Most Viewed Stories
Interacting with workforce a priority for YTC commander
Lt. Col. Chad Harris assumed command of Yuma Test Center in July of last year. The ensuing months were busy ones and the pace has not slackened. Making a point to visit downrange locations frequently to meet with workers, he recently paused for an interview.
Q. What inspired you to join the Army and why did you choose that branch of service?
A. I enlisted in the infantry in 1994 because the Army seemed the right “fit” for me. I had personal goals I wished to achieve. I applied for Officer Candidate School about one year later and was accepted. I was later commissioned as an armor officer and performed in that role for 10 years. The Army expects a great deal and it's been a rewarding career, both for me and my family.
Q. How did your background prepare you for the position of YTC commander?
A. I started out as an armor officer, which directly relates to the ground combat systems we test — one of our large test areas. I later transitioned to the Operational Test Command and worked in the project manager world which prepared me for this assignment. I learned to understand the need for quality testing and became a proponent for both developmental and operational testing. I really enjoy being here.
Q. What is the most important lesson you learned in your career?
A. People generally want to do good things and be successful. If you give them the proper tools and environment, that's what they do. This has held true throughout my career and I see it at Yuma Test Center.
Q. You have been commander of YTC since last summer. What are your impressions? What has impressed you the most?
A. I have very positive impressions both of the workforce and the community. I first visited YPG as a test officer for the Operational Test Command in 1997, a customer, and had a very positive experience. I returned several more times in ensuing years, staying from a few days to a month each time. Each visit went well.
Q. Do you have any goals you wish to accomplish during your time at YTC?
A. My primary goal is to make sure the test center continues to maintain its reputation as a premier test facility. A challenge I face is a possible decline in the future test workload and budget reductions. We must do everything we can to look for and implement efficiencies in the test process.
Q. A great many of the systems deployed by the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 10 years were tested at YPG. How important was the work performed here in saving American lives or preventing injuries?
A. I'd estimate that the number of lives we helped save and injuries we helped prevent number in the thousands. We've had a direct linkage in testing systems going overseas and still do today. The members of the workforce know this, but I don't know that people in the outside community fully appreciate it. It's a source of great pride to the workforce and it's well deserved.
Q. What are your impressions of the outside Yuma community?
A. The Yuma community is highly supportive of the military, which I appreciate. This is a small town environment with all the amenities we need — I like it. There are plenty of restaurants and good shopping. We're in town at least once each week.
Q. What is your basic leadership philosophy?
A. This sounds like a cliché, but I believe in the “golden rule” — treat others as you yourself would wish to be treated. If you treat people with consistent fairness, respect, and offer mission and intent direction, people will surprise you with what they accomplish. When a leader provides the tools and environment to achieve success, people generally will.
Q. YTC is made up mostly of civilians. What do you see as the difference between leading civilians and leading soldiers? Is this a particular challenge?
A. I don't see this as a challenge, but there is a difference. A leader must use different tools and methods for working with soldiers and civilians. People are motivated by similar things and my overall intention is to help people be successful.
Q. Aside from fighting a war in Southwest Asia, the Army is developing a mobile, high tech force to meet the defense needs of the future. What role will YTC play in this process?
A. Our primary mission is to test equipment for customers in a wide variety of areas. YTC's future test mission might change a bit, with, perhaps, more training activities and more testing outside the traditional DoD customer base. The importance of what we do and the need for desert testing will continue. Even if the overall Army Test and Evaluation Command test mission declines, the percentage of what we do will remain relatively constant – between 25 and 30 percent of the command workload.