The U.S. Army Office of Business Transformation recognized more than a dozen Army agencies May 18 as part of their 2016 Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program during a Pentagon ceremony — including two uniquely innovative U.S. Army Forces Command awardees: the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, and the U.S. Army FORSCOM Headquarters’ Deputy Chief of Staff G-2.
The two Forces Command awardees from Fort Bragg were awarded for outstanding organizational and project-team efforts using Continuous Process Improvement and Lean Six Sigma methods to transform U.S. Army business processes. The FORSCOM military-intelligence and 82nd Airborne aviation winners say their real achievement is enhanced Army readiness and better stewardship from their 2016 projects, as well as critical time-saved to focus on needed work.
“We developed better processes to make our unit more healthy and highly combat effective,” said Army Black Belt champion Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mandee Mintz, 82nd CAB property-book accounting technician.
“Going through the Lean Six Sigma process allowed us to use these improvement tools effectively to enhance our lateral transfer of excess property, and fill critical shortages in supplies and equipment.”
Mintz, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chris Campbell and a five-Soldier team of battalion S-4s with the 82nd Airborne Division unit championed efforts to remove aging equipment, rapidly acquire needed items and use objective business practices to improve their support to the 82nd Abn. Div. CAB.
The aviation brigade project team’s best-business practices are estimated to save the U.S. Army $943,300 over a five-year period, serving as a benchmark for other Army aviation units to adapt for their potential use in managing the logistics of equipment and sustainment of supplies.
The project, “Reduce Internal Lateral Process Time,” streamlined the handing of thousands of helicopter parts, electronic components, tools and machinery.
Mintz credits the brigade’s S-4 project team and the 82nd CAB’s senior leaders with their combined efforts to maintain Command Supply Discipline while achieving the unit’s high operational tempo.
The 82nd Abn. Div. relies on the “Pegasus” Brigade and its nearly 90 Army helicopters — Apaches attack helicopters, Blackhawk utility and medical evacuation aircraft and Chinook cargo aircraft — for protection and support during military operations around the world.
The other award recipient, Timothy Mersereau, from FORSCOM G2, took his green-belt Lean Six Sigma training in Spring 2016 and soon began working with his colleagues on how to “Improve G-2X Performance Reporting.” As the G2X division chief for FORSCOM, Mersereau uses a “dashboard” to track 22 performance indicators — including monthly reporting, budgets and personnel actions.
The team updated their standard operating procedures to make the reporting process more efficient, ultimately reducing the needed worker hours required by 36 per year and reducing process-lead time by 63 percent.
The FORSCOM Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, supports the Army’s largest command with “policy formulation, planning, programming, oversight and representation for counterintelligence, human intelligence and security” — for the Army Corps and Divisions as well as other FORSCOM units within the continental U.S.
The August 2016 initiative by Mersereau and his five-person team ultimately reduced the reporting process time from 39 days to 16 hours, and reduced the error rate from 14 percent to 5 percent; saving an estimated $2,400 as well.
“The biggest take-away from this project was communication and the importance of communicating clearly,” Mersereau said.
“It saves valuable time every month. This was a good learning experience and a great chance for my team as we worked together,” he said. Mersereau’s LEAP award-winning Lean Six Sigma project is one of six FORSCOM G-2 initiated last year, according to FORSCOM G-2 Stephen Perkins.
“Our leadership emphasizes Continuous Process Improvement and Lean Six Sigma as a key part of our organizational culture,” Perkins said. “We help build readiness by eliminating process waste and focusing on improving key activities.”
Perkins’ colleagues agreed.
“Anything we can do that frees up time to allow Soldiers to conduct training is significant for Army readiness,” said FORSCOM G-8’s Steven Sawicki, Master Black Belt specialist with the Business and Readiness Improvement Division.
“If we can help commanders to figure out better solutions and avoid using borrowed military manpower, then that puts Soldiers back in the units to conduct vital training.
“We’re establishing a link with FORSCOM Operations Research/Systems Analysis professionals at Army corps and divisions as well as with FORSCOM Lean Six Sigma capabilities,” Sawicki said.
For example, the 82nd Abn. Div. conducted their Deployment Readiness Exercise in January. About two months before that exercise began, FORSCOM and the 82nd Airborne ORSA and Lean Six Sigma teams began planning. They ultimately had about 12 to 15 people located at sites during the training exercise to collect over 40,000 data points — particularly studying six nodes of exercise activities.
Looking at the Individual Issue of Ammunition, for example, the team recommended how to save three hours of time as part of the 18-hour deployment sequence.
The readiness exercise tested the 82nd Airborne’s outload procedures to refine their systems and processes, rehearsing communications systems, and heavy equipment drop platforms, and evaluating cutting-edge technologies to rapidly send thousands of Army paratroopers anywhere in the world while maintaining mission command capabilities.
“We can free up time and resources in multiple areas,” Sawicki said, “so units can focus on other priorities that Army units and Soldiers need to achieve.”