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By ANDREA AGARDY
On Friday, July 6, the Air Force will hold a ceremony to officially redesignate Arnold Engineering Development Center as a “complex” and welcoming a new commander to Tullahoma.
The redesignation is part of a consolidation plan announced last November by the Air Force and Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) designed to eliminate redundant staff positions and reduce costs.
Under the terms of the plan, AFMC will reduce the number of its centers from 12 to five by October, cutting 9,000 civilian positions in the process. AEDC will lose 18 civilian jobs this fiscal year as a result of the consolidation, and those positions will be phased out through attrition.
The new five-center construct comes in response to a Department of Defense challenge to find efficiencies and save tax dollars.
“Here at Arnold, little change is expected,” said Jason Austin, AEDC’s director of public affairs. “By aligning all the test mission-related units across the Air Force under one center, the Air Force Test Center, we streamline the way we accomplish the work of the command while maintaining our ability to perform the mission and focus on this core mission… Across the command, the transition is anticipated to save the taxpayer $109 million annually through the reduction of overhead and will serve to provide better support to the warfighter.”
Although the official ceremony will be held next month, the event does not mark the switch to the new operating model but, rather, the beginning of a transition period slated to wrap up on Oct. 1.
“There isn’t a current model for the ‘complex’ within the Air Force and this transition phase will allow the time to build the new framework through a very deliberate, focused governance process led by the new center staffs and Air Force Materiel Command,” Austin said.
Instead of reporting to a general officer whose attention is divided between five distinct missions scattered among the dozen centers the AFMC currently operates, once AEDC becomes the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, command will report to a general officer whose sole responsibility is test, Austin explained.
Edwards Air Force Base in California will begin operating as the Air Force Test Center on July 6, and the work done at AEDC will align with that center. The test center will be led by Brig. Gen. Arnold Bunch Jr. In addition to the testing at AEDC, the center will oversee the command’s test mission maintained at Edwards Air Force Base and at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
In addition to officially changing AEDC’s name, the July 6 ceremony, hosted by AFMC Commander Gen. Janet Wolfengarger, will also include a change of command, with Col. Raymond G. Toth taking over from the current commander, Col. Michael T. Brewer.
Prior to being assigned to AEDC, Toth served as the commander of the 46 th Test Group at Hollman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The 46 th Test Group is the liaison for all Air Force test and training programs and develops test techniques and procedures for directed energy weapons. The group also conducts avionics and weapon systems flight tests, high-speed test track operations, radar cross section tests and landing gear tests.
Toth’s flying experience includes operational assignments in the F-15E and F-16, in addition to an instructor tour in the AT-38B.
He is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours in more than 30 different aircraft, including combat time in the F-15E and F-16. He also completed developmental test assignments in all blocks of the F-16 and helped close the engineering and manufacturing development phase of F-22A testing as the F-22 Combined Test Force Commander. He has held headquarters-level staff assignments as the deputy chief of the weapons system division for the Air Force Legislative Liaison Office at the Pentagon and as deputy division chief for the chief of staff of the Air Force Strategic Studies Group.
Toth has received many major awards and decorations during his Air Force career, including the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Aerial Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
Andrea Agardy can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.