Personnel recovery forces participate in problem-definition workshop

February 21st, 2019
Story By: Jordyn Fetter
facilitator speaking to audience.

AUSTIN, TX– The AFWERX Austin hub, in collaboration with Lean Six Sigma Black Belts from Air Education and Training Command and subject matter experts from Defense Innovation Unit, hosted a problem-definition workshop for military stakeholders in the personnel recovery career field from Feb. 5 to 6, 2019.

The event welcomed 35 participants from the Air Force and Army and centered around defining mission requirements that are currently satisfied by combat survivor evader locator radios.

“Stakeholders from across personnel recovery operations were brought together and we challenged them to focus on the problem that drives the need for new innovative technology,” said Brian Marchitello, lead workshop facilitator and Air Education Training Command’s Master Process Officer. “Before venturing out to find new innovations, we needed to spend time identifying critical pain points that require long-term resolutions, which will ensure effective process redesign and hopefully eliminate negative second and third-order effects.”

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, driven by opportunities to explore new technologies and inspired by the materializations of Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson’s focus on innovation, contacted AFWERX Austin to determine what resources were available to them when defining contracted technologies criterion.

The mission of the Department of Defense personnel recovery operation is to prepare for and execute the recovery and reintegration of isolated personnel and is carried out by members ranging across professions like acquisitions, cybersecurity, recovery forces, and aviation.

To facilitate the request for holding this workshop, Matthew Scott, AFWERX Austin managing director, reached out to Sean Harrington, Chief of AETC’s Innovation Advancement Division and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Harrington committed AETC support by offering Marchitello and himself as facilitators.

While AFLCMC enlisted the participants and defined the workshop purpose, AETC supplied skilled facilitators, DIU contributed expertise in commercial technology, and AFWERX Austin coordinated facilitators, space, and strategy support, all to enable the collaboration of stakeholders across the personnel recovery field and give them the tools necessary to inspire and encourage a streamlined approach to problems.

“DIU ensures access to the world’s most advanced commercial technologies to protect and prepare America’s warfighters,” Richard Barnes, DIU program manager and Air Force combat rescue officer. “We foster greater collaboration between the DoD and the commercial technology sector to field better, faster, more cost-effective solutions while providing an important revenue source to emerging technology companies.”

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants presented an explicit breakdown of the problem at hand to be returned to the lifecycle management center and used in future workshops to further define the problem or to begin developing a solution.

“A common issue within the Air Force is that everyone is working in silos and no one is collaborating,” Scott said. “AFWERX exists to build that essential ecosystem through efforts like the coordination we accomplished for this workshop.”