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WOCC senior staff training opens doors with Navy

U.S. Navy CWO4 Carl Smith, USS Abraham Lincoln information professional, listens to class instruction May 7 at the WOCC. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

U.S. Navy CWO4 Carl Smith, USS Abraham Lincoln information professional, listens to class instruction May 7 at the WOCC. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: May 22, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 22, 2014) -- There are several joint forces training centers around the U.S., and even though Fort Rucker is not one of them, a fair share of Airmen, Sailors and Marines can be seen on the installation from time to time.

And even though there are programs currently set up that welcome warriors from other services, a new joint operations initiative is beginning to take root at the Warrant Officer Career College.

U.S. Navy CWO4 Carl Smith, USS Abraham Lincoln information professional, graduates May 23 from the Warrant Officer Senior Staff Course, where he learned about strategic-level studies and joint operations.

“We had to go clear up to the Pentagon to get the approval. We had to make provisions to make sure no one was taking a seat away from an Army Soldier,” said CW5 Todd Blake, WOCC staff and senior staff course director. “It is as beneficial for our students as it is for the Navy to have the joint workings here, especially when we do the practical exercises. As much information comes from the students as it does the instructors.”

Blake said the inclusion of other service members is a win-win for everyone, and that there is interest from the Navy and the Marines.

“The more the merrier, because the more we have in each class the more that everyone can benefit on our side and theirs,” he said. “Training like this makes it really become three dimensional.”

Smith said he is very proud to be representing the Navy in the class, and that he is thankful he was able to secure a spot.

“Working jointly is important because we are working to meet one common goal and we are working at this level in the same areas,” he said. “We have to work together and be focused as one. If we can intermingle and work with one another, we will be more successful.”

The Navy does not have any type of extended education for senior warrant officers, said Smith, adding that he really wishes the Navy had something like WOCC for his fellow warrants to attend.

“Naval officers would greatly benefit from this joint training. Getting the lingo down was challenging at first, learning all the acronyms and such, but now when I work jointly with other branches, the work will go much smoother,” he said. “I wish I would have gotten this course much sooner. I would have greatly benefited from it before I deployed with a joint staff operations group for communications at Camp Victory, (Iraq).”

Smith said allowing other warrant officers to receive the training is something that the military needs to look into to see the big picture and think out of the box for policies, procedures and strategies, adding that communication between the services is key.

Smith’s classmate, CW4 David Behm, Operations Company Headquarters, 20th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, said that when senior leaders deploy, they are working with other service branches, and that they have to understand how they function and interact within themselves.

“The training environment hasn’t changed at all. He has been able to offer insight that we might not have gotten,” said Behm. “He has brought a different view and perspective to class discussions. We need to have this insight on what the other services are doing and how they operate.”

Students focus on the big picture during the course, where they are taught how to be senior staff officers and advisers to senior staff officers, and is not military occupational specialty specific, said Blake.

This program on integrating other service members into Army classes is brand new for WOCC, with Smith being only the second individual from another service branch to go through.

Last year, another Naval officer was the initial candidate. That officer, CWO4 David Miller, felt there was a gap in training and education for the Navy CWO since there are no formal plans in place to prepare W2s in the Navy for “additional responsibility, leadership roles or operating in the joint environment.”

Miller began searching for military education opportunities, and after meeting several dead ends discovered the WOCC, which he believed institutionalized the profession of the warrant officer corps, and had a “formalized process for ensuring all warrant officers receive professional military education from the time of their acceptance as a warrant officer through their promotion to CW5,” he wrote.

After many months of struggling to get approved to attend the Warrant Officer Senior Staff Course, he arrived at Fort Rucker ready to learn and pave the way for future Navy and Marine warrant officers.

“I am a better officer for having attended the course,” said Miller. “I definitely improved my depth of knowledge.”

During Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno’s visit to the college last year, he stated that he believes the course “should be joint” and that he hoped to “see more warrants from the other services in the future.”

With support from the chief of staff, the course director, Fort Rucker senior leaders, and WOCC faculty and instructors for the course to be open to all warrant officers, Fort Rucker might be seeing more Navy and Marine khaki around the installation.

This article was originally published at

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