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News | Nov. 10, 2020

U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground employees travel around the world to share their expertise

By Ana Henderson U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground

If you ask Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) Commander Col. Patrick McFall about the workforce he will tell you that people are YPG’s “core capability.”

YPG’s workforce has world-renowned subject matter experts (SME) with decades of experience in radars, weapons operations, non-destructive testing, indirect firing, and other areas. This fact makes the workforce the go-to crew. 

“There are many requests from other locations. The requests have a common theme of always revolving around the expertise of our workforce and not necessarily specific equipment,” explains Lt. Col. Alicia Johnson Yuma Test Center (YTC) Commander. 

YPG, which houses YTC, has thousands of visitors per year, yet not everyone who requires YTC’s expertise visits the installation.  Almost weekly, YTC SMEs travel the world to fulfil a need. These trips are called safari operations. 

“Whether it be semi-local like the Chocolate Mountains, a sister test range in a different state, or far away foreign nations,  YTC employees are always on the go” says Johnson, adding, “From Eastern European locations including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, all the way to the Middle-Eastern countries of Tunisia and Jordan.  We even safari to places in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim like Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines.”

Earlier this year the Munitions and Weapons (M&W) Division sent a team of 18 to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to assist with a firing program. The team consisted of a test officer, a gun crew, and personnel from electronics, optics and instrumentation among others.  
 “The most effective way of supporting something like this is just bringing in the personnel who know how to operate the systems,” says Steve Flores, M&W Artillery Branch Chief.  

During these operations it’s not only the SMEs traveling, YTC also provides equipment when needed.  For the trip to White Sands M&W sent five howitzers, which included a test bed and platform plus the data collection instrumentation…in all it required eight trucks, “We loaded the trucks on a Thursday and headed to White Sands and our people left Sunday so they can be there on Monday and off-load the trucks” says Flores. 

New Mexico is relatively close compared to other locations, which means sometimes the equipment is shipped by different methods. 
 “We move equipment by sea, land, and air.  Barges, trucks, rail, and airplanes move our equipment from point to point when necessary,” explains Johnson.  

The stay for the teams and equipment can be anywhere from days to weeks. “They are expected to do some of the same tasks they do here but it’s a different environment, a different schedule, a different tempo,” explains Flores.  

YPG is one of eight test centers under the Army Test and Evaluation Command. Each installation has a distinct mission yet they are ultimately have the same overall goal. “YTC is charged to help other test centers for the greater good of the Army.  While there may occasionally be a dust up as to which test centers is authorized to conduct a specific test, in the end, we are all Americans wanting to assist the Warfighter.  If we can help a Soldier, Sailor, or Airman by traveling to a different location to test a system allowing the system to get in the Warfighter’s hands sooner, we are more than happy to assist.“ 

Flores adds, “It’s a concerted effort to execute an event like this. It show how committed we are to supporting test programs and events and that ATEC as a whole can provide all test service.”