Wednesday, May 26, 2010

“Briefings” Are Usually Anything But “Brief”


Now that I basically work for the Army, I am entitled to attend several “briefings” each week. When I worked at NASA, we called them meetings, at Orbital it was, you guessed it…”meetings” and at Boeing, yup, same story… they were always “meetings.” But here at the Army they are not “meetings”, no my friends, they are “Briefings.” And the funny part is: they are neverrrrrr “brief.”


On Monday, I had the privilege of attending a briefing. And for all of you that have not experienced a “briefing” I would like to describe the atmosphere to you, because sometimes a new little engineer like me feels like she may actually be a part of something great.


Outside it was a normal Alabama summer day: hot, humid, stagnant. But inside, the atmosphere was energetic, passionate, and intellectual. The heat of the summer day seeped through the windows in an attempt to provide relief from the broken air conditioning. And the sweat was not only a product of temperature, but of the desire to provide our warfighters with the best equipment possible in the most timely manner. A couple dozen men (and little old me, sometimes I like to think of myself as an “honorary man” in this world of testosterone) were crammed in a small room. They included greybeards and novices (ok, so maybe it was just me that was the novice). Some had glasses and most had notebooks. Some were clad in flight suits, others in engineer garb, and still others in the crisp uniform of the U.S. Army. There was plenty of coffee. And there were the regular blackberries and laptops.


They were pilots, engineers, and project managers. And they were all here for one reason: protect the warfighter. It seems like such a simple mission, but as the briefing progressed it became obvious that coordination and communication are extremely hard concepts in the world of flight test. Each organization has their own requirements, and it is difficult to persuade others to modify schedules and already agreed-upon test events.


As I sat in the back, trying to keep up with acronyms and specifics, I thought about those men out in the field that will soon use this technology. Do they realize all of the efforts made by these fine men today? Will the product be everything they hoped for? Will it protect them adequately?


And I realized that it is worth it. All of the emotions, professional opinions, safety regulations, testing requirements, documentation…it’s all worth it for the protection of those soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect everything we enjoy here.


Oh, and as for the “briefing”…it didn’t end until Tuesday morning.
I told you they aren't "brief".