Together in Testing
Wade C. Harvey - Test Officer, Combat Vehicles Division, Automotive Directorate
Wayne T. Strine - Chief, Combat Vehicles Division, Automotive Directorate
ATC performs hundreds of test activities daily. Soldiers are active test participants, bringing specialized experience to the process.
At Aberdeen Test Center each day, civilians test combat vehicles and related equipment that will ultimately be provided to U.S. Soldiers. Test personnel spend months, sometimes years, thoroughly testing system mobility, weapon performance, reliability, safety, human factors, environmental performance and electromagnetic effects. Combat vehicles are especially complex because they integrate many subsystems - automotive, weapons, electrical, communication, navigation and much more.
ATC has decades of experience testing complex systems in controlled environments, but integrating humans into the mix is much more difficult. ATC testers are highly trained and experienced in the field of combat vehicle operations, and the Soldiers who use the systems have insight that is invaluable to the testing process. For that reason, it is important to include Soldier assessments early in any major test program. The perspective that Soldiers bring to a test can help identify issues with equipment and vehicles that perform well in a controlled environment but may not necessarily do so in the field.
Currently, a group of Soldiers assigned to ATC form an integral part of test teams on a variety of platforms. Occasionally, ATC also hosts Soldiers from all over the world to test alongside us. They experience prototype equipment firsthand and provide valuable feedback to support system evaluations. Just like civilian testers, Soldiers help assess automotive and weapon systems characteristics to provide operational feedback to decision makers. If the Soldiers are involved early enough in the acquisition cycle, their feedback can support critical modifications to system design, tactics and procedures. Those changes improve the suitability, performance and safety of the equipment and vehicles they will one day use in the field. Not only does that benefit Soldiers, but early feedback and improvements can save the Army millions of dollars, as major alterations made late in the process can be extremely costly.
The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) and ATC are proud to have Soldiers both as part of our daily test teams and as visiting participants. Their contributions are invaluable to the entire acquisition process. After all, they are the ultimate customers!