“Where there is no vision, the people perish...” – Solomon the Wise ca. 970 B.C.

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Jason Harlan
  • AEDC

In January 2019, then-United States Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis, published the National Defense Strategy (or NDS). This document signaled arguably the greatest pivot in military strategic posture since 2002. The NDS redirected the focus from the anti-terroristic model of the past 17 years towards large scale (or near peer) competition with global adversaries such as Russia and China.

Upon taking command of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex  (AEDC) in June of 2019, Col. Jeffrey T. Geraghty made it his top priority to align the Complex with the vision of the NDS. Hence, in September 2019 Geraghty mobilized key leaders, from all nine geographically separated units across the U.S., to AEDC Headquarters for the Strategic Leadership Summit.

It was at this Summit, where it was collectively realized, that AEDC too required a change in vector to better support NDS objectives. History has shown that, after the conclusion of the Cold War, AEDC suffered incremental fiscal constraints resulting in the atrophy of certain mission capabilities. Those considerations, coupled with the relatively recent redesignation of Arnold Engineering Development Center as a Complex were all factors bearing on the problem of NDS alignment. As a result, the leadership team – in concert with feedback from the field – decided that AEDC required the force and power which can only be actualized by a Numbered Wing.    

The first step towards becoming a Numbered Wing (NW), and thereby garnering all the associated resources and support that designation brings, was to potentially realign AEDC’s organizational structure. If it could be shown that a reorientation was, not only in the best interest of the Complex, but that it would bring AEDC closer to the goals stated in the NDS, then such an operation would be pursued.

After months of deliberation, numerous Complex (or Wing) organizational models – including the current structure – were presented. After a comprehensive review, it was decided the first step towards the NW goal was reorganization. In general, and among many other ancillary changes, the reallocation of existing Arnold Air Force Base Test Systems Sustainment and Test Operations divisional components into a fully functional solitary Test Division was preferred. Although the final form is yet to be fully realized, leaders across the Complex are working diligently to ensure its efficacy. Meanwhile, on a separate front, the Wing Staff has redoubled their efforts in the pursuance of additional manpower as deemed necessary to empower the branches (or squadrons) and groups (or divisions) all of which lay the groundwork for AEDC’s NW authorization.

The NDS places the modernization and preparation of various technologies, e.g. weapons, platforms, etc., center-stage in its efforts to deter and defeat our nation’s adversaries. Many of those capabilities will be tested in, and by, any number of AEDC facilities and experts. Although AEDC is known for its technological achievement and advancement, there is an often overlooked aspect that is equally germane to the AEDC spirit...innovation and change – through which, we pacify our enemies!

Our founder Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold said it best when he wrote to Dr. Theodore Von Karman: “The possibility of future wars cannot be overlooked…I am asking you and your associates to divorce yourself from the present…in order to investigate all the possibilities and desirabilities for…future war’s development.”

As America reenters the arena of potential large-scale global combat with worthy and capable adversaries, AEDC’s technology will, not only be on the forefront, but is the decisive component in American Victory!