☷Outgoing Yuma Test Center commander reflects on three years in command
U.S. Army ( By Press Release office)
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U . S . Army Yuma Test Center Commander Lt . Col . Alicia Johnson speaks at the annual Camp Bouse Memorial Ceremony in Bouse , Arizona on February 8 , 2020 . Johnson will relinquish command on May 26 , 2022 . From testing equipment for the Army’s future fight to coping with a worldwide pandemic , Yuma Test Center ( YTC ) Commander Lt . Col . Alicia Johnson served in impactful times . Among other things , during her tenure the test center hosted Project Convergence ( PC ) 2020 and 2021 , the Army’s largest capabilities demonstration in 15 years . “For me , it was like the blink of an eye , ” she said . “It was a fast - moving train and an amazing experience . ” The test center was also the busiest in the Army testing virtually every piece of equipment in the ground combat arsenal . YTC hosted the first major Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team test with a demonstration of the SPIKE air - to - surface missile in September 2019 and a 70 kilometer test fire of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery in December 2019 . Before the pandemic struck , in early 2020 YTC personnel supported the YPG 2020 open house that drew over 23 , 000 people , the largest public event in YPG history . “To say we are busy is an understatement , but , more importantly , we are relevant , ” Johnson said . “Yuma Test Center has been the tip of the spear of Army modernization for years and has done a remarkable job . ” Johnson credits the expertise and experience of the YTC workforce with meeting these heavy demands . “I am amazed by the professionalism and resiliency that this workforce has displayed over the last three years , ” she said . “I can’t emphasize enough how impressive this workforce is . ” When COVID struck , Johnson and YTC’s civilian directors faced the challenge of keeping the Army’s vital test mission running . Testers sent live video and data feeds back to personnel on the East Coast who were prevented from participating in person as a result of Department of Defense travel restrictions , and YTC personnel unable to maintain six feet of separation were required to wear cloth face coverings at all times . As the number of COVID cases in Yuma County rose dramatically , YTC personnel developed COVID safety protocols to ensure the Army Futures Command’s PC 20 capstone testing proceeded as planned in a safe manner . Johnson had no doubt that the YTC workforce would meet the challenge successfully . “They selected us to host Project Convergence for a reason . They chose Yuma Test Center for its technical expertise and understanding , and our terrain . ” Johnson praises the YTC workforce for accepting the safety measures necessary to continue the mission . To protect both YPG’s resident workforce and the hundreds of visiting personnel during PC 20 , a key safety concept was keeping those directly supporting Project Convergence in so - called ‘bubbles’ that were separate from each other . Visitors working on Project Convergence remained in several remote locations around YPG’s vast ranges during duty hours , and were asked to restrict their off - duty activities to only essentials like grocery shopping or purchasing gasoline “The workforce understanding and buying in to the protective measures was critical to our success , ” Johnson said . “A ‘bubble’ is only effective with the cooperation of everyone in it . ” Johnson believes that YTC’s can - do culture made the workforce resilient throughout the challenging COVID environment , as well as the normal daily operations at the Army’s busiest test center . “I believe in our mission of protecting the men and women who protect and defend our country . When you look at the developmental test mission , it takes the initiative and expertise of so many people to accomplish . We have embraced the team concept and understand how to collectively link our time and talents to make the team better . ” As she prepares to relinquish command on May 26 , she is grateful for her time leading YTC . “My team has made me a better person and a better officer . They have invested in me as I have invested in them . ” As for advice to her successors , she offers the following: “Invest in relationships and people . When I say invest in people , it isn’t just money: it is understanding people’s desires about what they want to do in their lives and how you can help them achieve their dreams . ”
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