Mike Dickerson has spent his professional career at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG). He started as a test officer in the Munitions and Weapons Division and has steadily moved up the ranks in the last 13 years. Dickerson is currently the Instrumentation Division Chief and oversees all the range instrumentation at YPG which includes optics, radars, telemetry and ballistics.
With more than a decade at YPG, Dickerson was ready for a broadening experience “You can kind of fall into a rut of the same ol’ same ‘ol,” said Dickerson, “I was looking to get a different perspective on the work I am doing at YPG which would be beneficial to my career.”
In the Fall of 2020, Dickerson applied for a detail with the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for Test and Evaluation (DUSA-TE). The DUSA-TE team works as advisors to the Secretary of the Army for all matters related to Army test and evaluation.
“I have been looking to do a detail outside of ATEC because I wanted to get an external perspective. When the DUSA one came up, it was perfect because it was T&E related but it was outside of ATEC.”
The selection process had multiple steps. First, at the YPG level, then up to The Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC)— YPG’s superior command. After that step, Dickerson competed with individuals from other Army organizations. Around Christmastime he received the notification he had been selected and would begin his detail within a few weeks.
Because of COVID, Dickerson did not have the opportunity to work from Washington D.C., which is how detail assignments like this typically work. Instead Dickerson performed his detail assignment from home – even so, the detail assignment was completely hands on.
“It’s a relationship where both parties get something out of it,” explains Dickerson, “They really task people with work. It’s not just a learning experience and listening on phone calls. They give you work so you can help them get their job done.”
Dickerson worked alongside the policy adviser who oversees Army regulation for test and evaluation and helped her write several policy memos.
“I also worked with the division chief of resources and infrastructure on a few topics. Much of the work involved presenting information and advising the T&E executive so that he could make an informed decision. We would then coordinate with the groups the decision would impact.”
Dickerson believes having familiarity with test and evaluation as well as his experience with investments and budgets was helpful during this detail.
“It definitely helped me speak their language a little bit. I could identify some things we do within ATEC that they weren’t completely knowledgeable about which helped speed-up some of the tasks they were working on.”
After finishing the four-month detail Dickerson found the perspective he was looking for.
“It was an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot of information that I could take back to my current job and become better. It was interesting to see the top-level perspective on Army T&E and understand the larger picture that we operate within at YPG.”