Engineer called up to help rebuild Afghan army
May 11, 2012
At the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, Michael Richman is director for systems within the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate. He's responsible for planning, management and execution of advanced technology and system demonstration of missile components and systems. But his responsibilities as a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserves currently have his "boots on the ground" in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A native of Anderson, Ind., Richman joined AMRDEC in December 2006. His primary focus is science and technology, research and development for new missile systems to provide advanced capability in the areas of protection, fire support, ground tactical and aviation missile systems.
In addition to civilian responsibilities with the Army, Richman has had a 15-year career in the Navy Reserves through the Navy's direct commission officer program.
In late May 2011, he received a phone call from the Navy Reserve Engineering Duty Officer community manager, informing him that he was being involuntarily recalled to active duty to support Operation Enduring Freedom in Kabul for 330 days. In November, he participated in Navy individual augmentee combat training at Fort Jackson, S.C., where for three weeks the Army trained nearly 250 Navy officers and enlisted on basic combat skills, convoy operations, combat first-aid, improvised explosive device detection, land navigation and law of war.
Richman arrived in Kuwait around Dec, 20. From there, he and three other Navy engineers traveled to Camp Eggers, Kabul, arriving on Christmas Eve.
This is Richman's first deployment, and he said it has been very different from his formal Navy training and reservist duties. His current reserve assignment is as the director for the Disruptive Technology Wargame effort within the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Development). Previous reserve assignments have included tours of duty as commanding officer with Naval Sea Systems Command Bangor and Miami SURGEMAIN units, Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a project superintendent for guided missile cruiser and 688 attack submarine overhaul and repair, special projects officer with the Naval Sea Systems Command Ship Technology Directorate, theater nuclear warfare program management support unit, and department head coordinating Navy Reserve support to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center Amphibious Assault Ship waterfront operations.
In Afghanistan he is chief of integration for the Engineering Directorate within the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. The command is building $10 billion worth of infrastructure for the 195,000-member Afghan National Army and 157,000-member Afghan National Police force throughout the country. In addition, 3,500 facility engineers and tradesmen are being trained to operate the ANA and ANP bases as the coalition handover occurs.
"Serving in a land-locked country supporting infrastructure development and training for the Afghanistan National Security Force is a bit of a departure" from his previous assignments, Richman said. "Specifically, I'm working with the ISAF Joint Command, U.S. Forces Afghanistan and coalition partners to coordinate the ANA/ANP buildup with the strategic drawdown of operational forces as the mission shifts to training the Afghans."
Back here in Huntsville are Richman's wife, Jennifer, who is also an AMRDEC engineer in Weapons Development Integration, and his three sons, 10-year-old Jacob, 8-year-old Luke and 7-year-old James. "I miss my wife and three boys tremendously but am comforted by the fact that we are a part of something much bigger than any individual, providing a future of hope for the people of Afghanistan," Richman said.
"I am proud to serve alongside the best and brightest Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines here at Camp Eggers. Each and every day I stand in the shadow of so many men and women who are sacrificing more than I in service to their country providing not only security for our great nation but peace for the Afghan people."