Friday, January 26, 2018

New DOT&E Director

After many years of Dr. Michael Gilmore at the helm of the Pentagon’s testing and evaluation group, Director, Operational Testing & Evaluation (DOT&E), we now have a new Director.  Given that DOT&E was the only voice of truth in the developmental process of new weapons and systems, the presence and performance of a new Director is critical in the extreme.  A weak Director will result in unproven and flawed weapon systems making it to production and giving our forces flawed and inferior weapons.  Conversely, a strong, independent, and objective Director, as Dr. Gilmore was, will ensure that at least one group in the Pentagon will tell the truth about the weapons and systems we are developing. 

DOT&E has just issued its 2017 Annual Report.  Most of the work presented therein occurred under Dr. Gilmore’s direction so that doesn’t tell us anything about the new Director.  However, the new Director, Robert Behler, did write the introductory portion of the report and it offers some potentially interesting insights into his views and how he will seek to run the group.

Mr. Behler noted a few focus areas that he intends to concentrate on.  One of these is software testing.  As he notes,

“Today, the building material of choice for our weapon systems is software. The amount of software source lines of code in today’s weapon systems is growing exponentially. Software does not just increase the functionality of these systems, it fundamentally defines the weapon system. However, as the number of lines of code increases so does the complexity of the system and cybersecurity vulnerabilities. …  We are now making more changes that effect system capability through software than through hardware.”

Mr. Behler is astutely correct and his desire to place greater emphasis on software testing is completely correct.

He also recognizes the benefit of more realistic testing earlier in the developmental cycle.

“… DT events can benefit from greater operational realism. … My office has often observed that operational testing identifies system performance problems that should have been identified in DT&E.”

Pure common sense, of course!  Sadly, the military does not share that common sense which is why we need a strong DOT&E group.

Mr. Behler identified other areas of emphasis that are equally important but these examples serve to give us a glimpse into his views and I have to say that the initial impression is a good one.  I will be watching closely to see how he performs but the early suggestion is that he will continue the exemplary work of his predecessor, Dr. Gilmore.


  1. "Behler laid out several roadblocks that could hinder the F35 modernization program as it heads out of development and into the start of IOT&E, including.....
    What Mr. Behler stated makes sense to me, test more !

  2. What's obscene about that sentence is the fact that we have a modernization program for a fighter that just barely entered service.

    1. archer,I agree.Then one reads about readiness issues with the F35 that have been reported.

    2. I've always said anything before F35 Block 4 will be pretty much useless, some of the earlier blocks more than likely will never be upgraded, they will end up good trainers for a few more years and maintenance trainers after that. So we are probably looking at 300, give or take a few that really will never be combat ready.

      I never took the time to research how the "teen" fighters did with LRIPS and early blocks, I'm sure the early F16 Block 5s weren't really that great, same probably with the early block F15s BUT I doubt we saw the same numbers of "useless" jets than with the F35....

    3. NICO, it's already been announced that 108 F-35's will not be upgraded and will not become combat capable. They have been referred to as concurrency orphans because they were built to a non-functional standard and we can't afford the cost to upgraded them to current standards. That's likely just the tip of the iceberg. The Navy/Marines have another 100 or so that are also likely to never be combat capable.

      My guess is that we'll see 300+ concurrency orphans before it's over.

    4. Thanks, I couldn't remember the number (108) that was already put out,yep, 300 in the long run seems about right. I'll have to find the time one day to look and compare how other programs did in the past. It's pretty regular to have some early jets not really be combat ready but this many seems a bit much....

    5. Mr. Behler was doing his job here, but we have a sophisticated fighter aircraft being fast tracked with red flags being brought forth by Mr. Behler with regard to the block 4 and software. That is a large expenditure for concurrency orphans.

    6. "but we have a sophisticated fighter aircraft being fast tracked with red flags"

      Unfortunately, all DOT&E can do is advise. The Navy can, and all too often does, ignore the advice and proceed without testing approvals.


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