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Battlefield-ready civilians: civilian employees deploying to a combat zone must take certain steps to prepare themselves and their families for the deployment.

In the early morning hours of 5 October 2005, the main body of Headquarters, 3d Corps Support Command, boarded chartered buses for the first leg of their deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among the group of more than 200 were 15 emergency-essential civilians (EECs) preparing to join 4 other civilians who had previously deployed with an advance party. Deploying to a combat zone presents specific challenges to civilian employees. This article, based on the experience of those civilians, should prove useful to Federal civilian employees who may deploy to combat zones in the future.

Civilian Guidelines

EECs are Department of Defense civilian employees who perform specific battle tasks during a mobilization. Although most deployed civilians hold positions designated as EEC, non-EEC employees may provide short-term wartime support on a temporary duty basis. Any civilian performing work in a combat zone, regardless of previous position designation, becomes an EEC for the period of his deployment and is therefore subject to all regulations governing the deployment of civilian personnel.

Generally speaking, deployment, or short-term assignment, of civilians to a combat zone should be considered only when--

* The specific skill set required for mission accomplishment is not readily available in the uniformed force.

* A civilian position cannot be converted to a military position without interrupting critical combat operations.

Unlike military personnel, deployed civilians are noncombatants and are not entitled to certain military benefits, such as tax-free earnings while serving in a combat zone. However, deployed civilians receive danger pay and foreign post differential as required by Department of State regulations. They also are issued, or reimbursed for, military uniforms, granted post exchange privileges, and authorized military medical care while serving in a temporary duty capacity in designated combat zones.

Before the Army's involvement in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, regulations on civilian deployment were vague because most civilian deployments had been to relatively secure long-term assignments at semipermanent military bases in Kosovo and the Balkans.

Because of its growing dependence on civilians to accomplish missions effectively, U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) published guidance in 2005 governing the deployment of civilians. This guidance includes Army in Europe (AE) Regulation 690-47, Civilian Personnel Deployment and Redeployment, and AE Pamphlet 690-47-1, Civilian Deployment Handbook, which provide the most recent requirements for preparing for civilian deployment.

Preparation

Whether serving in EEC or non-EEC positions, civilians must ensure that their personal affairs at home station are in order and that specific predeployment and training requirements are met before they depart. They must complete a number of regulatory tasks, including medical examinations, equipment issue, and predeployment military training, including chemical warfare training, first aid, Soldier field survivor tasks, and a Geneva Conventions familiarization course. Specific predeployment requirements may differ from one command to another. Civilian employees serving in EEC positions should have previously completed all of these requirements. Non-EEC employees who are volunteering to deploy in an EEC capacity should begin basic EEC training requirements as soon as they are notified that deployment is imminent.

Training is the cornerstone of deployment preparedness. However, having the appropriate equipment plays an equally important role in preparing for deployment. Units should issue deploying civilians protective masks and hoods and protective overgarments for chemical agent exposure. Employees must use these items during chemical warfare training and include them on their deployment packing list. After their command issues a memorandum authorizing them to draw military uniforms and equipment, civilian employees should visit the central issue facility to receive organizational clothing and individual equipment, including protective vests, sleeping bags, duffel bags, and Kevlar helmets. They also are required to draw a desert camouflage uniform and desert combat boots.

Deploying civilians are authorized up to $400 reimbursement per fiscal year for expenditures for military clothing not issued by the central issue facility. This reimbursement covers purchases of t-shirts, socks, and other items bought at the post military clothing sales store that are needed to complete deployment outfitting.

Shortly before deployment, the community medical clinic conducts a predeployment medical examination for each deploying civilian. This medical examination will be used to determine any pre-existing conditions or medical issues that require attention before departure.

Commands will hold a predeployment processing (PDP) event 30 to 60 days before each deployment. PDPs provide a one-stop opportunity to finalize predeployment requirements. Representatives from the community legal office, medical clinic, civilian personnel office, and command will be on hand to assist with powers of attorney, wills, vehicle registration, immunizations, beneficiary forms, and last-minute training requirements. PDP attendance is mandatory.

Civilians deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom are not authorized to carry weapons. Although deployed civilians are designated as noncombatants, service down range has its share of risk. Civilian employees are encouraged to update personal life insurance policies, legal authorization documents, and financial investments before they deploy. Federal beneficiary forms covering the Thrift Savings Plan, unpaid compensation, the retirement system, and Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance should be updated with a civilian personnel advisory center representative.

Civilian employees must register in the Civilian Tracking System and the Emergency Contact Data System before they deploy and should regularly update those systems with changes in location, contact information, or expected deployment dates. Their servicing civilian personnel advisory centers can provide assistance with either system.

Professional Development Opportunities

Deployed civilians have a unique opportunity to take advantage of their "captive" deployment time. Because the activities available during free time are limited, civilians are encouraged to participate in professional development training, such as the Supervisor Development Course, Manager Development Course, and Action Officer Development Course that are available on line through the Civilian Personnel Online Web site at http://cpol.army.mil/. Many universities have special arrangements with U.S. forces overseas and offer distance education coursework for students interested in pursuing associate's, bachelor's, or master's degrees. The Army Distance Learning Program Web site, www.aimsrdl.atsc.army.mil/secured/accp_top.htm, offers training in specific occupational areas and can provide refresher and introductory training in occupational areas unrelated to a civilian's career code.

In any 6-month period, students may earn as many as 16 credit hours at participating colleges and universities through various online programs and up to 80 hours of Army classroom training and continuing education credits.

Career Management

A deployed civilian often performs slightly different tasks in a deployed environment than he does at home station. For this reason, it is important that the employee and his supervisor develop a clear set of performance standards for the job that the employee will be performing while deployed. A civilian employee who deploys should take advantage of the opportunity to let his deployment experience address his outstanding service. When writing accomplishments at the end of the rating period, he should highlight the time spent deployed and clearly identify any leadership abilities and extra responsibilities he assumed during the deployment.

Deployment also might become a ticket to future employment opportunities. The Department of Defense automated civilian resume system, Resumix, should be updated with all deployment accomplishments and include points of contact outside of the employee's immediate chain of command that can be contacted to verify new skills and abilities. A good list of networking contacts is also helpful for future job searches.

R&R Opportunities

Special opportunities for rest and recuperation (R&R) travel may exist for civilians who deploy for a 1-year period. According to the current U.S. Central Command and USAREUR regulations on civilian deployment, the R&R program authorizes payment for all airline expenses for civilian employees to the location of their choice. Ticketing to the airport nearest the leave address is arranged in the theater of operations. However, the final decision about R&R eligibility lies with the theater commander. More information on R&R for civilians is available at the USAREUR Civilian Personnel Directorate Web site at www.per.hqusareur.army.mil/rr/details.htm or from a unit resource management representative.

Redeployment

Once a deployment is concluded, and before they are transported back to home station, employees must complete a postdeployment questionnaire and have a tuberculin skin test. As part of postdeployment processing, employees are required to receive followup medical examinations and a reading of the tuberculin skin test within a specified period of time. Employees will be instructed on specific procedures before departing for their home stations.

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Toward the end of their deployment, civilians should think about the upcoming redeployment and home station reintegration procedures. All deployed personnel are required to complete a postdeployment questionnaire that enables healthcare professionals to gauge their physical and mental health. Civilians should complete the questionnaires thoroughly and honestly since access to military medical treatment facilities at Government cost will be limited after they return from deployment. Medical conditions caused by deployment conditions should be well documented in the employees' military treatment facility records and post-deployment questionnaires before redeployment. Employees who feel that they have valid claims for continued medical compensation should speak directly with their servicing civilian personnel advisory center representatives.

Civilians and their family members arc encouraged to use the family resources available to them in their communities. Army Community Services, chaplain's offices, and military treatment facilities all employ professionals to assist returning employees with reintegration into their families. Information concerning civilian redeployment is available on the USAREUR Civilian Personnel Directorate Web site at www.per.hqusareur. army.mil/cpd/contingency_info/redeployment.htm

Civilian personnel deploying to a combat zone face a number of challenges that are different from those they face at home station. To prepare for these challenges, civilians must complete specific training and other preparations before they deploy. Knowing what they must do to prepare themselves and their families for deployment will help ease the deployment process.

KAREN B. KELLER-KAPPAUN IS ATTENDING THE DEFENSE COMPTROLLERSHIP PROGRAM AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY. SHE WAS THE CHIEF OF MANPOWER AND MANAGEMENT AT HEADQUARTERS, 3D CORPS SUPPORT COMMAND, IN WIESBADEN, GERMANY, WHEN SHE WROTE THIS ARTICLE. SHE HAS A B.A. DEGREE IN GERMAN STUDIES FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, AND A B.S. DEGREE IN LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS FROM PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY.
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Author:Keller-Kappaun, Karen B.
Publication:Army Logistician
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2006
Words:1682
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