Naval Reserve moves forward with idea of ​​a reservist mobile app to help deploy forces faster

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Navy Reserve Lt. Cdr. Jonathan Calhoun, center, holds the i3 Waypoints trophy after Vice Admiral John Mustin, standing behind him, announced Calhoun’s “Laving Mobile Technology to Streamline Mobilization” as the winner of the first i3 Waypoints, a new invention competition that enables reservists of all ranks to pitch ideas to top brass. Calhoun is surrounded by the other final presenters, panel of finalists and production staff. (Elisandro T. Diaz/US Navy)

WASHINGTON – Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Calhoun said he was buried in paperwork for a mass mobilization exercise when he came up with the idea for a cellphone app that could streamline the process.

“It was very intense on the administrative side, filling in forms from scratch, many of which were very redundant in nature and it was the same information – name, address, date of birth, etc. – on every form,” said he declared. said of the training exercise held earlier this year. “[They] must also be completed on a military computer or on a personal laptop that [is] The CAC card is activated, which makes it very difficult for reservists who are not on a basic installation on a daily basis. »

Calhoun, who is assigned to the US Fleet Forces Command’s Maritime Operations Center in Norfolk, Va., said he thinks moving many of the required forms to a secure mobile platform would make the process faster and more efficient. . He submitted his idea to the inaugural Naval Reserve i3 Waypoints program, a new invention competition that allows reservists of all ranks to pitch their ideas to the top brass.

Calhoun’s idea placed first in the competition, winning a trophy and the opportunity to “work with our technology leaders to make his idea a reality,” said reserve spokeswoman Captain Colette Murphy.

Mobilizing a Naval Reserve unit requires a lot of paperwork i3 Waypoints made even more difficult because reservists can only access the necessary documents from a computer equipped with a common access card reader, the military ID card that allows access to secure websites.

While some, including Calhoun, have CAC drives on their home computers, many do not, requiring them to travel to a military installation to access them, he said.

“I don’t think we can expect every i3 Waypoints, especially every i3 Waypoints junior sailor, to have [a personal CAC reader]said Calhoun. “I know that during the mobilization exercise, a number of unit members who are assigned to our naval reserve [unit] had to come in and sit down with someone to fill out a lot of forms because they weren’t able to do it from their own personal devices.

Not only will the envisioned encrypted app allow reservists to securely complete necessary mobilization documents from a personal mobile device, but it will also use artificial intelligence to automatically populate duplicate data fields, such as names and other basic information, across multiple documents, he said.

The app, which has yet to be named, “will also provide real-time transparency and status of members and leaders throughout the process, and enable clear and customizable reviews and reports.” , Murphy said.

Vice Admiral John Mustin, head of the Naval Reserve, said the service “is already working out the design” of Calhoun’s idea, which he says will speed up the mobilization process and bring reservists where they are needed faster.

“[Calhoun’s] The idea of ​​adding mobile technology to our distributed activation process helps us achieve our goal of mobilizing the entire selected reserve force of 50,000 in 30 days, if needed,” Mustin said in a statement. .

The i3 Waypoint competition will now be an annual event, which Mustin introduced to “accelerate transformative ideas from across the Navy directly to the highest levels of the Naval Reserve, without filters or bureaucratic barriers,” Murphy said.

The competition takes its name from the three “I” approaches reservists can take to create a concept: invent something entirely new; improve something that is already established; or integrate multiple ideas, products, or processes into one system. This year, more than 100 ideas were submitted.

Calhoun said the competition made him think a lot about Navy leadership for hosting an event “to really get some ideas” from reservists.

“When you’re in the trenches on a daily basis, you have these ideas, but implementation is very difficult on a small scale,” he said. “Being able to have that platform to really engage directly with Navy leaders who are soliciting ideas… [and then they] say: “Yes, not only do we agree with this, but we are ready to spend time and money, the effort necessary to carry out” [is exciting.]”

The Naval Reserve has the advantage of having service members in civilian jobs where they often develop outside expertise in technology, cybersecurity, engineering, human resources, finance and more, Murphy said. The new competition harnesses these strengths to produce important ideas for improving service.

For example, Calhoun mentioned his idea to a technology company during his civilian career as a senior relationship manager with Bank of America for aerospace, defense and government contracting clients. Technology representatives said they were already developing a similar concept and presented it to the Pentagon.

“Their specialty is being able to develop a secure, encrypted mobile application that would allow military users to complete many types of administrative documents, not on a military computer but from their own secure mobile device,” Calhoun said. “Especially with junior sailors who have grown up with a cell phone on them 24/7, this is definitely the easiest and most efficient way to contact everyone, as well as to carry out a much of the exchange of information.”

Other finalists in the competition included Lt. Brian Adornato of Naval Sea Systems Command’s Surge Maintenance Sacramento; Cmdt. Bobby Hsu, Director of Naval Operations Staff; Cmdt. Scott Mericle of Naval Reserve Operations, Plans and Policy for the Navy’s 2nd Fleet; and Cmdr. Sarah McGann of Navy Personnel Command and Lt. Josh Didawick of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education.

Although there is a winner, the concepts of the four finalists could also be implemented.

Adornato’s idea was to create a new category of civilian technician personnel. Hsu suggested creating an official Naval Reserve YouTube channel. Mericle’s concept was “to improve [the] active-reserve transition. McGann and Didawick’s idea was to create a “new policy for education in Reserve retirement across the career continuum.”

Videos of all finalist presentations are available at https://www.navyreserve.navy.mil/Resources/I3-Waypoints/.

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