Cultural Diversity: A Look at the Personnel Exchange Program

BY LT. JACOB MCMURTREY PERSONNEL EXCHANGE PROGRAM COORDINATOR, NAVSUP OFFICE OF SUPPLY CORPS PERSONNEL

Lt.j.g. Ricardo Elizalde & family in Sydney, Australia.

Lt.j.g. Ricardo Elizalde & family in Sydney, Australia.

Aligning with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson’s line of effort “to expand and strengthen our network of partners”, the Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) is enhancing integration with our Joint Service and interagency partners to plan for a better future for all. PEP provides for a one-for-one exchange between the United States Navy and personnel from other military services, including foreign services. The program objective is to incorporate participants into the host organization as though they belonged to the service to which they are assigned. Creating these strong partnerships all over the world provides officers the opportunity to share professional knowledge across continents and cultures.

Lt. Greg Easterling & Vera Willemse, Pinnacles National Park near Perth, Australia.

Lt. Greg Easterling & Vera Willemse, Pinnacles National Park near Perth, Australia.

Diversity is a Navy strategic imperative and every community strives to leverage diversity to spur creativity and innovation through a widened aperture of individual experiences. As the Office of Supply Corps Personnel (OP) Accessions Officer, I can attest to our community’s resolute efforts, as part of our accessions processes, to select future officers across the full spectrum of diversity cohorts. Beyond accessions, however, there is another area in which our community is focused as input for creative and innovative ideas—namely, our Supply Corps Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) officers. PEP officers are an invaluable resource that can leverage their diversity of thought as a result of foreign Navy and cultural immersion experiences.

NAVSUP OP constantly communicates with Supply Corps officers world-wide, keeping them abreast of the latest personnel guidance and policy changes while obtaining insight into what our community does on a daily basis providing global warfighting support. Within this personnel dialogue, the recent establishment of the NAVSUP Logistics Innovation Cell (LogIC) under the Secretary of the Navy’s Task Force Innovation initiative highlighted the opportunity to leverage our internationally assigned PEP officers as a channel for innovative ideas. The Commander, NAVSUP Rear Adm. Jonathan Yuen views the direct information flow from our PEP officers as a LogIC mechanism to identify innovative ways “to sustain and advance our military superiority for the 21st Century while improving Department of Defense business operations in an environment of fiscal constraint and uncertainty.”

Lt.j.g. Ricardo Elizalde’s son.

Lt.j.g. Ricardo Elizalde’s son.

According to OPNAVINST 5700.7H U.S. Navy Personnel Exchange Program (PEP), “[PEP] grew out of wartime interchange of staff personnel during combined operations and the necessity to exchange and standardize operational doctrine. The original concept was expanded to include technical and operational exchanges with foreign services, as well as with other U.S. military services.” Current PEP opportunities for Supply Corps officers include two billets in England, two billets in Australia and one billet in Brazil.

From left to right: Lt. Paul Mathiesen (PEP Canadian Navy), Jo-Anne Mathiesen, Chris Rennie (Civilian at Collins Submarine Program), Lt. Nathan Whitelaw (USN PEP), Caron Whitelaw, Lt. Roger Terry (USN PEP), Janet Changwony, Vera Willemse, Lt. Greg Easterling (USN PEP).

From left to right: Lt. Paul Mathiesen (PEP Canadian Navy), Jo-Anne Mathiesen, Chris Rennie (Civilian at Collins Submarine Program), Lt. Nathan Whitelaw (USN PEP), Caron Whitelaw, Lt. Roger Terry (USN PEP), Janet Changwony, Vera Willemse, Lt. Greg Easterling (USN PEP).

In Portsmouth, England, Lt. Cmdr. Eric Piskura is heavily involved in F-35 Joint Strike Fighter integration and interoperability on board Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers. His position demands frequent interaction with defense contractors and with senior Supply Corps and British Royal Navy leaders. In his spare time, Lt. Cmdr. Piskura has been invited to join the Royal Navy Tennis Team. To the west of Portsmouth lies the city of Cornwall, where Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Duke serves as an instructor for the Initial Logistics Officer course, which is the British Royal Navy equivalent to our Supply Corps Basic Qualification Course. Although similarities can be found in training topics, a British junior officer must also be well versed in law and administrative duties. Their first job can be a shore assignment in a legal cell comparable to a JAG office, or there is the possibility to serve as a Captain’s secretary where that officer may additionally serve as a legal advisor.

Diplomatic community volleyball tournament.

Diplomatic community volleyball tournament.

Western Australia is home to the city of Perth, where Lt. Greg Easterling resides and works alongside the Royal Australian Navy on Garden Island. Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world, but is known for its beautiful landscapes and unique charm. Lt. Easterling is primarily involved in inventory management with the Military Integrated Logistics Information System in support of the Collins Submarine Program. On the eastern coast of Australia, Lt.j.g. Ricardo Elizalde works in the Non-Regional Operations cell in the city of Melbourne. Lt.j.g. Elizalde provides high priority logistics support while tracking demand signals from seventy action agencies to the Middle East Region. Additionally Lt.j.g. Elizalde assists with various international exercises and operations such as Northern Trident and Pacific Assist. Ricardo’s family is enjoying the rich sports culture in the city and taking advantage of observing some of Australia’s unique wildlife.

South America is where Lt. James Kevern serves as the logistics liaison officer at the Brazilian Navy Inventory Control Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the challenges at this location is the language barrier, with Brazil being the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. Before being detailed to this location, officers must meet the Defense Language Proficiency Test minimum requirement and once detailed, attend training at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California prior to reporting. Lt. Kevern has served numerous times as an interpreter for foreign delegations and many of our former Brazil PEP officers have had frequent interaction with the Chief of the Brazilian Supply Corps. Being located in one of the most populated cities in the world, Lt. Kevern has had the opportunity to interact with an eclectic group of foreign officers. He is a founding member of the first diplomatic community beach volleyball tournament hosted by the team from the U.S. Consulate.

Lt. James Kevern and the diplomatic community beach volleyball tournament participants.

Lt. James Kevern and the diplomatic community beach volleyball tournament participants.

We rely on our Supply Corps PEP officers to represent the Navy Supply Corps abroad, to be self-sufficient and to continually look for new ways to tie their experiences into disciplines from which the Supply Corps and the Navy can benefit. For example, through recent collaboration between Lt. Kevern and NAVSUP OP, the Brazilian Navy is exploring their own program that mirrors our Training with Industry program. Additionally, we are looking at the Brazilian Navy’s Center for Systems Analysis as an example for pulling research ideas and solutions from collaboration with major universities. Collectively, our PEP officers frequently find themselves involved in contract management, inventory control, and bi-lateral multinational operations and exercises in roles that few other billets in the Supply Corps can offer.

Today, PEP is viewed by Supply Corps leadership as an incredible opportunity to serve in exciting geographically and culturally diverse locations—learning how to fight alongside and integrated with our partner allies. These officers and others who have previously served in high-visibility PEP billets use this unique opportunity to expand their knowledge of global military logistics operations and gain experience through a program that fosters innovation and cultural diversity. If this article has sparked your interest and you believe you are a good fit for the PEP experience, please contact the NAVSUP OP Lieutenant Shore/Overseas Detailer when you are within your orders negotiation window.

January/February 2016