Transitioning Military: Come for the Mission; Stay for the Team


Transitioning Military: Come for the Mission; Stay for the Team

Afghan Special Security Force — Training Program: Engility Five-Year Plus Employees Camp Morehead, Kabul, Afghanistan

I served in the U.S. Army for 29 years and retired at the end of 2010 as a U.S. Special Forces Sergeant Major (E9). For the past five years, I have been with Engility at Camp Morehead, Afghanistan. In that time, I have had two promotions with increases in compensation and responsibilities. I have seen several employees complete their yearlong contract, leave the company, and then return. I have also seen many who are serving multiple years. Why?

I believe it is the camaraderie of the team of professionals we have here on this program, that bond of belonging to an organization that is committed to its mission. The financial compensation, while fair, is not the overriding factor to our program's success with regards to employees. Remember, this assignment is overseas, unaccompanied, and in an active warzone. It is not for everyone, and certainly not a usual long-term career choice. Yet, we have over 17 employees out of our current 88-person program who have been on this program for more than five years, several with double that time.

I believe the company's reputation, its brand if you will, along with its fair financial compensation and benefits are part of what has attracted quality people to work for this program, but it is exactly that quality and the reputation of the professional employees that keep them here and coming back after short absences. Our program has a demonstrated continued growth over the past dozen years and our quality of service has cemented our enduring relationship as the program of excellence with our military clients through the teamwork of the company, the leadership, and our employees.

My Path

I worked as a government employee for about three years immediately after retiring but found the work a tad monotonous and not overly satisfying. In 2013, a former military colleague of mine reached out to me from the Engility program here at Camp Morehead. I had not heard of Engility at the time, but the offer was fair and the connection with former Special Forces colleagues convinced me to give Engility and contract work a try. I know many of my former Special Forces colleagues work for various contract companies around the world, and I spoke with some of them to gain some insight into the pros and cons of contracting, especially overseas military-related type work. I also knew a couple of Engility employees working on the program from the Special Forces community, which is a relatively small community, either personally or by reputation.

About 90% of our contract is made up of retired or former military personnel as they meet the skill sets, experience levels, and knowledge requirements demanded of our U.S. military client. Since joining the Engility team, I have been promoted twice, taking on more responsibility and enjoying my roles as mentor and advisor to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command.

Engility Transitioning Military Engility trainer with Afghan forces during live fire mortar shooting. Source: General John Campbell’s FB

What to Look For

A company or program is only as good as its employees. The company's continued financial investments in its workforce (through pay and compensation) and demonstrated caring commitment to its employees (through its policies and benefits) will help ensure it continues attracting and retaining quality personnel and, in turn, will almost assure continued growth and success.

Take care of your people and they will take care of you.

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Posted by Brad Adair

Initially, hired into a position on the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) Division G3 (Operations) team conducting Train, Assist, Advise, and Mentoring (TAAM) of various Division Staff Officers, I am now the ANASOC School of Excellence (SOE) Team Leader and Command Mentor and Advisor. The ANASOC SOE is the force generation school for all Afghan National Army Special Operations Forces, including Commandos, Special Forces, and National Mission Units.