchell Myers also presented his idea. “Fort Benning should look into the interpretation of current policy for wait list for on-post housing,” Mitchell said.

“How do we get these ideas from that soldier or civilian employee to a point where we can actually change what we do?” Donahoe asked.

Also making the cut in this competition was Maj. Lindsey Snyder of 101st Airborne Division.

“What we proposed today is an in-processing app which can be downloaded onto your phone for soldiers and permanent party members, which will not only give them directions, but also a personalized checklist based upon soldier input data,” Snyder said.

“If you don’t show how you can tie into as a complimentary effort to the digital Garrison app, you’re going to go like the DoDo bird,” one judge told Synder and the team.

“One of the longest lead times we have is when someone else designs an app and sends it to Benning,” another judge added. But he called the app an easy win for Fort Benning.

All four ideas will now be developed, with the help of partners Georgia Tech, after these innovators survived the “shark tank.” That includes Ltc. Chris Fowler of 2nd Battalion 29th Infantry.

“I’m going to give a pitch on how to improve the accountability of IAT soldiers during holiday block leave,” Fowler said. “We got some junior sergeants out there, junior folks, who have incredibly rich ideas than can make our organization better.”

Donahoe said those who made the final cut win a four-day pass and also the training course of their choice on post.

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