By Dan Lafontaine, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering CommandSeptember 20, 2013
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Sept. 20, 2013) -- Spending two years immersed in the Australian defense science and technology community provided new perspectives for a U.S. Army engineer.
Steve Carrig said his work with the Australian military allowed tremendous access to end users -- Soldiers -- because of the country's smaller size.
"Having the chance to work with Soldiers on a more routine basis gives you a sense of who you're working for," said Carrig, who participated in the Army's Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program from July 2011 to June 2013 at the Defense Science and Technology Office. "Having spent two years in a more closely knit environment really drove it home.
"That's something that I won't forget. Even if I'm sitting here in an office every day, managing things from afar, it reminds me that's what I'm doing."
Mid-career level Army engineers and scientists can apply through ESEP to work with an American ally for a year with the possibility of an extension. Applicants may arrange for an assignment from a list of 17 countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Jason Craley, a member of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Global Technology Integration team, works with interested ESEP applicants and coordinates the packages before submitting them to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation. He said applications should be aligned to Army S&T objectives.
"The intent is to have someone come back from an assignment and be of benefit to the Army for many years to come with new experiences, insights and relationships gained abroad," Craley said.
While working at the DSTO's Human Protection and Performance Division, Carrig was on a team responsible for launching the Environmental Test Facility. At the ETF, the Australians use the Chemical Articulated Test Manikin, known as CARTMAN, to provide data on how the seams and interfaces of chemical-biological suits withstand human movements.
A chemical engineer with RDECOM's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center since 2005, Carrig said his background in testing and engineering complemented the expertise of his Australian colleagues, who were primarily scientists.
"When I got there, the chamber had just been commissioned, and I was trying to validate everything that was involved," he said. "My test experience played heavily for getting the chamber up and running for their programs. I was an engineer who was threaded into their team and gave them a slightly different way of approaching things."
Because of budget delays, Carrig did not see the project to fruition before his ESEP assignment ended. However, he gained experience from new types of work and saw tremendous value in his time with the Australian scientists and Soldiers.
"In Australia, as a product of it being a much smaller community, the Soldiers would come in and be involved," Carrig said. "Special Forces would come in routinely and train with our scientists. We would show them what we were working on with the suits and had conversations about our research.
"It also gave me a chance to work in a lab, which I had not really done. I had always been on the test and program management side. It let me get my hands dirty for a couple of years."
Now back home, Carrig is assigned to the Joint Program Manager for Nuclear Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance. He works on the Joint U.S. Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition program, where he oversees three prongs of equipment assessments in South Korea, Hawaii and APG.
Despite differences in the size of their militaries, Carrig saw similarities in each country's goals.
"[The United States and Australia] are trying to do the same thing with limited resources and provide the best we can for the Soldiers," he said.
Craley said the ESEP application requires four elements: a resume, a list of career-broadening objectives, a well-defined and thorough position description outlining the assignment, and an endorsement letter signed by a Senior Executive Service member or general officer. Language capability and a cost estimate are also required for the desired country.
Applicants are encouraged to apply for up to three countries in case their first assignment is not available.
RDECOM reviews and scores each application according to several criteria, including the applicant's educational and career background. A bachelor's degree in science or engineering is required to apply, and individuals with advanced degrees score higher.
The next application opportunity will be ESEP Group 11, which is expected to be released in April 2014, Craley said. Packages would be due to RDECOM GTI in early October 2014, with deployments beginning in August 2015.
For more information on ESEP, contact Jason Craley at (410) 278-8591 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC delivers it.