Graduation season is quickly approaching. Energetic, goal-seeking grads will most likely be looking beyond the entry level position and eyeing where their career will take them. One good career move is to apply for a fellowship or internship.
One enterprising young woman, Brandi Martin, eyed an opportunity several years ago to be part of an Army Materiel Command’s Fellows Program. Now she is a security cooperation specialist at the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation. She credits her time as a Fellow as a major part of her career success.
Martin, from a small town in Alabama, graduated from Talladega College with a degree in business administration and management. She worked as a co-op student at Anniston Army Depot while an undergraduate. Her job was converted to a fulltime position at the depot after graduation. However, she continued her studies and went on to earn a master’s from Jacksonville State University.
“I graduated from JSU in 2008 and the following year I was selected into the final class of the Army Materiel Command’s Fellows Program, which required me to move from Alabama to Texarkana, Texas,” Martin said.
An Army Fellows’ program is a planned development through a combination of progressive and sequential work assignments, formal training, and self-development as the Fellows progress from entry-level positions to advanced key positions within the workforce.
“While at the Army Logistics Learning Center at Red River Army Depot, I spotted (a former USASAC leader) walking the halls as if he were looking for someone,” Martin recalled of her early days in the program. “I asked if I could assist him; he told me he was from USASAC and looking to meet a few Fellows that would be interested in being placed at USASAC, which had recently relocated to Redstone Arsenal. After hearing about the mission of USASAC I was intrigued and gave him my resume.”
Martin was selected and relocated to the Security Assistance Command in 2010. She was placed in the CENTCOM regional operations directorate and worked on programs for Middle East countries. She simultaneously worked closely with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Building Partnership Capacity team. This “afforded me the opportunity to do a year rotation within DSCA … learning more about how security assistance and cooperation programs are developed and the various political and military significance of the work we do,” Martin said.
“The AMC Fellows program exposed me to the various commands within the AMC enterprise, while providing structure and mentorship and a network of like-minded individuals,” she said. It also allowed her to understand the importance of being multifunctional and mobile in this current work environment.
“Brandi has a great reputation throughout the entire Army security assistance enterprise,” Tracy Engler, division chief at USASAC SOUTHCOM, said. “She has a strong work ethic, knowledge of the (foreign military sales) process and networking ability that helps her achieve success. Brandi works hard to find solutions to difficult problems and uses her critical thinking skills to create opportunities.”
Upon finishing the Fellows program, she was promoted within USASAC. “I had always wanted to work an overseas assignment,” Martin said, “and in 2014 I was selected to work in the Taiwan Field Office.”
In 2016, she was selected to be a country desk officer within DASA DE&C, and in 2019 she came back to USASAC as a country program manager-forward to INDOPACOM and U.S. Army Pacific, which is in Hawaii.
“As a fellow CPM-forward she was engaging and responsive and was open to collaboration between us other CPM-forwards,” Stefanie Adkins, country program manager-forward, USASAC EUCOM, said.
Martin is still supporting USASAC by assisting the CPMs in EUCOM to address gaps in requirements from the regional operations leaders, as a liaison and resource at DASA DE&C.
“You can hire anyone; you can teach a lot of people to do a job. What you can’t do is pay someone to care or be pleasant to work with,” Rob Rivard, country program manager at USASAC CENTCOM, said. “I worked with Brandi for a few years, and having someone who can do the job, who cares, and is a team player is priceless. You can’t control when people leave, though I’m glad she’s still in the security assistance world, it’s a small one, so you’ll run into them again sooner or later. If nothing else, it means we’ve retained one of the good ones.”
“As you can see, I have moved around in my career and it all started with the AMC Fellows Program,” Martin said. “The program placed me in an intriguing career field that has allowed me the opportunity to live in and visit various places that have opened my heart and mind to different cultures, customs and ways of thought. USASAC, and the relationships I forged there, laid the foundation for me to understand how the U.S. government uses security assistance and cooperation to meet its national strategic objectives.”