FEBRUARY 14, 2017, PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) – In May and June of 2016, Navy Test Officer (NTO) Lt. Jillian Bahlman went off to the shores of Kauai, Hawaii, to the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) where she served in various critical roles.
These roles included the execution of challenging Aegis Baseline 9.C1 (Ballistic Missile Defense 5.0 capability upgrade) test objectives against a medium-range ballistic missile; the execution of two successful missile firings from guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70); and served as the lead test officer for Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet during Exercise Pacific Dragon (PD).
Those were her first three assignments as an NTO, but this did not faze her. During Bahlman’s time supporting these test and evaluation (T&E) campaigns, her efforts were recognized by senior leadership.
In May 2016, Bahlman’s skillful management of mission changes, flight safety adjustments, and shipboard equipment anomalies led to USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully accomplishing all assigned test objectives.
When this first campaign concluded, she didn’t stop. Bahlman began preparing for Hopper missile firings. In this role, she oversaw the execution of an extensive weapon system readiness assessment for Hopper and a waterfront integration test, which verified proper interface functions between the ship’s BMD weapon system and the Standard Missile-3 Blk IB threat upgrade missiles.
Both May events involved 10-12 additional Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) personnel aboard the respective ships as part of test teams during each T&E event. Bahlman was the only member of the NSWC PHD workforce present for both. Her naval operational expertise and adept leadership led directly to the success of firing rehearsals, other range preparations, and ultimately to the two successful missile firings.
Moving on from this highly-successful event, Bahlman then assumed the role of lead test officer for PD. PD is a trilateral BMD tracking event involving the U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and Republic of Korea (ROK) navy.
Bahlman managed Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) and joint/foreign interoperability objectives for the exercise. Meeting these objectives was critical to implementing the Navy’s present and future integrated air and missile defense mission, which furthered the development of maritime regional BMD capability and capacity between the JMSDF, the ROK navy, and the U.S. Navy.
Bahlman received recognition for her efforts while back at PMRF for another T&E event, Jan. 23. Rear Adm. J. R. Wolfe, program executive for Aegis BMD, presented her with a Joint Service Achievement Medal (JSAM) for the three T&E campaigns May 1-June 30.
The JSAM is awarded to members of the U.S. military who distinguish themselves by outstanding achievement or meritorious service while assigned to a joint activity.
Bahlman was humble regarding her recognition.
“These missions involve large teams; I was just one of many,” Bahlman said.
During the time period, Bahlman expertly led and managed large test teams putting in long hours, managed operational schedule changes, equipment casualties, target preparations, shipboard logistics requirements, and campaign status requirements. Bahlman was consistently recognized by senior Department of Defense leaders present at PMRF as was seen as the primary reason for the tremendous success of the three multi-faceted BMD T&E campaigns.
Being a junior officer in an atmosphere crawling with high-ranking personnel opened Bahlman’s eyes to a different world, but she was up to the task.
“I was always the youngest in the room,” said Bahlman. “It was intense at first facing difficult technical questions on issues on the ship or casualties, I had to learn that [quickly] and work through those challenges.”
Her ability to foster a professional level of teamwork, her in-depth knowledge of the Aegis combat system, her mission planning skills and her naval operational acumen were instrumental to the successful execution of these historic missions.
Bahlman is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds a Master of Science in system engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. She reported to NSWC PHD October 2015.
Kevin Pollock, ballistic missile defense project manager, contributed to this story.
By Brian Melanephy, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division Public Affairs