Wrong Checkmark Leads to the Middle East
When Cadet Liam Wallis applied for a summer internship in Europe through ROTC as part of his officer development training, he never thought he’d find himself in Kuwait. Thanks however to a check of the wrong box and what he now considers a happy accident, he got to see a part of the world and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that few other cadets will experience.
“I had intended to sign up for a program that would have taken me to European Command in Germany. The acronym for it was EVIP and the one for the engineering program was EIP. They were also next to each other on the form so I ended up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) due to a mistake on my part,” said Wallis. “I’m really glad it happened though because this has been a great experience for me and it’s pretty unique as far as these programs go.”
Wallis, who prior to the internship had not really considered the engineer branch as an option, reconsidered after seeing the scope of the district’s programs in the Middle East.
“Career-wise I’m considering quartermaster, armor and the engineer’s branch as my top choices. This experience definitely moved engineering into my top 3, before it was much further down the list.”
Pursuing a double major in Data Analytics and Economics at University of Notre Dame. Wallis noted that over the course of the program he saw many ways his business background could be helpful working in the engineer branch.
“One of the best things about this experience was being exposed to so many different sides of what the Corps of Engineers and the Middle East District do,” said Wallis. “Traveling to Kuwait and meeting with the area support group commander, personnel from the embassy, members of the Kuwait military and district personnel forward really allowed me to see all of the different components that make things successful.”
Captain Colin Sexton, an Army officer and Project Manager with TAM helped mentor Wallis, observed the uniqueness of the experience and its value in helping the cadet become an officer.
"One of the great things about Cadet Wallis' experience with TAM and USACE is that he had exposure to things most Army Officers do not get until several years into their career. He was able to work alongside and see the Operational level work being performed by TAM both in Winchester and Kuwait. I am certain his exposure to the USACE Enterprise will pay dividends for him as he heads into his senior, year of college."
Sexton stated that even if Wallis doesn’t ultimately end up going into the Engineers Branch when he commissions as a Second Lieutenant, the experience gained still provided a valuable opportunity.
“As someone who is interested in becoming a Quartermaster and later logistics officer, Cadet Wallis' tour of our Army pre-positioned stock in Kuwait and introduction to strategic level logistics down to the tactical level is going to make him into a better, more capable Officer as he serves our Nation. Without a program like this one, cadets preparing themselves for the commissioning would not gain these insights until much later in their career. Cadet Wallis will certainly have a step up in his future endeavor,” said Sexton.
Cadet Wallis said that one of the most valuable parts of the experience came while interacting with the Kuwait Area Support Group.
“There was a meeting I was in where the ASG commander directed his executive officer to get something done. I was able to see it go from commander’s decision to plan to execution. It was great to see something we’re taught actually put into practice.”
Despite potentially missing out on a trip to Europe, Wallis said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience and the country of Kuwait in his first ever visit outside the United States.
“We had a little bit of time to see the sites around Kuwait City. I enjoyed seeing everything Kuwait had to offer and the food was amazing! I am really thankful to the Middle East District and all the others who made this opportunity a good one.”