When the safety director for Aviation and Missile Command retired in December, AMCOM leadership didn’t have to go far to find a replacement. Doug Miller, the former Aviation System Safety Division chief with degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, was selected from a host of highly qualified candidates.
“While there were big shoes to fill, we were fortunate enough to have multiple exceptional candidates to choose from for the safety director position,” Maj. Gen. Todd Royar, AMCOM commander, said. “No stranger to AMCOM, Doug Miller brings a wealth of leadership and experience to the table. I am confident in his abilities to take the office to even greater levels.”
Miller spent the last 17 years at Redstone Test Center, serving in a variety of positions to include chief engineer, test engineer, team leader, test manager, helicopter pilot and aviation, missile and sensor testing.
For Miller, aviation and safety are interdependent, and the position of AMCOM safety director interested him for a variety of reasons.
“It appealed to me from the perspective of career growth. I had been at the same organization for 17 years and this was an opportunity to do something different while maintaining that service to the Soldier in an area I was familiar with,” he said. “Aviation is at the heart of who I am. I spent a lot of time testing missile systems, so it wasn’t a big jump.
“The processes that you follow in testing are very similar to those in safety. You learn about a system, you ask critical questions, you make an assessment and you report. It wasn’t a big jump to go from testing to safety, because safety is a big part of what we do in the test world.”
After graduation from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Miller began his career at Boeing. He spent seven years as a systems engineer, manufacturing engineer and production tool design engineer before realizing that was not his passion.
“I got bored doing production tool design – sitting in a dark room, designing tooling,” he said. “One day, while driving home, I saw Black Hawk helicopters doing sling load operations near the interstate. I said to myself, ‘That’s what I’d rather have done today.’”
The next day, Miller spoke with an Army recruiter and four months later, he was a “baldheaded private” at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, at age 28.
Miller spent 10 years as an Army officer in a variety of assignments as a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot in command supporting both individual and multinational combined arms operations. He credits his wife with being supportive of his career change and helping him achieve several career milestones (military and civilian) over the years.
“Thankfully, my wife realized I was passionate about this decision and she fully supported me. We both quit our jobs, sold our home and embarked on our Army journey,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t getting any younger and, although I was a little older when I got started, it was the best decision I ever made.”
After leaving the Army, the transition from Soldier to civilian came easily to Miller – as both were born from a desire to serve. He chose to work in safety because it is an integral part of the Army mission that he understood.
“I put a lot of faith in the equipment that was issued to me. I used it to complete my mission, and I relied on it to be effective and keep me safe. That need is still out there today,” he said. “As a civilian, I can continue to do that. I spent 17 years with the Redstone Test Center as a tester and the same motivation was there – to ensure that we had safe, reliable, effective, lethal systems to support the warfighter.”
Miller now leads the safety office he has been a part of for nearly two decades and feels the weight of the responsibility he has to the Army, to AMCOM and the people who work with him and for him.
“It’s important for leaders to communicate their vision and for me, my priorities are the people that do the mission, the products we produce, the processes that enable those products, the technology that we use and support, in order to make a good safety assessment,” he said.
Miller lives in Huntsville with his wife Lori and sons Ryan and Jared.