The U.S. Army Evaluation Center (AEC), held its second annual leadership symposium May 29-31 at the Aberdeen Proving Ground North (Aberdeen) Recreation Center.

The leadership conference provided the AEC leadership team (command group, directorate directors, technical directors, Strategic Initiative Group (SIG), division chiefs, lead engineers for test and safety, acquisition officers) and the Emerging Leaders Cohort an opportunity to come together as a team, level-set performance across the AEC workforce, provide an open forum to ask questions, discuss concerns and to build esprit de corps.

This year's conference theme focused on embracing change and cohesion. The creation of the U.S. Army Futures Command (AFC) resulted in the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) directly supporting AFC through prioritization of efforts, and agile and effective test and evaluation activities. As a subordinate element of ATEC, AEC's mission requirements and priorities have changed, and this year's conference represented an opportunity for the leadership team to come together to understand the impact of these changes to AEC.

AEC Executive Director (Acting) Deirdre Sumpter kicked off the symposium by providing opening remarks.

"We want to accomplish an understanding of the current Army environment, team cohesion, and transparency across AEC," Sumpter said. "My hope is that the conference continues to be held annually giving our entire leadership team a forum to collectively discuss and address the successes, challenges, and current and future mission requirements for AEC."

The conference included external speakers from AFC who discussed multi-domain operations and acculturation, along with a speaker from the Asymmetric Warfare Group who briefed about the current threats. This allowed AEC leaders an opportunity to get an appreciation for the long-term strategic competition as a central challenge to U.S. security and prosperity and to examine our AEC culture and the changes necessary to support the Army's Modernization Strategy.

Finally, civilians within AEC shared leading practices/best practices for the following programs or initiatives: Distributed Common Ground Systems - Army Capability Drop 1, Trophy Active Protection System, Integrated Visual Augmentation System, Empirically Vetted Surveys, and Cross Functional Teams, Integrator Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This provided an opportunity for leaders to learn and potentially adopt best practices for sharing with their employees.

Team building events were included to build cohesion within the organization.

"Even though the 2019 Leadership Conference is over, there is still work for everyone within AEC to foster changes that are best suited to support the U.S. Army Modernization Strategy and the Direct Support to the Army Futures
Command," said Dr. Thomas Cao, SIG specialist, who also served as lead for the leadership conference.

The symposium concluded with a formal ball held offsite where Col. (retired) Gregory D. Gadson, former garrison commander U.S. Army Fort Belvoir, actor and motivational presenter, was the speaker. Gadson served in the Army for 25-years as an officer. Due to an Improvised Explosive Device attack while serving in Iraq, he became a double amputee. Gadson has shared his inspirational message with sports teams, corporate and non-profit organizations and government agencies.