Christopher Lowman, senior official performing the duties of the Army undersecretary, discusses the role Army civilians will play as the Army continues to modernize, during the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 13, 2021.
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Mark Lewis, senior official performing the duties of assistant secretary of the Army, speaks during a forum during the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 13, 2021.
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WASHINGTON — As the Army modernizes, it is essential that its 300,000 civilian employees maintain the skills necessary to support a multi-domain force, a top Army civilian said last week.

“Readiness is not all about Army units that are trained, equipped and manned to fight battles,” but also ensuring that its civilians are ready, said Christopher Lowman, senior official performing the duties of the Army undersecretary.

As part of modernizing and preparing the Army, the force will be “quick, lethal, and very mobile,” he said during the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 13. With that, however, comes the need for highly skilled, talented individuals to carry out the Army’s future.

“The Army’s at an inflection point as we look forward to what [a multi-domain operation] capable Army is required to do or will be required to do in the future,” Lowman said.

One question often posed to officials regarding the future is how the Army will build teams of civilians to accomplish the mission, said Mark Lewis, senior official performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs.

“Until recently, there has not been a clear definition to describe the Army civilian corps’ readiness to accomplish the mission or consistent metrics to assess civilian readiness,” Lewis added.

As part of the Army People Strategy, the Civilian Implementation Plan, which was announced last year, aims to modernize and transform the Army’s talent management approach.

The plan helps create a civilian corps that can transform the workforce, modernize how civilians are hired, develop career advancement programs, and create “world-class supervisors,” Lewis said.

Because the CIP is solely focused on Army civilians, it provides the Army with a civilian talent management strategy while also facilitating the transformation of infrastructure and government programs.

With the CIP, “the Army will [be] able to place the right civilian in the right job to support its Soldiers,” Lewis said. The plan also optimizes the vital contributions of Army civilians by modernizing talent management processes and policies and practices.

The plan also increases the Army’s ability to acquire, develop, employ, and retain civilian talent and ensure readiness. It provides strategic guidance to grow mission-critical occupations at critical-fill locations and defines career requirements to execute career development opportunities and training.

In addition to developing the right people, the Army must retain them as well, Lewis said. By doing so, the best talent can be kept to build a civilian corps capable of moving toward multi-domain operations at the same pace as the total Army.

“We all know the Soldiers do amazing things, but they can’t do them alone. And they’re not doing them alone,” Lewis said. “We must have talented and dedicated Army civilians to maximize the readiness capability, capacity and lethality of our Army.”

In the Army’s civilian ranks, lethality and readiness are just as important, Lewis said.

“We want you to recognize your unique skills and talents through a robust and rewarding career,” Lewis said. “While working for our nation’s defense, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be an Army civilian.”

Civilians will continue to be a key role in defending the nation in the future, he said.

Army civilians “provide the critical skills that the team needs,” Lewis said. “We are one Army [of] Soldiers and civilians, contractors, family members. We all serve the same great nation and we all work every day to provide the readiness that we need.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that our Army’s greatest strength is our people, [including] our civilians,” Lewis said. “Thank you for using your talents and your skills and most genuinely thank you for your passion for our Army and about how you go about your daily jobs in taking care of your people.”

Related links:

Army Civilian Implementation Plan

Army News Service

ARNEWS archives

AUSA 2021: Army Civilian Forum