New leader assumes command of future-ready Army Proving Ground
July 10, 2013
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- Under a bright morning sun, after an evening monsoon, command changed for the Fort Huachuca-headquartered, U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground during a ceremony at the historic Brown Parade Field, here July 9.
Presiding over the ceremony from outgoing Commander Col. Ronald Jacobs Jr., to the incoming commander, Col. Raymond K. Compton, was the Maj. Gen. Genaro J. Dellarocco, commanding general for the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command.
"We had a vision to be the recognized and preferred test center across the Army, the DOD (Department of Defense), as well as the industrial base for C5ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems)," said Jacobs during the ceremony. "And I must say, we did it. We accomplished our mission."
Accomplishing the mission to be "the preferred and recognized test center" was no small task.
When Jacobs assumed command of USAEPG, the organization looked and behaved very differently than it does today. USAEPG's customer base continued to grow as it tested for the Army and other federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, National Security Agency and the various members of defense industry.
Jacobs said he had to change the organization to be agile and responsive to the emerging needs of test and evaluation.
"We put a focus on the capabilities for the future that we wanted to target," Jacobs said. "We kept moving forward, supporting our customers, providing value, improving our customer relationships."
To make these changes, Jacobs worked with USAEPG's Technical Director Mark D'Amato, along with the USAEPG staff. The team focused on the future, the customer and the needs of the customer.
Jacobs said that he knew this would require a change of culture in the organization, while maintaining USAEPG's reputation for integrity in the testing process.
"There are three things you have to tackle: the attitudes, the perceptions and the behaviors," he said describing how they changed the culture.
In addition to changing the culture, Jacobs adopted a vision and a strategic plan that guided the organization over the three years of his tenure. He explained that the plan needed to be organized and focused, clearly stating an objective and its associated tasks.
Periodically thereafter, the USAEPG team would review the plan to ensure that it met the needs of the organization and customers.
Jacobs said he was well-prepared to lead USAEPG, whose workforce was primarily composed of Department of the Army civilians and contractors, working alongside soldiers.
His past assignments as the military deputy for the Communications-Electronics Command's Software Engineering Center, as the product manager for Network Operations-Current Force and others had similar workforce mixtures.
He said he found his command philosophy of providing the right tools and eliminating obstacles empowered the workforce and enabled mission success.
During his tenure, he said his most significant challenge for the organization was a general lack of awareness of the capabilities, facilities and expertise USAEPG offers to the test and evaluation community.
"Our goal was to get the word out to the community, and let them know our capabilities and assist them in their test," he said. "We only focused on test - we only focused on our core competencies."
Looking to the future, Jacobs developed a new test paradigm that introduced the concept of integrated test teams and system readiness level. This new test paradigm promises keep test and evaluation costs lower by maintaining continuity and system knowledge through the various test phases. It also could offer evaluators a more objective appraisal of a system's readiness prior to deployment, he said.
As Jacobs addressed the crowd at the change of command ceremony, he took the time to thank dozens of the USAEPG workforce by name and recount the successes of the organization as a result of their efforts. Jacobs will assume his new position as the military deputy to Jill Smith, director, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in mid-August.
He thanked his wife, retired Lt. Col. Sharon L. Jacobs, and his daughter Joycelyn for their support and promised them that, "I am coming home."
The ceremony attendees greeted Compton, the incoming commander with applause. Compton a long-time Army signal officer and Fort Huachuca returnee recently completed a tour as the G-3/5/7 of Research, Development and Engineering Command at APG. In the audience was Compton's family: his wife, Elke, and his two daughters, Jessica and Christina.
"I'm especially humbled to have the privilege to command a great group of professionals," Compton said addressing the audience. "Over these next years, with the great efforts from you - the soldiers, civilians, and support contractors of the Electronic Proving Ground family - it is with your strength that we will continue to make us Army Strong."