Harker Heights resident John W. Diem was named the new civilian executive director for the U.S. Army Operational Test Command during a promotion ceremony near the command’s headquarters on West Fort Hood on Friday.
Diem was promoted into the senior executive service and will serve as the eighth executive director for the command, a federal civilian equivalent to a one-star general officer.
As executive director, Diem will oversee operational tests, assessments and experiments on weapons, equipment and doctrine at testing locations across the United States.
Diem will supervise more than 1,100 military and civilian members and $46 million in contracts.
The host for the ceremony was Brig. Gen. John Ulrich, the Operational Test Command commander.
“John has distinguished himself in faithful and honorable service to our country,” Ulrich said. “He is a leader who continues to live our Army values and provide stability and continuity for our soldiers during tumultuous and peaceful times. John Diem is the epitome of an Army civilian.”
Ulrich said Diem was in the past assigned to almost every predecessor of the Operational Test Command and its current testing programs.
“In 1992, John began serving as a civilian test officer for then the TRADOC Test and Experimentation Command, another predecessor for our organization,” Ulrich said. “For the last 36 years, Mr. Diem has served in a variety of Army simulation, training, operational and developmental testing commands.”
Diem said the appointment was an amazing opportunity to be an advocate for the American soldier, to make sure the equipment they receive works and is reliable. Diem also said he wants to ensure the skills and workforce are modernized for the modern threats the country faces, to include Cyber Security.
“You don’t have to read the newspaper too often to see that America is a nation under attack, our networks are being attacked, our computers are being attacked; if it’s not the most important, it’s one of the most important objectives,” said Diem.
Diem also said if the Army doesn’t change their tools and skills due to ever-changing technology and automation, they’d become irrelevant.
“A lot of my focus is going to be on the workforce, making sure we got the right folks with the right technical skills,” Diem said. “(I) really want to reach out to the universities to start bringing some of those skills in, new ideas and new talent and look at the tools we use and measure those systems on the battlefield and how they work.”
Diem has held positions as developmental and operational test officer, research/systems analyst, simulation lead, and technology division chief. Diem served as the III Corps G3 from 2003 to 2005 and directed the deployment and re-deployment of more than 140,000 soldiers.
Diem has a Master of Science degree in Geography and a Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude) in History, both from Texas A&M University.
Diem said the assignment as the new executive director usually lasts approximately two years.