By Susan Hagan, U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD, June 8, 2006. (Army News Service) – The U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center recently received feedback from a wounded warrior on how soldiers use and adapt their equipment in the field.

First Lt. Brennan Speakes, a platoon leader with A Troop, 1-71 Cavalry, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), visited the Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) On May 24, to share his wartime experience with testers. He was wounded in Iraq when his M1114 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) rolled over.

While touring the Automotive Command Center, where vehicles are equipped before testing, Speakes offered insight on the types of things soldiers do to their vehicles in Iraq, such as replacing parts and tightening loose bolts.

“That’s the sort of thing that we don’t necessarily find out about,” said John Wallace, ATC’s Technical Director. “Input from soldiers such as 1st Lt. Speakes gives our engineers a glimpse of how the vehicles we are testing are repaired and maintained in Iraq. Such input allows ATC to more effectively test vehicles and offer suggestions to program managers on ways to improve vehicles. Our goal is to make sure everything we test is safe, effective and reliable.”

Speakes also watched test shots on an armor-equipped HMMWV. ATC has tested nearly 430 armor kits since the beginning of the war in Iraq. “Everything I can think of that I’m interested in, you test here,” Speakes commented. “This has been a great opportunity.’

Some of ATC’s most notable achievements include testing the Army’s newest Stryker vehicle, and designing, fabricating and testing slat armor - the cage-like apparatus bolted to the Stryker to protect the vehicle from rocket propelled grenades.

ATC also tests armor kits for HMMWVs and other vehicles to provide troops with better protection from improvised explosive devices and other threats.