FORT LEE, Va. (Nov. 17, 2016) -- Captains and majors looking to get a leg up on professional development need to look no further than the Training with Industry program offered by the proponency branch of their respective schools.
Lt. Col. Charlie Fisher is the chief of the Office of the Quartermaster General at CASCOM, and he and his staff handle the proponency aspects of the quartermaster career field, where they make sure slots are filled with the right people. They also coordinate career maps and credentialing for QM Soldiers.
Fisher and his office are spearheading an initiative to reinvigorate the quartermaster TWI program. As a former participant, he said he found it invaluable for his career and hoped other officers would look into the program.
“In 2005, I went into the TWI program, and I had no idea how much they were going to hurt my head,” said Fisher of the intense coursework. “The first thing they do in the program is put you in the Army Force Management School and they teach you how the Army works. I learned a lot about the business aspect of the Army and how the money flows and who has the authority to do certain things.”
After a month of learning about the interworking of the service, Fisher attended the Logistics Management Institute in McLean – a nonprofit thinktank of sorts that does government consulting. He said it helped teach him to solve big picture issues in the Army.
“The perspectives and way of thinking coming out of TWI – along with the utilization tour where you get to see something operational or strategic in higher headquarters – really helped give me a distinct advantage when I returned to the tactical force,” he said. “They taught me to trace problems back to the root.”
Fisher said the program sets officers up for success and many of them get selected for the Battalion Command Selection list, which only takes the top 20-25 percent of all officers.
“TWI gives you a different perspective. It gives you a broader strategic view, and I believe that strategic view turns into success as a major doing key developmental jobs,” he said. “As far as the battalion command selection list or battalion command, it gives you a competitive advantage, because you understand the bigger picture. Nine times out of 10, if you can understand the intent higher than you, you’re going to be successful.”
Around 16 officers are selected for this program annually, with about four being selected from the QM School, Ordnance School, Transportation School and Logistics Proponency office.
“To be chosen, you have to come out of company command doing very well,” said Fisher. “It’s a very selective process.”
Col. Karen Wrancher, now serving as the branch chief for preliminary investigations at the U.S. Army Inspector General Agency, was selected for the program in 2002 and also went through LMI, although there are several different programs used each year. She said she gained valuable knowledge during it.
“I learned the success of our military is not only based on the kinetic fight but also the great tacticians who could envision the entire operational theater. You need time to just stay still and think,” she said. “It’s important to think about how logistics and timing as well as when critical supplies arrive have an impact on the outcome of a battle and war. I also learned about the military industrial complex and how requirements and needs of our sister services are connected to companies that we need to galvanize resources if and when we need to surge our forces at time of war or conflict.”
The opportunity was a blessing, said Wrancher.
“I learned about force design, acquisition, budgeting and so much more,” she said. “When I did my follow-on assignment at J-4 in the Pentagon, I understood the terms senior leaders used and how the Army runs.”
Lt. Col. Brian Olson, who attended the program in 2004-2005, said the program absolutely helped him get a leg up on others.
“This unique broadening opportunity set the foundation for my success on the Army Staff at the G-4, Headquarters Department of the Army, and the Joint Staff in writing joint doctrine, as well as theater operational positions such as in International Security Assistance Force headquarters as the executive assistant to the Commander ISAF’s operations officer,” said Olson, who currently works as the senior sustainment observer/controller at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
He also said he appreciated the scope of opportunities offered.
“Some of the most valuable training included the Army Force Management Course – “How the Army Runs” – working with program managers and program executive offices on logistics technologies, blueprinting procedures for our new enterprise resource planning tool, working with former senior logistics officers in the Pentagon or supporting current programs,” he said. “The program provided broadened perspective of the Army and DOD’s strategic force management structure and methods, acquisition processes, current and future logistics information systems, and the inner workings of our budgeting and resourcing cycle within the Pentagon.”
Wrancher – who previously served as the chief of the Office of the Quartermaster – said the program is important for the QM Corps and its officers.
“Having participated in TWI and appreciating what I learned as an Army professional was a critical factor in knowing how to reinvigorate the QM slots for officers,” she said. “TWI enables young officers to truly start to see and understand the Army and what we do on a strategic level.”