Extreme testing in Norway and Spain - Thomas Stork

Extreme testing in Norway and Spain - Thomas Stork

  • People
  • Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support

Mr Thomas Stork, 58 years of age, is a civil servant working at the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) and is responsible, among other things, for field kitchens, which he tests under extreme conditions before they are handed over to the troops.

Thomas Stork has been working in the Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (AIN) organization and its predecessor organization for over 20 years. After completing his university studies in electrical engineering, his career path first took him to the Bundeswehr Technical Center 41 in Trier. There, he devoted his efforts to the digitalization of vehicles, among other things. In 2004, Mr Stork transferred to the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement, which then became BAAINBw in 2012. There he works within the area of camp technology for Branch U3.1. In the following interview, he will tell us about the experiences he has made within the Bundeswehr and explain to us in detail what he is working on.

Mr Stork, what did you do before your civilian career with the Bundeswehr?

Before that, I was a temporary-career volunteer and worked, among other things, as a signaler and driving instructor in Mayen and Gerolstein. I have very fond memories of my eleven years of service. Working with a variety of different telecommunication and motor traffic devices made me realize that I wanted to study electrical engineering, which I then did at the University of Applied Sciences in Koblenz.

A man wearing glasses and a white-blue shirt is sitting in front of a computer in his office

In his office located at BAAINBw, Thomas Stork prepares the numerous tests so as to ensure that everything will run smoothly on-site

Bundeswehr

After that, I completed the career training for the higher intermediate technical service, which eventually allowed me to get the position of civil servant at the BAAINBw, formerly BWB.

And what is it that you currently do at BAAINBw?

Within Branch U3.1, I work on projects relating to water supply and wastewater disposal in camps, and also on field kitchen systems in general. The “Mobile Field Kitchen” project is what I have been mostly occupied with over the last few months. As the technical representative in the procurement process, I am, among other things, responsible for translating the requirements of the troops into technical specifications before implementation. In the subsequent trials I check whether the requirements laid down in the statement of work have been implemented as requested.

That sounds like a fascinating project! What do these tests look like?

Formally, the “Mobile Field Kitchen” is not one of the large-scale projects, but it is important nevertheless, because food is essential for each and every one of us. Or, as the troops like to say: “An army marches on its stomach.”

A wan wearing a hat and dark pants is standing in front of a camouflage-colored container

In the blistering heat of Spain, Thomas Stork experiences at first hand the extreme conditions the mobile field kitchen is exposed to during testing.

Bundeswehr

And in order to ensure that the troops’ kitchens work properly, we also cook in them prior to their operational use. In order to cover all contingencies, these trials are performed under near-operational conditions.

And “under near-operational conditions” means what exactly?

We test the systems to check whether they also work in extreme situations. The heat trials for example were originally supposed to take place in the Arizona desert. But due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we now performed the tests at the height of the summer in Spain at 46° C.

A man wearing glasses and a white T-shirt is sitting in front of a laptop

On-site testing often requires some sort of improvisation

Bundeswehr

For the cold-weather trials, we went to Norway early this year, to the regions beyond the polar circle. The temperatures drop to -30° C at that time of year. When the container system was frozen through and through for the first time, we for instance found out the next morning that the container doors were frozen shut because of the condensation water that had accumulated due to the temperature difference during cooking. You don’t really think of such scenarios when planning the project only from behind your desk, of course.

This showed us yet again how important these practical trials are to enable us to provide the troops with a functioning and, in this case, safe product.

What do you find particularly motivating about your job?

Seeing how a project keeps evolving and participating in it in an independent manner, but also the wide spectrum of tasks in our branch.

Branch U3.1 is responsible for procuring virtually anything: containers with camp technology in all variants, showers, sanitation facilities, washing machines, water preparation plants, furniture, musical instruments, sports equipment, tents, ladles, field kitchens of course, and so much more.

I will never get bored here. It is a challenging job that comes with a lot of responsibility.

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