Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is encouraging more civilians to deploy to Afghanistan in a video message posted to the Department of Defense homepage over the weekend.

Afghan Security Forces will soon be taking over control of more areas of the country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced last week that security forces would soon be taking over seven areas around Afghanistan as a first step toward the goal of having Afghan forces in charge across the country by 2014. The areas slated for immediate transition include stable regions that have seen little to no fighting. More dangerous regions around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and those known as insurgent strongholds will remain under NATO control.

Gates encouraged DoD leaders to encourage and promote overseas opportunities within their staff, and also thanked civilian employees who have already deployed. Gates noted that this is a critical time in Afghanistan, and a successful transition will require civilians from across the government to participate, and especially those with skills in operations, governance, intelligence and engineering.

More information about opportunities and requirements for civilian overseas deployments are at the Civilian Expeditionary Workforce website. The site outlines pay, working and living conditions, medical care and other concerns those considering overseas positions might face. Gates’ remarks encouraged current DoD employees to consider overseas opportunities but positions are also available for individuals not currently working for the federal government. Most positions require a secret or top secret security clearance.

While monetary incentives are a significant attraction for overseas combat positions (federal pay limits for civilians serving in combat zones were raised in April), Gates cited the ability to truly make a difference as a reason to encourage young civil servants to consider deployments in support of military operations.

“I often tell young people who volunteer to serve that they have the chance to change the course of history," said Gates "Service in this critical mission may be your chance.”

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