Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. --
The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center hosted a town hall meeting about the state of test and evaluation April 24 at AFOTEC's headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
The town hall panel members included three former Directors of Operational Test and Evaluation and AFOTEC's former chief scientist for a test and evaluation. DOT&E is the principal staff assistant and adviser to the Secretary of Defense on operational and live fire test and evaluation activities involving Department of Defense weapons systems.
"We brought these heavyweights together because of the extreme fiscal times we live in and the need to understand how the test and evaluation community has dealt with such challenges in the past," said Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, AFOTEC Commander.
The T&E town hall meeting gave AFOTEC members at its headquarters and at all of its geographically-separated detachments, via video teleconferencing, an opportunity to hear about the past challenges of test and evaluation as well as what testers face in current and future budget environments.
The T&E town hall panel included:
- Charles E. "Pete" Adolph who served as DOT&E from July through November 1989. Mr. Adolph retired as Director of Test and Evaluation in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Technology) in January 1994 completing more than 30 years of federal service in the field of test and evaluation.
- Thomas P. Christie spent almost 50 years inside DOD acquisition, concluding his career as DOT&E from 2001-2005.
- John "Jack" E. Krings was the first DOT&E, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and served from 1985-1989. He is the president of Krings Corporation and is recognized as a national leader in evaluating defense and aviation systems.
- Dr. Marion L. Williams served as the Chief Scientist and Technical Director at AFOTEC from 1974-2005. He currently serves as an adjunct research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses, which conducts research and provides information to the DOD.
"It is so important for test and evaluation to have a well-planned operational focus and perspective in order to ensure the needs of the warfighter is part of a systems development," said Mr. Adolph.
"In today's test an evaluation environment, it is essential to have integrated planning with a mission focus," said Mr. Christie. "This allows early visibility into the system during all phases of test and evaluation."
"In addition to integrated testing, there has to be attention paid to the implication of the test data," said Dr. Williams. "What impact does test results have short term and long term on a system?"
All of the panel members emphasized that the most effective approach to test and evaluation is early and continuous influence throughout the acquisition process.
According to Mr. Krings, test relevancy also depends upon the quality of the people. "Human capital is essential in the test and evaluation process and having the right training and expertise can make all the difference," he said.
"Testing, done properly from start to finish of a program, will cut the life cycle costs of our weapon systems and free up valuable dollars for other important national ventures," said General Eichhorn. "Our efforts, with the right people doing the right test and evaluation, help American economic security as they ensure national defense."
AFOTEC is a direct reporting unit under Headquarters, United States Air Force. It is the Air Force independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new warfighting capabilities developed for Air Force and often Joint and coalition use.