DOD Test, Evaluation Director offers insight into future of testing

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The Honorable Robert Behler, Operational Test and Evaluation Director, Office of the Secretary of Defense, talks to Test and Evaluation professionals during the International Test and Evaluation Association’s quarterly luncheon at Club Muroc on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., June 26, 2019. (Air Force photograph by Giancarlo Casem)

The Antelope Valley Chapter of the International Test and Evaluation Association held their quarterly luncheon at Club Muroc on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., June 26.

The event’s keynote speaker was the Honorable Robert Behler, Director Operational Test and Evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Behler spoke about his experiences in the Test and Evaluation field and also its importance in the Defense Acquisition process.

“Every day in the Pentagon I have to keep on telling people how important testing is for weapons systems acquisition, it’s not an academic thing; we don’t do it because we’re trying to discover new laws of physics,” Behler said. “We do it because we want to make sure that we’re giving our men and women in our military the best weapons that we can, and they are combat credible, and they are lethal.”

The ITEA is made up of professionals in the Test and Evaluation field and the luncheon helps them to communicate with each other and share best practices across the board in a variety of technical backgrounds. The overall goal of the ITEA is to improve the test and evaluation community to further advance their industry. The group has raised and given out more than $200,000 in grants to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs in the past 10 years.

One of Behler’s topics of discussion is his vision forward and how to integrate testing earlier and more prominent in the Acquisition process.

“I want testers to be involved with the program at the very beginning. I need to do it in an integrated way with DT (Developmental Testing) and OT (Operational Testing) together,” he said. “The way I’m looking at it is this, is if we can shift our testing towards the beginning of the program, we’ll be able to get back to where we were when we were putting out Century series airplanes.”

Behler alluded to the era of aircraft testing during the 1950s and 1960s that developed platforms such as the F-100 Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo and F-102 Delta Dagger. These airplanes became legendary due to how they advanced performance and avionics in what he Behler described as “the center of universe for flight testing.”

After he described his vision of the future of testing in the worlds of cyberwarfare and artificial intelligence, Behler explained his three imperatives in combat and reminded those in attendance of the importance of their role in supporting the Warfighter.

“First, you have to believe in yourself and your training, there’s no doubt about that. Second, you have to believe in your commanders and their orders,” he said. “Third, you have to believe in the weapons that you are using, and that’s my job and that’s your job, to make sure those weapons are ready for that individual to take in to combat, never forget that.”