YPG Starts Year as the Army’s Busiest Test Site

2013-01-03 21:38:00

With all of the talk of economic calamity resulting from our nation falling over a fiscal cliff, one of the unique realities of Yuma County’s economic life is that it is home for the Army’s busiest proving ground — U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. Having racked up over two million direct labor hours last year, YPG has led the Army as the busiest test center for three years in a row.

One of the largest military installations in the western world, 1,300 square miles in size, Yuma Proving Ground’s mission is to ensure the success and dependability of weapon systems and munitions used by American military forces anywhere in the world. The proving ground’s test and development facilities are capable of testing nearly everything in the Army’s combat arsenal, from main battle tanks and artillery pieces to unmanned aircraft, parachute systems and technologies that defeat roadside bombs.

Yuma Proving Ground features one of the longest overland artillery ranges (40 miles) in the nation, the most highly instrumented helicopter armament test range in the Department of Defense, over 200 miles of improved road courses for testing tracked and wheeled vehicles, 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable linking 400 test locations, the most modern mine test facility in the western hemisphere, six airfields, and simulated overseas urban areas specifically constructed to defeat the threat of improvised explosive devices.

“YPG has a great workforce and environment,” said Lt. Col. Chad Harris, Yuma Test Center commander. “Our people are dedicated to the mission. Customers get testing performed quickly and receive accurate reports. That is why they keep coming back.”

Though the total number of labor hours last year was down from its 2011 peak of nearly 2.8 million, it is virtually equivalent to the number posted in 2009, and remains about twice as high as prior to the beginning of military operations in Southwest Asia early in the last decade. The proving ground also expanded its training operations, involving units of soldiers and Marines, as well as military working dogs. Over 600 military working dogs went through training at the proving ground last year.

Though test budgets are expected to decline in coming years, as military budget dollars decrease, YPG senior leaders are confident customers will continue to seek out the proving ground for its technical expertise, highly instrumented ranges and customer-focused culture.

“YPG is a great place to conduct environmental and developmental testing programs,” said Harris. “We have a great reputation both in the United States and among our partner nations. YPG’s work is critical to the defense of the nation.”

“There is almost unlimited potential at YPG in terms of what we can do,” added Col. Reed Young, YPG commander. “I’m confident that as long as we have the right mentality and maintain the proving ground’s flexibility, modularity and adaptability, the proving ground is going to survive extremely well in future years.”

Chuck Wullenjohn is the public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. He can be reached