CASCOM hosts workshop for Training with Industry partners
June 18, 2014
FORT LEE, Va. -- The Combined Arms Support Command hosted 32 current and perspective civilian industry partners for a day-long workshop June 4. The purpose of the event was to discuss how the Training with Industry program could expand and improve for the Soldiers participating.
The Army's objective in sponsoring the TWI program is to develop a group of Soldiers experienced in higher level managerial techniques and who have an understanding of the relationship of their industry as it relates to specific functions of the Army.
"What we can't afford to do is have our future leadership not understand the business aspect of what we do," said Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general. "As we look at the landscape of what we will be facing over the next several years, we have to maintain the core competencies of warfighting, but at the same time understand how the Army runs from a business standpoint."
CASCOM is responsible for training over 185,000 students annually, through 541 courses taught by the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation schools, Soldier Support Institute and ALU. It is also a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The mission of CASCOM's TWI workshop was to enhance the strong relationships between the command and the partner companies. The goal was to identify "win-win" areas that could be improved and sustained within the program to ensure it remains relevant for both the Army and the respective industry partners for many years to come, Wyche added.
Over the course of the workshop, command representatives discussed the current Army operating environment and provided an overview of the command's sustainment leader development strategy as well as the role the TWI program plays in that. Another important discussion was on how the industry partners could support the Soldier for Life initiative to provide post service employment opportunities.
During a working lunch, four TWI alumni provided testimonials of their experience in the program. The group covered officer, warrant officer and enlisted opportunities.
"I was given the opportunity to receive my first chef level one certification during my TWI experience," said Staff Sgt. Justin. W. Gonzalez, Joint Culinary Center of Excellence Advanced Culinary Skills instructor and writer. "What the Army receives from my experience is they get all of the new insights and trends in the culinary arts. I have a head full of knowledge that I will be able to share."
Gonzalez spent his year of training at the Culinary Institute of America.
After lunch, the group proceeded into break-out sessions. This allowed the military and civilian partners to discuss topics related to their specific programs. The exchange of ideas was beneficial in identifying ways to improve and refine the TWI program.
At the conclusion of the workshop, the break-out groups shared their findings with the rest of the attendees. One of the significant takeaways was the TWI program's importance in developing strategic leader attributes within the officer corps. It was agreed TWI is one of the very few experiences a mid-grade officer may have that requires learning how to advise and interact with senior civilians, without expertise in military affairs, on a regular basis.
"I think some of the most important benefits the Soldier brings to the Red Cross are their skills and culture. We recognize and value their diversity of perspectives," said Keith Robertory, American Red Cross Logistics Support director. "The more diverse our workforce is, the better our programs become.
The Red Cross has been a TWI partner with CASCOM for more than five years.
Along with long time partners, there were several companies that showed an interest in participating in the program. They left the workshop with a better understanding of how the program works as well as getting to meet the CASCOM coordinators face to face.
"We have been working with the Army on our logistics certification program for about two years, and we believe if we had someone from within the Army on our staff, it would help us streamline our process," said Rebekah Hutton, Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Strategic Initiatives director. "We see it as a win-win because the program is relatively new and the Soldier can get the understanding of how the industry certification process works and bring that back to the Army."
The TWI Program was initiated in the 1970s in response to the Army's critical need for officers with state-of-the-art skills in industrial practices and procedures not available through military or civil education programs.
The first students participated exclusively in programs which supported the development of material acquisition and logistics management skills. The TWI Program has evolved over the years to include training programs which support marketing, public affairs, artificial intelligence, physical security and banking. Participants spend one year with their selected company learning their business practices from the ground up, and are then assigned a follow-on duty that directly relates to the training they have received.