Staff Sgt. Amber Emery
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – “It would be inconceivable to think we could complete our mission without the great support of all the civilian employees and volunteers (who) are out here with us,” said Col. David Clark.
“We certainly wouldn’t have been able to achieve the results that we have achieved without their dedication and skills that they bring to the fight,” continued Clark, Multinational Division – Center deputy commanding general for Title 10.
Since the beginning of the conflict here, civilians worked alongside service members on the battle field — facing many of the same dangers and hardships as their co-workers in uniform.
“I think that even from the very outset of conflict, having those types of technicians to fix helicopters, weapons systems and technical equipment made us realize it is an important asset to have with us,” Clark said. “It gets our equipment repaired and back to us quickly, and it also helps to train our own mechanics … so that they can make these repairs.”
Civilians help to satisfy the huge logistical requirement to support Soldiers. There are more than 300 civilians working in MND-C.
“Civilians contribute to everything from doing laundry, to feeding, to making sure the repair parts get here, to making sure the lights come on when you turn the light switch on,” Clark said. “In order to do that with just Soldiers, the size of our Army would be so large it would be beyond supportable.”
According to Clark, many of these civilian employees are former Soldiers, either retired or having left the service but wishing to contribute in a different way. They bring valuable skills to the table.
“I have been to Afghanistan three times with 10th Mountain Division, and now I am here in Iraq. Actually this is my seventh deployment and the fourth since I retired,” said Raymond Dalinsky, MND-C safety director and retired sergeant major. “I have been shot at more as a civilian than I did in 24 years in the Army. Our job is just as dangerous as the Soldiers who work beside us. Really, you could say we just didn’t retire.”
There are many different types of civilian workers in MND-C; appropriated and nonappropriated Department of the Army and Department of Defense civilians as well as contractors.
“The ones most people think of when they think of civilians is the Department of the Army or Department of Defense civilians, and those are normally called general service employees,” Clark said. “Generally, back at Fort Drum, the DA employees work at the Commons or (Family and) Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities and are considered nonappropriated fund employees; and the type you see processing identification cards are the appropriated fund employees, but they are all government employees.”
Just as there are several types of GS employees, there are numerous types of contractors working in MND-C.
“There are various different kinds of contractors from Kellogg, Brown and Root, who we see here a lot on Victory Base Complex; contractors (who) run and fix our computers; contractors (who) give us training, whether it’s in predeployment or post deployment activities and other types of people and companies that are hired to deliver services,” Clark said.
Generally, those who work outside Victory Base Complex on a regular basis, such as safety personnel, will be in a military-style uniform such as Army Combat Uniform or Desert Battle Dress Uniform. Other civilian personnel, such as contractors, do not.
“There are policies, of course, for the proper wear of the uniform by DoD civilians,” Clark said. “Ultimately ... the local commander can, within certain parameters, set the uniform wear policy in order to best meet mission requirements.”
The mobilization and deployment process for civilians depends on their type of employment. If it is a DA civilian or a contractor from the United States, they conduct training that ensures they know how to wear protective gear and how to defend themselves if required; they also will need some of the same type of training Soldiers receive, in terms of understanding cultural awareness.
“There is definitely some training involved,” Clark said. “We want them prepared as much as they can be for the type of environment in which we put them.”
No matter the type or position of a civilian worker in the theater of operations, all undergo a majority of the same adversities as the service members beside them.
“They are also away from their families and enduring some hardships as well as us, but they are doing it for the right reasons,” Clark said. “They believe in the cause, and they believe in what they are doing here.”