Perspective

Improving Readiness, Serving Communities

March 11, 2020

LMI Staff

Healthcare services for more than 9,000 people in Puerto Rico. The expansion of an airport runway to bolster infrastructure and economic growth in a remote Alaskan community. A deep-sea salvage operation to remove fishing nets and restore sea life habitats near San Juan Island, Washington. About the only commonality among these activities is who conducted them—the U.S. military.

For nearly 30 years, the Department of Defense (DoD) Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) program has brought U.S. service members (active duty, reserve, and National Guard) into communities for valuable military training experience and public service.

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Camp Carter IRT

Many IRT construction missions are dedicated to improving local infrastructure like roads and bridges.

— Vice President Mike Pence

In August 2019, at the launch of an IRT healthcare mission in Manchester, Kentucky, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the program “is benefitting our military, making us more prepared when the men and women […] in uniform deploy, but it’s also making a difference in the lives of the people of Eastern Kentucky and, frankly, people all across this country.”

Twenty-two missions are planned for 2020, ranging from multiyear construction projects to weeklong medical clinics, along with opportunities for specialists like pilots, deep-sea divers, and cybersecurity professionals to hone their expertise. Although you won’t find LMI in Kentucky, Alaska, or Puerto Rico, its support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), which administers the IRT program, has been integral to the program’s national presence and success.

“We are really passionate about this client and their mission,” said project manager Lisa Watts, an original member of LMI’s IRT support team. “It has been rewarding to see our responsibilities increase as the program has grown.”

Setting a Tone

Lisa was introduced to IRT in 2016, tasked with organizing a workshop for 120 individuals from the DoD components that would perform IRT missions. She enlisted the help of consultant Kalen Bauman to create what has become the flagship training event for IRT program managers. From there, LMI’s support has broadened to strategic planning, program administration, external communications, stakeholder engagement, and much more. 

“Kalen and I worked our tails off,” Watts said of the 2016 workshop. “Even then, I think it set a tone that we wanted to demonstrate the difference that LMI could make.”  

As a trusted partner in fiscal management and policy support, LMI has strengthened coordination between OSD and the program managers who bear responsibility on the ground. LMI is also helping OSD obtain approval for two DoD Instructions (DoDIs) that outline its management and oversight role in IRT missions. “To have the program supported by DoDIs will improve accountability and resource management for years to come,” Watts said. “We were grateful to be a part of this process and help the client articulate their vision.”

The Navy Reserve will lead a vertical construction mission in 2020 to build homes for the people of the Navajo Nation.

“It’s blossomed into a lot more”

Each IRT mission accumulates extensive documentation over its lifespan—from the initial application for assistance to the after-action report. One milestone last year was the introduction of a ServiceNow-based solution to streamline the application and data management processes. Moving to digital workflows has permitted IRT staff to dedicate more time for outreach to DoD and community stakeholders.

“We saw an opportunity to show the customer what ServiceNow can do and it’s blossomed into a lot more,” said Bauman, who managed the implementation. “The customer can focus on other priorities and raise awareness of IRT’s valuable training and community service benefits.”

Extracting data from digital copies of paper records to create an online archive was another key piece of the digital transformation. “They have a comprehensive history of the program, and it’s searchable,” Bauman said. “How many missions have been performed in California? How many served Native American communities? How many mission hours did each military service log last year? Leaders have more data at their fingertips to inform decision-making and illustrate the program’s impact.”

LMI, which received a five-year contract in fall 2019, is prepared to help OSD and the military services scale IRT’s success.

“IRT’s value proposition is that you’re able to provide more training per dollar than if you had to host training operations for so many disparate skill sets,” said Pat Mahoney, director of LMI’s OSD market. “With IRT, the military services can train more people while serving communities that need those highly specialized skills. It’s a real win-win.”

IRT has conducted multiple medical missions to Kauai, Hawaii, over the years. 

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