By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 27, 2009 - The Defense Department is forming a civilian expeditionary workforce that will be trained and equipped to deploy overseas in support of military missions worldwide, according to department officials. The intent of the program "is to maximize the use of the civilian workforce to allow military personnel to be fully utilized for operational requirements," according to a Defense Department statement.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed Defense Department Directive 1404.10, which outlines and provides guidance about the program, on Jan. 23.
Certain duty positions may be designated by the various Defense Department components to participate in the program. If a position is designated, the employee will be asked to sign an agreement that they will deploy if called upon to do so. If the employee does not wish to deploy, every effort will be made to reassign the employee to a nondeploying position.
The directive emphasizes, however, that volunteers be sought first for any expeditionary requirements, before requiring anyone to serve involuntarily or on short notice. Overseas duty tours shall not exceed two years.
Employees in deployable-designated positions will be trained, equipped and prepared to serve overseas in support of humanitarian, reconstruction and, if absolutely necessary, combat-support missions.
The program also is open to former and retired civilian employees who agree to return to federal service on a time-limited status to serve overseas or to fill in for people deployed overseas.
Program participants are eligible for military medical support while serving in their overseas duty station.
All participants will undergo pre- and post-deployment medical testing, including physical and psychological exams.
Defense civilians reassigned from their normal duty to serve overseas will be granted the right to return to the positions they held prior to their deployment or to a position of similar grade, level and responsibility within the same organization, regardless of the deployment length .
Families of deployed Defense Department civilian employees shall be supported and provided with information on benefits and entitlements and issues likely to be faced by the employee during and upon return from a deployment.
Defense civilian employees who participate in the expeditionary program shall be treated with high regard as an indication of the department's respect for those who serve expeditionary requirements.
Expeditionary program participants' service and experience shall be valued, respected and recognized as career-enhancing.
Participants who meet program requirements would be eligible to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism.