TROPIC REGIONS TEST CENTER-- Maj. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, commanding general of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), spent nearly three full days in Panama late last month visiting U.S. Army Tropic Regions Test Center (TRTC) activities.

Karbler's visit to TRTC operations in Panama was the first by an ATEC commander in more than a decade. He was accompanied by Capt. Joseph Fornasier and escorted by YPG commander Col. Randy Murray, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Prosser and TRTC director Ernest Hugh.

"It's been a productive visit for the whole team," said Murray. "It's Major General Karbler's first opportunity to come to TRTC and see first hand the kinds of testing we do and the facilities available to conduct it. This is a great team with very professional people. "

Karbler paid particular interest to a current test of the Stryker Combat Vehicle, having lunch with the crew, many of whom are stationed in Yuma, and riding on the challenging jungle test course saturated with mud and jungle biomass. Karbler thanked the team for their professionalism and hard work, and wished those from Yuma safe travels when they returned home.

"It's not often a commanding general sets aside time in a busy schedule to visit us," said Julio Zambrano, TRTC test officer. "We appreciate it."

Karbler also paid visits to facilities hosting long-term storage tests of equipment and was extensively briefed about recently concluded tests projects. Most of these briefings were at the sites themselves, and were not passive affairs: among other places, Karbler trekked through TRTC's rigorous manpack course, a steep, muddy jungle trail suffused with thorny vines, in a driving tropical rain storm.

"It's uplifting to have a visit from the CG," said Hugh. "The workforce did a tremendous job briefing him and showing him around. You could see the pride as they did their presentations and explained tests they have performed."

Unlike the other two test centers over which YPG manages, TRTC owns no land and conducts operations in foreign countries, with Panama being a primary location. Personal diplomacy and TRTC's long track record in Central and South America go a long way in garnering support for test projects, and this facet of TRTC's efforts was palpable during friendly visits with high ranking officers in Panama's Office of Defense Cooperation and the Panamanian Public Forces.

"The breadth of things we do in terms of testing and relationships that we've built with different elements of the Panamanian government are very positive," said Karbler. "The regard Panamanian officials have for our ATEC teammates is great."

All involved thought the visit was highly successful.

"It appears to me that he left with a good impression of what is available at TRTC, as well as some of the things we could do more of, given our equipment and capabilities," said Hugh. "Panama offers a deeper, less benign tropical environment than Hawaii or most other places."

"The briefings and pictures don't do justice to being in the humidity, in the sun, in a hot tropic environment," said Karbler. "Being able to walk around in this aspect of the unforgiving crucible of ground combat that TRTC presents to us is incredible."