TANG working group unlocks Sailors’ creativity

(Via Ho’okele News)

Fleet Sailors participate in the Surface Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) working group held May 5 to 8 at Lockwood Hall at joint base.  Photo by Al Crossley

Pete Scala 


Lt. Dave Nobles 
USS Benfold (DDG-65)

The Surface Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) Team brought a wave of creativity to Lockwood Hall at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, assembling 30 young operators in the fleet to develop the future of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) for the surface Navy.

The working group, hosted by Destroyer Squadrons 31 and 15 and facilitated by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, PEO IWS and the innovation design firm IDEO, was held May 5 to 8. It used the tenets of design thinking and the collective intelligence of fleet Sailors to identify and refine new ways to display sonar information and improve processes and prototype systems to enhance the effectiveness of the ASW warfighter.

Participants in the TANG event came from every fleet concentration area in the world, representing seven destroyer squadrons and more than a dozen ships. This group of Sailors, ranging from E-4 to O-3, were hand-selected for their innovative spirit, subject matter expertise and enthusiasm for making the Navy better.

This is the first time that the TANG team has focused on surface ASW combatants with the design thinking process, a structured ideation process that employs an infinite number of notes, markers and display boards to unlock the creativity within participants.

In 2011, the first TANG forum brought a cadre of submariners together from across the Navy for a week to develop new combat systems displays for submarines. The ideas and prototypes that Sailors envisioned then were brought to life within six months of the event, and those designs will be installed in submarines this year.

After several international and executive level events concentrating on submarines, the team hopes to replicate the success for the next generation of surface combat systems.

“The energy from this group has been the best we’ve ever seen,” said Josh Smith, TANG director, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

“These Sailors are developing incredible concepts that are going to solidify the Navy’s place as the premier anti-submarine warfare force for a long time,” Smith noted.

The process allows the opportunity for Sailors to interact directly with not only the technical wizards that craft advance systems, but also experts in the field of design as well as leadership within the program offices who then field the improved sonar software on ships.

The TANG event also included a tech expo that was open to Department of Defense personnel each day. The tech expo showcased advanced new capabilities in the fields of information technology, augmented reality, virtual reality, gaming and more.

Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Aliesha Vaccaro from USS Benfold (DDG 65) in San Diego said the participants have been inspired by the process and are learning ways to brainstorm solutions to the myriad challenges that Sailors face on a daily basis.

“I can’t wait to get back and show my division the tools that I’ve learned out here,” Vaccaro said. “The experience has been amazing. With events like this, I feel like we can solve any problem.”

The Surface TANG concluded May 8. The concepts developed will be coming to a ship near you in the near future.

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