REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Wyatt Castle has traveled the world — first as a military child and then later as a Marine himself — and found the perfect fit at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.
Castle is an operations programs analyst for the Center’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate — better known as S3I. While he had been in that role for two years as a contractor, he recently moved to a similar government civilian position within the directorate.
“I assist with tours, events and help coordinate visits and such from the ground up,” Castle said. “Anybody that's coming into the S3I footprint, I usually have a hand on or will at least try to help organize in some way. Interacting with people from foreign nationals to generals to middle school students — showing them that what we do out here is unique and what an outstanding organization it is.”
What Castle did is commonly called “flipping badges” and it is a unique experience to those who work in the government sector. Castle was initially hired by a company who had an existing government contract with the Center to provide certain services. Of the more than 12,000 on the DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center team, roughly 9,000 are government contractors, with around 3,000 civil servants — and only 19 military members. It’s a common misconception that the center — and the Army as a whole — is primarily made up of uniformed service members, while the reality is that opportunities to serve the country come in all shapes and sizes.
What are the benefits to moving into civil service? For Castle, it was the opportunity to build a career within S3I, where as a contractor, one’s job could conceivably change — or end in some cases — with the changing of a contract.
“I chose to continue my career and go into government service due to an opportunity from the leadership that I had built a relationship with,” Castle said. “They continued to encourage me — and continue to encourage me — to take the next steps in my career and I couldn't see myself taking those steps anywhere else.”
Part of that learning and growing at S3I has included deciding where he wants to take his career. For that, Castle wants to draw on his experience living and serving overseas to serve the Center and work with its international customers.
“I was actually born in Adana, Turkey,” he said. “My dad is prior Air Force and prior Army, so we grew up overseas as he supported embassies all over the world. We lived in Germany and from Germany, we went to Harare, Zimbabwe. And then from there to Seoul, Korea. And then I went to high school in Michigan, so I call Michigan home — my American home. And then I joined the Marine Corps at 17, went to California and then I was stationed in Okinawa my whole-time in. From there I lived in Australia, Thailand and continued traveling to different locations training with foreign military forces.”
One doesn’t usually think of Alabama as multicultural but that is changing as Huntsville becomes one of the leading technological hubs in the nation. Castle said his neighborhood is becoming increasingly diverse, which is important to him and his wife, herself a Bavarian native, as they raise their two children.
“In my neighborhood we're friends with people from Korea, we're friends with people from India,” Castle said. “It is like growing up listening to 'Schoolhouse Rock' — the great American melting pot. That's how I always viewed the United States living overseas.”
Castle said that as he looks to his future as a civil servant, he hopes to become more involved in the international work that the Center does — an idea that took root after a briefing from Acting Director Dr. Jim Kirsch, who was advising new employees on the breadth of opportunities available.
“It is a part of my roots,” Castle said. “And it's such a unique upbringing that I felt for a long time that it was being wasted almost. I didn't know what to do with that part of my childhood, but now it makes sense because I have the opportunity to use it as I move forward in my career.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.