FORT MEADE, Md. - There is a huge demand across the Army for criminal investigators, both on U.S. soil and overseas. Much of that demand is for warrant officers, who lead special agent teams on criminal cases and protective security details for DoD secretaries and Pentagon officials.
Much of that support comes from Army Reserve military police units. Last year alone, the 200th Military Police Command provided more than 24,000 "man days" of support for criminal investigation missions, which mobilized more than two criminal investigation detachments.
Yet, despite this demand, the Army Reserve historically has had only 6 to 8 seats per year in the Warrant Officer Advance Course (WOAC) for military police, which prepares warrants to lead investigative teams. Without that course, warrant officers can still get promoted, but would miss out on key leadership training necessary for the job.
"Warrant officers need these skills because they're going to be case managers. To make our agents competitive to do the active component mission, we need these skills," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mary Hostetler, who is the command chief for the 200th MP Cmd., headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Hostetler has been the one who spearheaded the pilot training program for the command's warrants. She has been the command chief for nearly four years with more than 40 years of Army experience, all of it either as a military police or a criminal investigator special agent. She has served on the protective security detail for Dick Chaney when he was the secretary of defense and was in charge of a detail for Leon Panetta.
Hostetler, who lives in Monterey County, California, has been fighting hard to get more of her Army Reserve warrants through this course because she understands how valuable those leadership skills are for missions she herself has led and worked for CID.
The mission of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) is to conduct and control all Army investigations of serious crimes and to enforce Army law or regulations. They handle just about everything from sexual assault case to a hostage negotiation, and more.
Because of that constant demand and need for leadership training, Hostetler and the 200th MP Cmd. launched a pilot program that funded and graduated 35 additional Army Reserve warrant officers in the last two years.
WOAC is a two-phase leadership course that focuses on team management, command philosophy, organizational skills, analysis and other aspects of professional development. WOAC lasts approximately five weeks and is intended for "level 2" warrant officers.
In the last two years, the pilot program included two classes funded specifically for Army Reserve warrants. Yet, the process wasn't easy. Hostetler had to navigate the intricate labyrinth of school funding and course "trapping" in order to make this opportunity a reality.
"Her personal involvement, professionalism and unwavering leadership (was vital) for this initiative to come through from start to finish," said Jeffrey Weart, the deputy chief of the Leader Development Division at the U.S. Army Reserve Command. Weart, among, others was heavily involved in helping Hostetler succeed.
Hostetler coordinated and worked with every organization imaginable to make this possible, including the Training and Doctrine Command, U.S. Army Reserve Command, the U.S. Army Military Police School, the Criminal Investigation Command, plus the command's down-trace CID units.
"That first year, I was like a crazy lady, reaching out to everyone to understand funding (and make this possible)," said Hostetler. "The reason it was successful is because we stayed on top of it. If you want to work on your backlog, you have to work aggressively with your proponent."
Though she did a great deal of grunt work on her own, Hostetler gave tons of credit all around for this accomplishment, from the course manager at the military police school to all the Soldiers who attended the course as students.
In fact, that in itself was a juggling feat. At one point, nearly 20 students committed to attend the course on a specific date when the funding hadn't yet been approved. Those students were essentially putting their lives on hold to attend a course that might have fallen through without a budget. Thankfully, the funding came through just in time.
This effort caused Hostetler a lot of extra work, labor and hours, and yet, for her it's been well worth the effort.
"I would say my heart was in it ... Today being in the Army Reserve is twice as demanding than when I started 40 years ago ... I felt the need to aggressively approach the need to secure this education requirement for them," she said.
Hostetler will retire from the U.S. Army this month. Her retirement ceremony is scheduled for January 7, 2017, at the Women's Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.