By Ms. Sandra Gibson (ATEC)November 3, 2017
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (October 24, 2017) -- The Army's analyst community came together to induct one of their own into the Operations Research and Systems Analyst, or ORSA, Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony hosted by the Army Operations Research Symposium, or AORS, at the Maryland Golf and Country Club in Bel Air Oct. 24.
James C. Cooke, member of the Senior Executive Service, or SES, and executive director of the U.S. Army Evaluation Center, or AEC, part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, or ATEC, became the latest to join the impressive lineup of distinguished Army operations research and systems analysts inducted into the elite group over the years.
The ORSA Hall of Fame was chartered in March 2004 by Walter W. Hollis, the former Deputy Undersecretary of the Army for Operations Research, or DUSA-OR, who is best known as the 'Grandfather of Test and Evaluation'. Hollis created the Hall of Fame to honor noteworthy contributions made to Army-wide operations research and systems analysis by individuals whose transformational and outstanding personal leadership inspired and motivated others in the field.
Cooke was nominated in 2016 by fellow SES member and ATEC's executive technical director, Robert Miele.
"I have known and admired Jim for many years from his time in OSD and then from his days at DUSA-OR and now in his current position as the director of AEC," Miele said. "Jim always asks the hard penetrating questions and challenges assumptions which are great attributes of an ORSA, so it was easy to nominate him."
Miele shared that Cooke's nomination was unanimous by the AORS' Board of Directors who govern the ORSA Hall of Fame and meet each year to vote on nominees. AORS inducts up to two new members each year during its annual banquet and induction ceremony. This year, Cooke was the only inductee into the 2017 ORSA Hall of Fame.
Miele was present to witness the AEC technical director, Deirdre Sumpter, formally induct her boss and his colleague into the Hall of Fame.
"Mr. Cooke is an exceptional and brilliant visionary and I was honored and delighted to be the one to induct him into the ORSA Hall of Fame," Sumpter said.
In addition to his wife, Lynnette, three of Cooke's four sons, Army Capt. Dan Cooke, Army Maj. Mike Cooke and his wife Kristy, and Matthew Cooke and his wife Salina, attended the ceremony honoring their father.
Senior leaders from ATEC, AEC and the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, or OTC, turned out to pay tributes to Cooke at his induction ceremony. In attendance were Maj. Gen. John W. Charlton, ATEC commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew B. Connette, ATEC command sergeant major; Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Espinosa Jr., AEC sergeant major; Col. Mark Schmitt, AEC military deputy; and Brig. Gen. John C. Ulrich, OTC commanding general.
"I was honored to be present to watch Jim get recognized by his peers for achievements worthy of induction into the prestigious ORSA Hall of Fame," Miele said.
Cooke is a West Point graduate who spent nearly 25 years in the military as an airborne and ranger-qualified infantry officer. He became the AEC executive director in 2015 after serving six years as Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of the Army for Test and Evaluation at the Pentagon.
As AEC executive director, Cooke is responsible for the synchronization, integration and coordination of the evaluations of joint weapon systems where the Army is the DOD executive agent, and all Army systems. He manages an annual budget of over $100 million in evaluation resources spread across four states and a workforce of over 500 military, civilian, and defense contractor personnel.
Central to his leadership is his commitment to providing Army senior leaders with timely and insightful advice on which prospective acquisitions will or will not perform when issued to units and the holistic associated costs to the Army. Through his visionary leadership and hands-on guidance, AEC's seven evaluation directorates provide DOD senior leaders and members of Congress with the most accurate and unbiased technical and tactical information to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the effectiveness, suitability, survivability, and safety of military equipment.
"While Jim has served for many years both active duty and as an Army civilian, he has always been on the leading edge in the analytical community helping modernize the Army in preparation for future capabilities to meet the needs of the Soldiers," Miele said.
Cooke has shown his commitment to training junior leaders and creating an engaged workforce through his investment in his employees' development. He developed numerous in-house training programs and helped support and create developmental opportunities through the use of the strategic partnerships he forged across the Department of the Army, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Aberdeen Proving Ground community.
"I have worked with Jim for the last 10 years and he has always been a champion for his people within each organization he has led and also one of the best communicators and forward-thinking ORSA's I have known," Miele said.
Sumpter also praised Cooke for being the kind of leader who has always taken a keen interest in the development of the Army's future leaders.
"Since Mr. Cooke's arrival in July 2015, he has inspired me to think critically, operationally and futuristically, praise people publicly, set standards, support each other, and do what's right to defend truth and wisdom, even if you have to stand alone," Sumpter said.
Cooke continues to pledge his support to furthering outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUs, by participating in Annual National HBCU Week Conferences -- a White House initiative that provides a forum for federal agencies, private sector companies and philanthropic organizations to exchange information and share innovations with HBCUs across the country.
In his every endeavor, Cooke has demonstrated an unmatched commitment to satisfying the material needs of warfighters engaged in combat operations while supporting the Army's long-term strategic objectives. Throughout the years, his exemplary leadership has continued to have a significant, and exceptionally positive impact on the Army, its Soldiers and Army civilians.
"Jim's achievements in the analytical community continue to make him a model for others to emulate," Miele said. "I am so very proud to have him on our ATEC team and grateful for his counsel and mentoring along the way."