By MCSN Michael Lopez
NPASE Detachment Southeast
Navy ships are warfighting machines managed by hundreds or even thousands of people working together. Millions of parts and pieces are needed to keep the ship and the crew operating, and at Naval Station (NAVSTA) Mayport, a Royal Australian Navy supply officer is in charge of making sure they have the tools they need.
Lt. Cmdr. Warren Lynch, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center, Jacksonville's logistics support officer leads the Logistics Support Center (LSC) at NAVSTA Mayport as part of the Personnel Exchange Program (PEP).
"I think the experience I'm getting here is absolutely great," said Lynch. "I'm responsible for making sure the ships home ported at NAVSTA Mayport have all their supply needs met, then I branch out to ships visiting the area before I start assisting in the 4th Fleet area of operations."
PEP allows selected Sailors to make a one-for-one exchange with personnel from another military service or foreign service. The program's objective integrates and enhances international and interservice relationships by providing exchange opportunities for officers and enlisted personnel.
Lynch didn't know much about PEP at first. He heard about it through word of mouth and thought about how great coming to the U.S. could be for his career and personal life, so he decided to apply.
"To get the position I had to put a package in," said Lynch. "Similar to how it's done here in the States, and myself and the other applicants were assessed on our past evaluations. You must be a lieutenant with some seniority, you must have completed two sea tours, and have experience in the functional areas pertaining to your job."
The job at NAVSTA Mayport is the only Lieutenant position the Royal Australian Navy has involved in PEP, but Australian Sailors have been occupying the job since 1990.
"The opportunity to live and work in the U.S. was the main reason I applied for PEP," said Lynch. "I was certainly looking to broaden my professional skills and work with Australia's biggest military partner, so I can understand the U.S.'s supply system and be more capable to work with them back home."
Logistics Specialist Senior Chief Larry J. McIntosh, the deputy logistics officer at (LSC) NAVSTA Mayport said getting a foreign officer settled in starts with finding common ground.
"Lynch has been the second Australian officer that I have had the pleasure of working with here at LSC," said McIntosh. "Giving him a little training on how the U.S. Navy does certain procedures is the biggest difference between working with Lynch and an American officer. Getting an understanding of how the Australian Navy works is a good starting point, so you can explain the differences."
Even though Australians and Americans both speak English, Lynch still had his own language barriers to overcome.
"The first four or five months were challenging because of not knowing the military language in terms of acronyms and the procedures, but once you get through that part, it's easy to suck up the rest of the information like a sponge," said Lynch.
Lynch said the hardest barriers to overcome when he moved to the U.S. were getting his life settled outside of work with things like housing and transportation.
"All of the things that should be pretty straight forward for the average adult were actually quite painful," said Lynch.
"As a foreigner moving to the U.S. for the first time, it's like you were born yesterday when it comes to your credit history even though you may have 30 years of credit history at home," he added. "You're starting fresh again when you come here."
McIntosh said Lynch hit the ground running and quickly became an asset to the logistics department.
"Once he settled in it was business as usual," said McIntosh. "Actually that's when operations and facilities took an upturn. He helped with several process improvements and facilities beautification upgrades. His personality has made the work environment a place that you want to come to work and do better."
One of Lynches biggest accomplishments with the U.S. Navy was when he led and executed logistics plans for the deployment of George Washington Carrier Strike Group (CSG-9) to the 4th Fleet area of operations in 2015.
He advocated U.S. Navy interests in Panama, Chile and Brazil while he navigated the complexities of various customs agencies and local logistics infrastructures. He was responsible for the clearing of customs and delivery of high priority supply demands worth approximately $11 million.
Lynch expressed his gratitude for being involved in sizeable operations and the ability to learn how a large navy operates.
"I value the professional experience the most," said Lynch. "I got to help with the movement of a whole strike group in an area of operations with limited Navy assets and I got to work with multiple agencies to get the job done. I got to learn and experience things that I'll likely never get to do again because of the sheer size of a carrier and the strike group.
He said he recommends service members who want to broaden their professional and personal horizons should consider looking into the PEP.
"This is a once in a life time opportunity to really experience another country and culture on a deeper level while still being in the military," said Lynch.
"It's one thing working with a partner nation on an exercise for a while, but being imbedded into a foreign military command, you really get to understand their people, systems, and culture far more than you would ever get on an exercise, he said."
The Navy currently conducts 208 exchanges with 20 foreign nations and 40 interservice exchanges with the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Navy participants receive foreign language training, if required, and normally serve two-year tours. One-year tour extensions may be authorized.
Sailors interested in PEP tours should contact their detailer. A full list of eligibility requirements and application procedures is outlined in Navy Military Personnel Manual 1306-921.