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Don't Tarnish Loyal Army Civilians

Thursday, November 16, 2017

We don’t dispute Col. (Ret) Stanley A. Murrell’s right to his opinion or personal experience when it comes to DoD civilians [ARMY December 2017 letter, Cuts Come from Lower Tiers] but ours is entirely the opposite.

The vast majority of civilians we encountered over our careers, including many of whom served time in the military themselves, were every bit as patriotic, technically proficient, dedicated, loyal, selfless, professional and ready to go above and beyond to meet the mission as the military they supported. 

Today, there is simply no way soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can perform their duties successfully around the globe without the strong backbone of Defense Department civilians supporting them every step of the way.  Our nation’s military success depends in large measure on the daily commitment of DoD civilians readying equipment at our depots, keeping military bases secure, improving the lethality of weapons in laboratories, maintaining training ranges, developing military intelligence assessments, transporting Soldiers and their equipment and so much, much more.

In fact, many DoD civilians deploy overseas and serve in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as South Korea, Europe and Africa.  They go because of a call to duty and desire to support those who serve all of us.

Defense civilians are only paid for 40 hours of work each week, though we have witnessed many working nights and weekends simply because the mission needed to get done and they loved being able to serve.

Yes, the ever-expanding bureaucracy does need to be tamed, though we should not forget that the growth of the civilian force in recent years is a result of a conscious decision to replace military members with civilians in certain, non-warfighting occupations, freeing our armed forces to focus on vital military duties.

Please do not tarnish the incredible loyalty and devotion of our civilian force by citing the actions of a handful.  Perpetuating the myth that incompetence is tolerated because civilians are not disciplined and cannot be removed is not helpful at best and untrue at worst. 

We will always be proud of our service as Army Civilians and will always be admirers of the talented and dedicated civilians we had the privilege to observe, know and work with.

 

Philip E. Sakowtiz, Jr.
Vice Chairman for Civilian Affairs
Association of the U.S. Army

John B. Nerger
Chair, Army Civilian Advisory Committee
Association of the U.S. Army

Diane Devens
Donald C. Tison

Senior Fellows, Institute of Land Warfare
Association of the U.S. Army