REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Oct. 14, 2022) – It was an opportunity to be witness to the Army innovation enterprise that Allen Walker could not pass up.
Walker was chosen to serve a six-month developmental assignment at Army Futures Command in Austin, Texas, in the Strategic Initiatives group for Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, Deputy Commanding General for Acquisition and Systems and Chief Innovation Officer. While Walker is no stranger to research and development -- having just celebrated 20 years with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center -- this role has given him a new understanding of the breadth of programs in the AFC portfolio.
Walker took a temporary leave from his role at Fort Eustis, Virginia as Chief, Design and Test Division in the AvMC Technology Development Directorate and immersed himself in the programs that will be participating in Project Convergence 2022, the Army’s annual campaign of learning that leverages a series of joint, multi-domain engagements to integrate artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomy into combat capabilities.
“We look at all the innovative efforts, strategies and initiatives that Lt. Gen. Todd is involved in and the ways in which we can support,” Walker said. “He is very interested in keeping industry engaged in these type of experimentation events and bringing new and innovative technologies to the field. We make sure he is fully informed so he can be the champion and advocate for those activities.”
When it comes to aviation Walker was in his zone, but he has also had to quickly get up to speed on “what is going on at the Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the Army Research Lab – at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and RCCTO (Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office). It has made me realize I can’t just be focused on the aviation piece – that I need to look broader to see if there are pieces over here or there that can be leveraged.
“The best part has been learning about the different perspectives, but that also people sometimes have the same issues, the same problems.”
Walker said that he does miss his team at TDD but that “there never is a good time to leave. There is always a project finishing up and another one starting.”
With this being a temporary assignment, Walker will wrap up his time in Austin in early 2023. For anyone interested in the position in the future, he unequivocally recommended: “Go for it.”
“There are parts of this job where yes, I can feel a bit uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone. But that’s a good thing for anyone wanting to progress their career. Be prepared to put your biases aside and learn. Because your eyes will definitely be opened.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.