Lt. Col. Christopher Orlowski is currently on assignment at Ford Motor Co. as part of TWI, where he is supporting the launch of engine programs for the 2021 model year. He’s pictured here on a rotation at an assembly plant. (Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Christopher Orlowski)
The Training With Industry Program is an excellent opportunity for officers. Here’s what you need to know before you apply.
by Jacqueline M. Hames
Army leadership, particularly within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)), continually emphasizes the need for the force to learn from its industry partners—from large, traditional defense corporations to smaller businesses that traditionally have not contracted with DOD. It’s one thing to talk with an employee from Ford Motor Co. about how they do business, or to read it in an article, but it is quite another to actually go to the company headquarters and experience Ford’s rapid decision-making process, or learn how to cut production costs to streamline a budget. As it happens, Soldiers can gain that experience through the Training With Industry (TWI) Program, sponsored by the Army’s Director, Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office.
WHAT IS TWI?
The one-year work-experience program provides active-duty Soldiers with exposure to managerial techniques and industrial procedures within corporate America, according to the TWI website. This kind of training isn’t usually available through other military schools or civilian universities and is therefore a unique experience; Soldiers are removed from the military environment and totally immersed in a corporate one. Officers from the Army Acquisition Corps between the ranks of captain and lieutenant colonel (O-3 to O-5) compete for assignments with 30 industry partners—including Ford, Amazon.com Inc., Boeing Co., General Dynamics Land Systems and Intel Corp. Applicants are matched to assignments based on their backgrounds and the skills the receiving company desires. When the officers return to their duty stations, they bring back a wealth of knowledge for their immediate commands as well as the whole Army.
One thing to keep in mind before you apply: You will incur an active-duty service obligation of three-for-one in computed days. In other words, for a one-year work-experience opportunity, you will owe the Army three years of active-duty service.
HOW DO I APPLY?
Officers can apply for TWI if they are eligible for rotation during the summer assignment cycle. An October 2019 memorandum from ASA(ALT) outlines the policies, procedures and application processes for the TWI program, but be sure to contact your assignment officer at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command for all the information you’ll need to apply. In general, applicants should:
- Have a minimum of three years of active-duty service, but not more than 19 years, and provide a memorandum acknowledging acceptance of the active-duty service obligation.
- Possess a security clearance of secret or higher.
- Be competitive for promotion or recently promoted, so participation in the program doesn’t risk the officer’s opportunity to move to the next rank.
- Be Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level 2 certified in either program management or contracting.
TWI gives officers the opportunity to train with companies that develop innovative, cutting-edge technologies and are leaders in their fields. Each fellowship position was established for officers to gain valuable knowledge about industry acquisition practices, and for them to leave industry partners with a better idea of how to work with the Army. For fiscal year 2020, there were 45 applicants for the 30 available positions, so be sure your application is top-notch. Here are some additional resources:
- TWI Student Handbook: https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/Training%20With%20Industry.
- TWI Initial Training Plan example: https://asc.army.mil/web/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/TWI-Initial-Training-Plan-Example.docx.
For more information, or if you have questions on how to apply, contact Maj. Saleem Khan at email@example.com or 703-664-5716.
See related article: TWI, Worth it.
This article is published in the Winter 2020 issue of Army AL&T magazine.
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