Robert M. Miele, Executive Technical Director and Deputy to the Commander of the U.S. Army Test Evaluation Command (left), administers the Senior Executive Service oath to John W. Diem during his swearing-in as the Civilian Executive Director of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command at its West Fort Hood, Texas headquarters Friday. (Photo by Larry L. Furnace, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Test and Documentation Team)


By Michael M. Novogradac, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs

WEST FORT HOOD, Texas – The unit here that conducts independent operational tests of Army equipment systems promoted its new Civilian Executive Director into the Senior Executive Service Friday.

Harker Heights resident John W. Diem became the eighth executive director of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, as Fort Hood’s only one-star general equivalent, and one of 261 Army Senior Executives.

“A tough cut to make, reserved for the Army’s very best,” said Brig. Gen. John C. Ulrich, USAOTC commander.

Diem began service as an Air Defense Artillery Officer after graduating from Texas A&M University in 1978; then switched to the Military Intelligence Corps in 1981.

He reminisced about his first stint as a military test officer, reporting to Fort Hood in 1982 while assigned as a test officer with Training and Doctrine Command.

“When I reported in to the TRADOC Combined Arms Test Activity – to the Battlefield Automation Test Directorate housed in this very building – as the most junior officer in the command 36 years ago next month, I never imagined that I’d be standing in front of you all today, in this same building, getting ready to raise my right hand as the senior civilian in the successor to that same command,” Diem said.

For the last 36 years, Diem has served in a variety of Army simulation, training, operations, and operational and developmental testing positions.

Most recently, he was USAOTC’s deputy director for the Test Technology Directorate, and later as director, overseeing a $20 million-per-year technology development budget.

“I feel excited, blessed, and occasionally terrified,” Diem said of his new position. “This is a big responsibility. We test billions of dollars of systems every year – large budget, large workforce, spread across the country. The decisions that we make, the data that we collect about a system, is the difference between whether it’s going to a Soldier down range in combat or not. I don’t take that lightly.”

The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command’s Executive Technical Director Robert M. Miele, made the trip from Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD., to administer the SES oath to Diem.

“This position is key to really ensuring that Soldiers have a safe piece of equipment; that it’s survivable, that it’s effective, and it’s suitable for use in all environments,” he said.

“John’s got 36 years of doing this business, so he is the right person for the job and I know he’ll do a great job.”


About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command plans and conducts independent operational testing and experiments in order to provide essential information for the decision-making process. The USAOTC supports the Army material acquisition and force development processes by managing the user testing program and conducting operational testing to support continuous comprehensive evaluation and force development. The USAOTC motto is “truth in testing” and by delivering this capability, the USAOTC provides well-being for our Soldiers and civilians. For more information on the USAOTC, visit