Truth in Testing

By LTC Gary Pina

The Fires Test Directorate (FTD), originally organized as the Field Artillery Board, has remained the cornerstone of fielding and testing for all Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery equipment since its inception in 1902.

Collocated with the Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) at Fort Sill, Okla., it consists of operational test subject matter experts from the Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery communities. The FTD has the mission of planning, conducting, and reporting on independent operational tests, assessments, and experiments, providing essential information to the decision making process for the acquisition and fielding of fire support, Field Artillery, and Air Defense Artillery systems.

On June 25, 1902, the U.S. Army Field Artillery Board was formally constituted at Fort Riley, Kan., and charged with the mission of providing recommendations for improving Field Artillery equipment. The Field Artillery Board moved to Fort Sill in 1913 where it became involved with testing and evaluating Field Artillery tactics, as well as materiel. MG William J. Snow, Field Artillery branch chief, moved the Field Artillery Board to Camp Bragg, N.C., in 1922, where it remained until June 1954, to be near the manufacturing centers on the east coast.

The board returned to Fort Sill to facilitate coordination and the interchange of ideas and information between the testing community and the Field Artillery School. In 1990, the U.S. Army Field Artillery Board was renamed the Fire Support Test Directorate (FSTD). In accordance with the Base Realignment and Closure 2005 implementation plan for Fort Sill/Fort Bliss, Texas, the FSTD, Fort Sill, and the Air Defense Artillery Test Directorate (ADATD), Fort Bliss realigned on Sept. 25, 2009 to create the Fires Test Directorate at Fort Sill.

The FTD consists of officers and noncommissioned officers from the Field Artillery, Air Defense Artillery, and Army acquisition branches, and Department of the Army civilians and government contractors. The directorate works continuously and extensively with Army evaluators, developmental testers, and materiel, combat, and training developers to address test and evaluation requirements for fire support, Field Artillery, and Air Defense Artillery systems.

Designing and conducting operational tests for all Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery systems, the FTD also assesses rapid acquisition initiatives in support of overseas contingency operations and has provided data collectors to serve on forward operational assessment teams, which have deployed in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The FTD is also responsible for the development and maintenance of unique instrumentation equipment used during tests, such as the Geometric Automated Video Enhanced Location System and Extensible Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence Suite.

The FTD has conducted operational tests on several major programs including the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, Multiple Launch Rocket System, Excalibur Precision Engagement Projectile, Patriot Post-Deployment Build 7, Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, M109 Paladin Integrated Management, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, AN/TPQ-53 Target Acquisition Radar System, Digitized M119A2 105 mm Light Towed Howitzer, and the XM1156 Precision Guided Kit. Heavily committed to the accomplishment of its mission of planning, conducting, and reporting on operational and other types of tests for Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery systems, FTD successfully stands behind its goal of providing the highest quality independent test information to senior Army leadership.

Lieutenant Colonel Pina is currently assigned to the Fires Test Directorate as the division chief of the Artillery Test Division. His previous assignments include brigade executive officer, 214th Field Artillery Brigade. Commissioned a second lieutenant in 1996. His operational assignments include duties at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Giessen, Germany.