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World-ready officers remain just one fellowship away

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Dec. 02, 2015) -- Nearly every operation the Army engages in now requires, to some degree, joint, interagency, intergovernmental and international partnerships. For officers who want to excel in that type of environment, the Army offers a fellowship program through the Command and General Staff College, or CGSC.

The Army's CGSC Interagency Fellowship Program accepts majors and lieutenant colonels that have achieved military education level 4 and have already filled key and developmental assignments. The deadline for applying is Dec. 30.

"Everybody knows that nobody is going to operate in the future in isolation," said Tim O'Hagan, Command and General Staff College's Interagency program manager on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. "This opportunity provides a very in-depth foundation of how our partner agencies work, so we are better able to collaborate in the future."

The Army needs 50 officers, from all branches, to participate in the program, and those interested can apply for the fellowship by completing the instructions in Milper Message 15-221.

Officers who are accepted into the fellowship will make a permanent change of station to Washington, D.C., in July 2016, will sign in on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and will begin work at their agency in August. They will fill 10- to 12-month assignments at one of 28 interagency partners in Washington, D.C., including the Department of State, Customs and Border Patrol, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The goal of the fellowship is to provide officers who participate with a broadening experience at operational and strategic level within the National Capital Region, O'Hagan said.

"They get to understand the process, culture, capability limitations, and how that partner agency interacts internally and how it interacts with the broader interagency community, specifically the Army and DOD," O'Hagan said.

When those officers return to their Army units, they can "cross-pollinate that experience and that knowledge to the larger force," O'Hagan said.

Once officers complete the fellowship, O'Hagan said, the Army will take note of it so they can call on them again in the future.

"There is a coding that Human Resources Command puts on their Officer Record Brief so if we need specific expertise in that partner agency, we know where to get it," he said.

Col. Chuck Rush, an infantry officer who now works as an Army planner with the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, participated in the fellowship in 2009 and worked at the Department of State, or DOS.

"I helped coordinate interagency policy, specifically I worked Afghan national security forces, and counter-terrorism issues as they applied to Afghanistan, but working for the State Department, and how they view things," Rush said.

Rush said while working at DOS, he got a broader view of how different government agencies work together, and how they make decisions.

"I learned about how other aspects of government works and makes decisions," he said. "In particular, how the senior political leadership across D.C. works to try to achieve - in this case it was during 2009, it was the strategic review for what we were going to do in Afghanistan after President [Barack] Obama was elected. So I really learned different aspects of how the State Department worked, how Congress worked, and how [the] State [Department] worked with other agencies within the government to try to get consensus on strategic decisions."

Rush is a 1995 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He's served in Italy, and on Fort Hood, Texas. He commanded a battalion on Fort Carson, Colorado, and worked as an operations research analyst on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Fort Belvoir. Rush has also deployed three times, twice to Iraq, for a year each, and once to Afghanistan in 2012 as a battalion commander.

Rush said the fellowship he participated in helped better prepare him for Afghanistan.

"And I think that experience was helpful to understand how the strategy was formulated and where I fit in that role when I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. It's helped give me skill sets to reach across organizational lines," he said. "It helped me to work with other people who, while they are trying to achieve the same goals, they go about it in different ways, depending on how their organization operates. I think the fellowship helped set me up for that."

For officers considering participation in the fellowship, Rush said that the fellowship prepared him to be exactly what the Army needs.

"The Army is looking for and needs officers with a broad range of experiences - some of those experiences that span beyond military experience," he said. "More and more we find ourselves in deployment situations where we work with many other agencies, many other international partners. Having an understanding of how to work with people that are not from your organization is a valuable experience."

There are 28 agency partners participating in the fellowship program:

- Office of Management & Budget

- Department of State

- Department of Transportation

- Drug Enforcement Administration

- Department of Homeland Security

- Federal Emergency Management Agency

- Customs and Border Protection

- Department of Agriculture

- National Counter-Terrorism Center

- Central Intelligence Agency

- National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

- Defense Threat Reduction Agency

- National Security Agency

- Department of Labor/vets

- U.S. Agency for International Development

- Department of Veterans Affairs

- Office of the Director, National Intelligence

- Defense Logistics Agency

- Federal Aviation Administration

- U.S. Marshals Service

- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms/Explosives

- Defense Intelligence Agency

- Federal Bureau of Investigation

- Department of Commerce

- Department of Energy

- Department of Justice, main

- Department of Treasury

- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency