Guam, Puerto Rico, Florida, Hawaii, and Galveston all sound like great locations for your average beach goer to sit back and relax while enjoying the sun, sand, and water. But for members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District, each of these locations have been anything but a walk along the beach.
Whether deploying to support natural disaster relief efforts or supporting Army units and other governmental and non-governmental agencies, there are several opportunities to deploy within Fort Worth District.
From Project Delivery Teams, Field Force Engineering, Expeditionary Civilian Coordination Office, and the Army Expeditionary Civilian Workforce, somewhere there is the right career broadening opportunity for you.
Members of USACE have deployed in support of floods, hurricanes, typhoons, wildfires, and other natural disasters in the continental United States and overseas. In some cases, district personnel deploy to a disaster as part of federal operational support and are one of the first to arrive on the scene to assist.
“District personnel have deployed across the United States and its territories, to include the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam,” said Jeff Mahaffey, Fort Worth District Chief of Emergency Management and Security Branch. “Anywhere there have been natural disasters, we have been there.”
From initial damage assessments until people return to their homes, district personnel can be on the scene from cradle to grave of any recovery effort, such as is the case with the Maui wildfires this last August.
“You will find USACE personnel deployed to support public works and engineering for Presidentially declared events,” said Mahaffey. “These are disasters where the Federal Emergency Management Agency is active in assisting response and recovery efforts. We are not only the Army’s and the Nation’s premier Engineer, but we are also known as ‘FEMA’s Engineer’.”
Beyond natural disasters, deployments may be in support of Army units or governmental and non-governmental agencies deployed at home or overseas. Teams can be deployed for technical support and construction services to build anything from roads to hospitals.
One such program where the Corps of Engineers has technical capabilities that bridge the gap between warfighters, and the specialized capabilities that are needed, is the Field Force Engineering program.
“Military units don't always have the technical expertise so a lot of times we need structural engineers, electrical engineers, or mechanical engineers,” said James Williams, Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division’s FFE program manager. “All these jobs are within the Corps of Engineers, to include logisticians and environmental personnel. The average military unit doesn’t have a lot of these capabilities and even when they do, they don't have the experience.”
According to Williams, FFE provides agile, responsive technical engineering and contract construction support capabilities to combat commands and their Army components worldwide during contingencies, exercises, and peacetime engagement. The FFE also supports combat commands in the theater of operations by enabling forward deployed engineer assets to leverage stateside-based technical engineering centers through reach-back systems to installations worldwide.
“We’ll manage talent throughout the Corps of Engineers,” said Williams. “We typically start within our division, and then throughout the Corps of Engineers based on what our needs are.”
Along with the FFE program, the Expeditionary Civilian Coordination Office is tasked with managing the recruitment, staffing expertise and administrative deployment support necessary to execute military contingency missions staffed with civilians around the globe.
“ECCO provides consistent administrative and human resource guidance and ensures staffing solutions are provided to forward commands in an efficient and timely manner,” said Kay King, Chief, Deployment Administration Resource Team, a branch of ECCO. “The staff works diligently to provide forward commands, like the Transatlantic Expeditionary District, with volunteers who wish to deploy in support of contingency operations. These individuals possess the high-quality skill sets required to complete the USACE mission.”
Beyond deployments that support specific Corps of Engineers programs and projects, the Army Expeditionary Civilian Workforce is continually recruiting personnel in support of operations in the Army’s Central, European, African, and Southern Commands. Like the ECCO and FFE, deployments with the AECW are in direct support of Army military units deployed overseas.
Jonathan Celone, a senior project coordinator with the Fort Worth District, recently returned from a six-month deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
“Deploying with the AECW worked out excellent,” said Celone. “I picked up so many new skills, especially when it comes to facility maintenance. I worked in the Directorate of Public Works while I was over there. When working with Fort Worth District, I go out with various teams on facility condition assessments, one of the first groups that we reach out to at every installation is DPW. While on deployment, I directly worked with that group of individuals.”
According to the Department of Defense, the AECW allows civilians to apply capability, experience, and knowledge as a crucial part of helping DOD accomplish its mission abroad. Deployments with the AECW are typically six, nine, or 12 months in duration. Personnel deploying have the opportunity for great personal and professional growth.
“The AECW has a more diverse portfolio of requirements, occupationally and globally,” said Dianne Hibbs, a programs and policies specialist with the AECW. “The commands have their own deployment requirements, but they are typically limited to the primary mission skillsets of the organization (e.g., for USACE that is engineers). AECW has all types of positions available.”
Regardless, if the deployment opportunity is with the Corps of Engineers or AECW, deployments do provide career broadening opportunities not found while at home station. They also provide an opportunity to support our military forces and truly make a difference in matters of importance to national defense.
“If you want to become more involved, and help our fellow citizens recover from disaster events, or supporting our warfighters overseas, step up and help out,” said Mahaffey. “Now, more than ever, our societies are connected in terms of disasters, disaster response, and crisis management.”