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DoD Moves Toward Civilian Expeditionary Capability

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2008 – The Defense Department is moving forward with setting up a global expeditionary force for civilian employees, a senior Pentagon personnel official said yesterday.

Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, said operations in Iraq and Afghanistan pointed to the roles DoD civilians can play.

“In the past, there were many situations and job opportunities that we have just routinely relied on the military to do, or we have turned to a contractor,” she said.

But DoD civilian employees have played crucial roles in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “At the end of the day, when you look at the duties that need to be performed in theater -- and particularly as the [security] situation becomes more permissive -- it provides opportunities for DoD civilians to serve,” she said.

More than 16,000 DoD civilians have served in U.S. Central Command’s area of operations since 2001, officials said. They have served as engineers, logistics specialists, weapons inspectors, administrative specialists and on provincial reconstruction teams.

“They have demonstrated the value civilians can give to theaters like Iraq and Afghanistan,” Bradshaw said.

Even more opportunities exist now for civilians to serve. As the coalition works to help the Iraqi and Afghan governments to develop their defense ministries, more civilians are needed to serve as advisors to their counterparts, she said.

Dod civilians have a desire to serve, Bradshaw noted. The State Department asked DoD for help in filling slots in provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq. The solicitation for the 100 slots went throughout the department, and more than 1,500 DoD civilian employees sent in resumes. This demonstrated many DoD civilians would rise to the occasion to serve if they could, Bradshaw said.

“We filled those jobs, and we saw the increased demand for DoD civilians, yet we did not have an infrastructure to support that,” she said.

To rectify that, David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, issued a memorandum Feb. 12 titled, “Building Increased Civilian Deployment Capacity.” That memorandum laid the groundwork for the expeditionary civilian work force and put rules in place.

“The first is if we advertised a position and a civilian volunteered, then that DoD civilian should be released to serve,” Bradshaw said.

This will be tested as individual augmentee positions – normally filled by servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan – begin to be filled by civilians. A total of 157 positions are open.

“Our goal is to get DoD civilians to volunteer for these opportunities,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s not only good for accomplishing the mission, but [also] for building an individual’s portfolio for the future, [when] this kind of experience will become ever more important.”

The idea is to have a cadre of civilians who can respond to long-term opportunities and to crises such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and so on, she explained.

“We’re creating an infrastructure that can respond to needs around the globe, and that includes civilian capability,” Bradshaw said.

The jobs are temporary assignments with most for a year, but some for six months. Civilians deploying to the region will receive not only cultural and language training, but also force protection training, and must meet medical requirements, she said. When the assignment is over, local installations must ensure civilian employees return to the jobs they left or similar ones.

“One of the objectives when we set up our expeditionary work force is we need to have a ready, cleared and trained work force that can respond on a dime like our military does,” she said.

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