CAMP SMEDLEY BUTLER, OKINAWA, Japan – Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, the III Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general, launched the first Big Ideas Challenge last August to unleash the creativity and ingenuity of III MEF Marines and sailors against the most pressing challenges facing the Marine Corps.
Over 70 submissions were received from Marines and sailors of all ranks and military occupational specialties. Included in those submissions were inputs from Army and Air Force personnel, spouses and even non-SOFA status personnel.
“The submissions surpassed my expectations both in quantity received and in the quality of ideas that were submitted, especially due to the short time window for the challenge,” said Major Stephen Kent, action officer for the Big Ideas Challenge.
Proposals touched on a wide variety of topics, including administration, equipment, logistics, tactics, and quality of life.
“We received ideas for equipment modification, data tools, commercial off-the-shelf applications, education-based solutions and ideas to facilitate the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ vision, to name a few,” said Kent.
The Marine Corps is constantly striving to enhance its force as a whole by implementing innovation challenges throughout the Corps. The 2nd Marine Logistics Group (MLG) and 3rd MLG recently hosted events with notable results.
In those challenges, Marines of all ranks and backgrounds were encouraged to submit. One lance corporal received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for using 3-D printing equipment at the unit to manufacture a $0.50 part to salvage damaged radio equipment.
Good ideas could come from any member of the command, so Lt. Gen. Clardy opened up the challenge to people throughout U.S. Forces Japan. In order to review and study the many submissions, the commanding general assigned an action officer to collect, review, sort, and present all submissions through a review board of Marines.
“My job is to ensure these ideas get routed to the staff and then ultimately the commanding general for final decision,” Kent explained. “We will strive to incorporate all of the good ideas within our means, regardless if they were selected as the top five.”
III MEF plans to announce the results of the challenge at the end of the month via social media. Marines are optimistic about the results.
“Because of the success of this event, we plan to hold it again this time next year,” Kent said. “We are looking forward to seeing some of these ideas get incorporated and are excited to see what kind of solutions our community comes up with in the future.”