U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center commander earns high praise for steady hand
U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center Commander Lt. Col. Ina Jackson has selflessly guided her rugged post since assuming command in 2020. Taking the reins in a time of unprecedented uncertainty, Jackson impressed superiors and subordinates alike with her steady hand and focus on the mission.

“Lt. Col. Jackson provides really good research and a measured response in all she does,” said Richard Reiser, security manager. “She pays a lot of attention to detail and doesn’t make snap judgments or knee-jerk reactions, which I appreciate.” (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer)
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U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center Commander Lt. Col. Ina Jackson has selflessly guided her rugged post since assuming command in 2020.

Taking the reins in a time of unprecedented uncertainty, Jackson impressed superiors and subordinates alike with her steady hand and focus on the mission.

“Lt. Col. Jackson provides really good research and a measured response in all she does,” said Richard Reiser, security manager. “She pays a lot of attention to detail and doesn’t make snap judgments or knee-jerk reactions, which I appreciate.”

CRTC’s test mission has kept personnel busy during her tenure: the important evaluations included the latest iteration of the M1 Abrams main battle tank and the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), an augmented reality goggle that is one of the highest profile pieces of new equipment in the Army today.

“We are the Department of Defense’s only natural environment cold weather capability,” she said. “It is important to test in a natural environment vice a cold chamber.”

Many past commanders of the test center have frankly admitted that the prospect of months of subzero temperatures and long winter nights did not appeal to them prior to starting the job. Jackson is not one of them.

“When I saw the list, it was definitely in my top five. It was a place I’d never been before, and I really admired the mission. When I got here, I was so happy I did.”

Jackson says she was quickly impressed with the noteworthy competence and extensive experience of CRTC’s workforce.

“I knew the workforce was outstanding even before I got here. CRTC has subject matter experts that have been here for 15 or 20 years and know Arctic conditions. That is all-important for what we do.”

Jackson hails from Lake City, Florida, a subtropical warm climate where there is never the need to use snow tires or plug in an electric heater while parked to keep a car’s oil pan from freezing.

“My family is still there and are always excited to hear about the extreme weather conditions here in the winter,” she said with a laugh.

Jackson comes from a family with multiple service members, but was inspired to join the Army by her aunt.

“I had graduated from college and was trying to decide what I wanted to do next. I have family members in all branches of the military. One of my aunts was in the Army and talked to me about it—it was her inspiration that directed my path to the Army.”

She joined in 2001, just as the tragic events of 9/11 sent the United States into a global war against terrorism. Among other places overseas, Jackson deployed twice to Afghanistan during those years, and was also stationed in South Korea and Qatar.

“It’s been an amazing journey. My family has always been very supportive whenever I was deployed or moving from installation to installation. They are the reason I keep going every day.”

None of her previous duty stations were quite like CRTC, however. In the winter test season, CRTC personnel work long hours in harsh conditions testing equipment for Soldiers, while summer months are spent maintaining and repairing test infrastructure worn down by extreme winter weather. It is inherently dangerous work in an extreme environment, and Jackson is impressed with the rugged professionals who work at the test center.

“Safety is paramount in everything we do here. Making sure the workforce is safe during testing is where my command philosophy starts.”

Aside from the usual punishing winter elements, the CRTC workforce experienced the same challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic as the rest of YPG. Jackson says the workforce handled the uncertainty with aplomb, which she attributes to good communication and the workforce’s rugged professionalism.