This film, THE POWER OF SUGGESTION (1971) presents the U.S. Army's Suggestion Program. The Suggestion Program was a Vietnam War era program intended to save vital Pentagon dollars, and it still exists today in some form. While some of this film is a bit laughable — showing what appears to be ridiculous levels of government waste — the message remains current.
The opening scenes depict a re-enactment of a film director struggling to record a scene in which a child is supposed to mimic an actress. It was the turn of the century and movies were fairly new (1:57). Scenes had to be shot in sequence as they unfolded. A bystander makes the suggestion to reverse the situation; have the actress mimic the child which spurs the idea of splicing footage (editing) which is now a massive facet of movie making (7:13). The Army's program to encourage suggestions made it easy to do so and ideas were rewarded as the army would then profit from ideas (7:43). The first example of such a suggestion is from an inventory management specialist in the Subsistence Office of the Army Material Command (7:56). She recognized that it was wasteful and expensive to hold a half million pounds of evaportated milk that would only be used in emergency (8:30). Using dehydrated milk in it’s place would be cheaper in the annual Army food plan (9:12). She was rewarded $1688 (10:00) and not only were stocks immediately used up, the Army saved on shipping costs as it was lighter (11:05). Another example comes from a sergeant in the aviation office due to issues with the UH-1H engine (11:14). Engines were severely damaged after starting at too high or too low a battery voltage (11:30). Pilots had difficulty remembering the critical voltage range (11:52) and the sergeant believed a better method would be to use red and green tape (12:02). Red indicated the danger zone and green the operating zone (12:12). This lessened the chance of hot starts and he was awarded $125 (12:23). Although military and civilian personnel were able to submit, only those exceeding the normal requirements of their jobs would be considered for award (13:02). A maintenance foreman at Fort Knox (13:17) after discovering only slightly damaged lockers (nearly 4,000 annually) were discarded, he suggests to send the lockers to the stockades. This would occupy prisoners as well as salvage lockers using only simple tools (14:25). He was awarded $1120 ( 14:47). The Army printers were also to benefit from suggestion (15:09). Thousands of maps were printed yearly using five colors and required three runs to print (15:23). A production controller develops the method to turn them out in two by dropping the fifth color as two of the others inks could create the fifth (16:04). A civilian research biologist and his assistant at Fort Knox (16:35) suggest the use of air cap packing to ship supplies as well as blood and plasma (16:52). The packing would protect against shock and insulate the blood making it possible for air drop without damage (17:21). A major develops the idea to use a plastic coating over soldiers dog tags in order to write and then carry vital information with them (18:58). This eliminated noise and made the tags more comfortable to wear against skin (19:19). This as well as other ideas that would require radical change or army wide, or inter service application would also require review and approval which could take time (20:23). A sergeant with experience in combat communications issues suggests, designs and supervises a more compact office telephone group (21:11) which would have twice the capacity of current equipment. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and equipment was used everywhere by troops. This film is from 1971 (22:48) and was produced by the Audio Visual Branch, Communication &Electronics Division, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
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