DoD civilians are serving alongside their warfighters.
As part of the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce (CEW), civilians are deploying overseas voluntarily to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
When all is said and done, an estimated 26,000 civilians will be part of the CEW.
Frank DiGiovanni, the Acting Director of Readiness and Training Policy and Programs for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, explained to Federal News Radio that having civilians deployed in support positions helps free up members of the military to be on the front lines.
“Primarily the role is to provide capabilities in functional areas,” said DiGiovanni, “where either the military may not have as much bench strength in, or where we can free up military personnel for combat duty.”
DiGiovanni said most of the positions are technical, such as contracting officers, engineers, and policy analysts. “There’s definitely a difference” from State Department civilians serving in theater, said DiGiovanni. State feds concentrate more on areas like governance or development.
While others may train for weeks or even months for deployment, the CEW trains for 10 days under a new program. The training covers everything the civilian might need to know from pay and benefits to being medically screened to learning about cultural differences and even which end of a weapon to point in case of emergency.
Since the CEW is kind of a new concept, many people in the military are not used to working with civilians who have deployed into a wartime situation, so we want to help the civilians better integrate quickly with their military counterparts.
While the curriculum is considered to be cutting edge for deployment training, Defense is learning quickly as well. DiGiovanni told American Forces Press that lessons learned from CEW will help formulate training policy across the entire department.
DiGiovanni said CEW participants are not required to be federal civil servants – anyone can apply for the one year deployments through USAjobs.gov or the CEW website.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.