Editor’s Note: Erin Dorrance, White Sands Missile Range Chief of Public Affairs, interviewed Maj. Gen. Daniel Karbler, Army Test and Evaluation Command commander, Oct. 1 at the Frontier Club during his first visit to WSMR as the ATEC commander. It was unknown up until the night before if PAO would be able to conduct the interview due to a looming government shutdown which did not happen.
Q1. You have been here a couple of days now. What are your thoughts after visiting White Sands Missile Range?
A1. First off, I am just amazed. Every time I come to visit one of ATEC’s commands I learn so much about the scope and enormity of the mission and what our team does. I learn in detail about the tests that we are supporting. I also hear the concerns. The professionalism of all who work here at White Sands has thoroughly impressed me.
Q2. What is the future for WSMR employees as far as budget constraints and possible personnel cutbacks?
A2. We continue to fight and make the case for the importance of the test and evaluation mission. WSMR is a national treasure. That is recognized at the office of the Secretary of Defense as well as with the Army’s senior leadership. As part of my visit here I am going down to NIE [Network Integration Evaluation]. White Sands is proving its worth to the Army with exercises like that, and the big, complex tests that it does all year round. We will make sure the DOD and Army leadership recognizes that importance and resource it accordingly.
Q3. Is there a plan to upgrade WSMR facilities/equipment to remain competitive?
A3. There is a plan. That is part of my visit. I have to walk around and look at the equipment and talk to General Coffin and teammates to fully appreciate and understand where we need to go with modernization. My vision is to take a look at it and set priorities of where we should be able to help White Sands out.
Q4. What are your goals and priorities for WSMR? Long-term vision 10-15-20 years?
A4. Last week we had the opportunity to meet with Gen. Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, and he laid out very clearly what his priorities are. General Milley’s priorities are my priorities. His first priority is current readiness. To make sure the force is ready to fight in a very complex environment. The second priority is the future Army–that is really where I think ATEC plays a significant role because those future systems that are delivered to us in 10 to 15 years–ATEC is testing and evaluating those systems to ensure that we provide the right capability to the Soldier. That is our bread and butter. And the last priority also plays a large role in ATEC, make sure you take care of Soldiers and Families. In talking to teammates out at White Sands and around ATEC, everyone embraces those priorities.
Q5.What are you taking back to ATEC from your visit to WSMR?
A5. I could go get my notebook which has about ten pages worth of notes to take back to my staff. I want to make sure that as best we can, we resource White Sands to not just do its mission, but to allow customers to leave fully satisfied and want to come back knowing that it is a top notch, world-class operation.
Q6. What do you want WSMR to do for ATEC and the Army?
A6. Just what it is doing right now. World-class test results, feedback to the customer, being flexible and supportive to customers; both customers that are transient as well as those who reside here full time, like the Navy and Air Force. I want to make sure that White Sands is resourced from ATEC properly so customers aren’t going somewhere else to do their tests.
Q7. Do you have a defining moment in your military career or something you would like Team WSMR to know that shaped who you are?
A7. When I was a lieutenant, I was deployed to Israel during Desert Storm with a Patriot battalion out of Germany. Before then I had considered getting out of the Army. I was going to serve my time and go do something else. But during that deployment I watched the Patriot’s performance. Shame on me, I wasn’t in the bunker in my MOPP [mission oriented protective posture] gear, but I was outside of the bunker so I could watch the Patriot Missile do its mission. I thought it was pretty cool and decided it was something I wanted to do for a long time. It was really cool to watch a missile intercept a missile, but also knowing that we were defending the city of Tel Aviv had a very significant impact on me.
General Karbler gleefully ended the interview with a shout out to the Green Bay Packers.