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Civilian employees play critical role in the Army’s success

Monday, April 29, 2019

Civilians have worked alongside our Army’s soldiers since the Revolutionary War. Initially, Army civilians were employed as clerks, skilled tradesman, physicians and unskilled laborers. Over time, as the Army’s missions have grown more complex and varied, so too have the positions that civilians occupy.

The Army Civilian Corps is one of the largest and most effective elements within the Department of Defense. Today, more than 250,000 men and women work in Army Civilian Service and perform myriad professional, technical and administrative occupations at various operational levels and in 28 countries around the world.

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Without Army civilians as part of our Army Profession, the ability to accomplish the Army’s evolving missions would be seriously impaired, the author says. (U.S. Army/Amy Christopherson)

Today, Army civilian talent is found in 31 broad career programs comprised of more than 540 talent and skill specialties. These careers include engineering, medical, science, technology, mathematics, contracting, cyber security, administration, and many, many more.

Filling these civilian positions with the best talent relies on a variety of approaches that includes competitive recruitment, political appointment, veteran- or military spouse-focused recruitment, and special appointment authorities for disabled individuals. Similar to the ranks in our military, the range of civilian service spans GS-2 through GS-15 and at the Senior Executive Service level.

Army civilians are committed to serving our Army, not just by being employees of the federal government but also by promising to support our nation through an oath that is very similar to that of our Army soldiers:

“I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Without Army civilians as part of our Army Profession, the ability to accomplish the Army’s evolving missions would be seriously impaired, and by extension, national interests would not be adequately served.

To learn more about our Civilian Corps and its amazing history, please visit: https://cape.army.mil/civilians.php.

Ellen Helmerson is chairwoman of AUSA’s Army Civilian Advisory Committee and a retired Army senior executive.