The military’s new suggestion box

Army looks to a surprising source of technical expertise—soldiers

 This month the GCN Lab’s own Trudy Walsh interviewed Maj. Keith Parker, who showed us all the gizmos that go with Army Knowledge Online’s (AKO) new Go Mobile Program. He had many interesting things to say about this new initiative, which Trudy will cover in the Dec. 14 issue of GCN.

But one thing the major said really caught my attention. He said that in order to get equipment for the program that performs as well as possible, the AKO took suggestions from soldiers in the field as to what would work best, and—get this—actually acted upon those suggestions.

This struck me as the biggest sign yet that the armed forces are changing, even more than the advanced equipment that Parker was demonstrating. Of course, since field personnel are the ones who have to use the devices, and certainly are the ones who have the most hands-on knowledge of the technology, it makes complete sense to listen to their ideas when implementing a new program. It’s just sometimes the folks in charge, whether in the military or business, don’t realize that.

If this initiative goes as well as it seems to be going, this may usher in a new age of bottom-up planning in the armed forces. Gone will be the days of the “you’re not paid to think,” “shut up and sit down,” and “one size fits all” military mentality that may have been true at one point, but certainly has long pervaded movies and cartoons. I’m pretty sure that this outdated mentality has been slowly fading away from the actual ranks of the armed forces for a while now.

Just don’t tell the guy who draws “Beetle Bailey.”

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

Reader Comments

Thu, Mar 7, 2013

Why is there not. an American homeless recovery action.. going on by the military.. they could honestly give someone shelter in work

Tue, Sep 25, 2012

what if our bunker busters in addition to blowing underground bunkers up in Iran were also loaded with hazardous materials with lets say a half life of 100,000 years or so.In that way we wouldn't just slow em down we would take em out of business for good at least at a given sight

Thu, Jan 5, 2012 Kebras Malachi Germany

I strongly believe that the PT test should be grade by an external tester. reason the army wants to cut back on its numbers and they are so many Soldier unable to past the PT test. not only that but for the really fat Soldier who can't weigh or tape. too many friendship or other words kissing ass goes on so we have no equal opportunity at all.

Sun, Aug 21, 2011 Emory Titus Endicott, NY


Wed, Dec 2, 2009 Jose Vilanova San Bernardino

I've been in the Army for a long time, and I can tell you that there are still a lot of officers who think in the old ways. But the ratio of those with heads up their own asses is changing, and the Army is changing for the better with it. The new breed of officers are more tech savvy, and somehow, it seems to make them smarter as well, more willing to listen to the little guys doing the real humping who know what's really going on. I can see where the Go Mobile program would push this angle. Though I have yet to see any of it yet, I am excited and looking forward to getting to work with it, and the home grown applications written by the grunts. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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