Flight Systems CTF refocuses on safety and security during operations stand down

Flight Systems Combined Test Force Director Lt. Col. David Hoffman speaks with CTF personnel during a recent session to discuss safety and security issues. CTF operations were stood down on Feb. 5 for safety and security discussions.

Flight Systems Combined Test Force Director Lt. Col. David Hoffman speaks with CTF personnel during a recent session to discuss safety and security issues. CTF operations were stood down on Feb. 5 for safety and security discussions.

Tamalena Breiding, facility security officer with Facility Support Services contract, speaks about security procedures with Flight Systems CTF personnel during a Feb. 5 session. CTF operations were stood down on that date for safety and security discussions.

Tamalena Breiding, facility security officer with Facility Support Services contract, speaks about security procedures with Flight Systems CTF personnel during a Feb. 5 session. CTF operations were stood down on that date for safety and security discussions.

Flight Systems Combined Test Force Director Lt. Col. David Hoffman speaks with CTF personnel during a recent session to discuss safety and security issues. CTF operations were stood down on Feb. 5 for safety and security discussions.

Flight Systems Combined Test Force Director Lt. Col. David Hoffman speaks with CTF personnel during a recent session to discuss safety and security issues. CTF operations were stood down on Feb. 5 for safety and security discussions.

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- Following what he described as a series of “significant events,” Flight Systems Combined Test Force Director Lt. Col. David Hoffman made the decision to stand down Flight Systems CTF operations.

In lieu of normal testing and maintenance operations on Feb. 5, Hoffman led several sessions at the Arnold Air Force Base Main Auditorium during which he emphasized the importance of safety and security to the CTF personnel and urged them to refocus on these priorities.

“There is nothing more important than our safety, so much so that we are not testing today on the base’s number one and number two priority tests,” Hoffman said to personnel during one of the morning sessions. “Our work is at the leading edge of a new type of warfare. This technological warfare starts here at Arnold. The test cells are our flight line. It is here that we are working on programs that enable Secretary of Defense (Jim) Mattis’ DOD focus on ‘great power competition.’”

The decision to stand down operations and hold these discussions was predicated by recent security issues and what Hoffman described as a “near miss” safety event that occurred recently in Propulsion Wind Tunnel 16-foot Transonic Tunnel.

Hoffman said no one was injured in the safety-related incident, adding the event is under investigation. He said the event occurred because procedures were not followed.

“It created a situation where we could have hurt someone,” Hoffman said. “Thankfully, we didn’t. We didn’t damage anything, but that lack of adherence to the process is what concerns me.”

Flight Systems CTF Test Operations and Sustainment Manager Jon Guertin also spoke to CTF personnel about the importance of safety. Guertin said while staying on schedule with maintenance and testing is important, it does not supersede safety.

Guertin reminded personnel that they have the ability to slow down or stop a process if uncertain or uncomfortable. The goal is not speed but rather compliance and excellence.

“If it can’t be done with speed because it compromises excellence and tomorrow’s mission, then don’t do it with speed,” Guertin said.

Guertin emphasized that staff should rely on best practices and procedures to avoid safety and security issues. When plans change, operations become more vulnerable to such issues. Personnel should also stop and reevaluate to ensure the correct processes are followed.
“We don’t have a mission unless you’re here tomorrow,” Guertin said during the morning sessions.

Guertin encouraged personnel to stop and ask questions when unsure because a clear understanding of safety and security is vital. Along with stopping when unsure, another NAS Quality Absolute is Owning Your Signature. Guertin said employees should not sign off on work they are unsure of.

While Hoffman said there was not a specific security incident that led to security becoming a topic of focus during the Feb. 5 sessions, he said recent trends created concerns in that area and the need for a renewed focus on it.

AEDC Facility Security Officer Tamalena Breiding talked about items not permitted in classified areas. These include cell phones, Fitbits, key fobs, smart watches, bluetooth devices, smart calculators, USB thumb drives, radio transmitters, AM/FM radios, personal audio/video players, and photography and recording equipment. Such items present a security risk if brought into classified areas and can be confiscated and searched if found to have been brought into classified areas. Breiding urged personnel to be cognizant of signage marking classified areas and also covered the AEDC’s camera pass policy.

Those who observe violations or potential violations have a responsibility to notify security officials. Breiding said “not reporting is not an option,” adding those who observe a violation but fail to notify security staff run the risk of losing their own security clearance.

“If you see something that just doesn’t look right, report it,” Breiding said.

Deviations to security procedures are not common, Breiding said, adding any deviations are designated only for short periods of time and are approved on a case-by-case basis. Breiding also discussed the five security responsibilities. These are Awareness, Information Protection, Reporting, Compliance, and maintaining a positive attitude when it comes to security.

“If folks don’t have a positive attitude about security, things can slip through the cracks,” she said.

All CTF personnel were required to attend one of the three sessions held Feb. 5. Following the sessions, CTF staff took part in smaller group sessions conducted by supervisors.

“Standing down and taking the time to refocus is important to me,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman received the support of Base management and security officials, who quickly responded by helping him coordinate the sessions.

“There are many actions that were generated out of our dialogues today, and I am looking forward to working with the team to increase our safety and security while seeking efficiencies when able,” Hoffman wrote in an email to the CTF announcing the return to operations. “I know our team is stronger from having gone through this, and I am optimistic that by incorporating what we learned we may be able to avoid having to accomplish this again for the foreseeable future.”