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.