By Kenneth FidlerMarch 21, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Korea (Army News Service, March 21, 2008) - The Pentagon's civilian personnel policy chief wants to create an expeditionary civilian workforce and encourages civilian employees to become more mobile in their careers.
Patricia S. Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy, spoke at a town hall meeting March 11 at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, Korea, about DoD policy initiatives.
"Culture and language exposure, broadening your perspective on global issues, and understanding our role in the global platform is important to be a leader in this Department of Defense," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw was in Korea with a group of civilians enrolled in the Executive Leadership Development Program.
"My legacy, I hope, will be to have put a stake in the ground about how we create a civilian expeditionary workforce that values the kind of service that our men and women in non-military uniforms are providing right next to our men and women in uniform in the AOR," she said. "This is one of the most important initiatives for me."
She said DoD created a Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, designed after the military version, to be awarded to civilians who serve in GWOT-deployed locations.
Recently, 15 medals were presented in a ceremony at the Pentagon to represent the 16,000 civilians who have served at GWOT-deployed locations to date.
Currently, 5,700 civilian employees are deployed supporting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations around the world.
Bradshaw visited Iraq in September, and the feedback from deployed civilians resulted in changes to DoD policies giving greater protection to civilians who want to deploy.
"I spent a week there, and was horrified to learn some of things going on with our civilians," she said.
She cited a case in which an employee volunteered for a position in Iraq but management made it difficult for the employee to leave.
"It is (now) a matter of policy that if a civilian employee applies for a job in theater, if the manager chooses to deny that opportunity, it has to come to me personally, and I have to know why," Bradshaw said. "And lack of budget is not an acceptable excuse. If we do not understand the secretary of Defense, the president's and this country's No. 1 priority, then we're probably working in the wrong department."
She added that some civilians employees who volunteered to serve in theater were forced to quit and take temporary appointments.
"We have had people who actually were so committed to go and serve, that they resigned their jobs, giving up 20 and 25 years of career service to go take a temporary job in theater with no promise of a return job," she said. "That, too, has been fixed."
Civilians have a lot to contribute to GWOT missions, she said.
"It's important," Bradshaw said, "to have an opportunity to go and serve and to have that experience valued when they come back."
(Kenneth Fidler serves with the USAG-Yongsan Public Affairs Office.)