The Army test and evaluation community is like an elite club. Eventually its Soldiers meet up again with their former leaders and mentors.

Such is the case with Col. Steven Braddom, the new commander of Redstone Test Center. He knew the center’s past several commanders from previous assignments.

Braddom succeeded Col. John Jones in a change of command ceremony Thursday at Test Area One. Jones had commanded the center since August 2016.

“I’m really humbled to serve,” Braddom, who most recently was director of the Aviation Development Directorate-Eustis at Fort Eustis, Virginia, said. “The Army Test and Evaluation Command has a critical mission that’s tied directly to the warfighter. We’re all about ensuring the warfighter can be as lethal and survivable as possible.”

Maj. Gen. Joel Tyler, commander of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, served as host for the morning ceremony which had more than 300 attendees. He presented the Legion of Merit to Jones, retiring after 30 years of service.

“It takes a special leader to run this place,” Tyler said.

Jones, 51, who has two children, Ian and Zoey, will remain in Huntsville. “My plans are to finish this command and then eventually do something similar supporting our nation’s warfighters right here in the Huntsville community,” he said. “I’m hanging up the uniform but I want to still serve.”

The 1,300-member center encompasses more than 14,000 acres, or about one-third of the land area of Redstone Arsenal. It has provided cutting-edge test and evaluation support for its customers since the early 1950s. In October 2010, the Aviation Test Center from Fort Rucker and the Redstone Technical Test Center consolidated forming Redstone Test Center.

“This little outpost of excellence is a really key piece of Army modernization,” Tyler said.

Braddom, 48, from Columbus, Ohio, was commissioned from the U.S. Military Academy as a second lieutenant in the aviation branch in 1993. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two daughters, Ashley and Katherine.

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