July 27, 2005

FAO, Again

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:26 pm

Looks like they’re restarting the Foreign Area Officer thing up again. A memo from Dr. Wolfowitz kickstarted the services into doing what they said they were going to do when Congress told them to build FAO programs back in 1996. Air Force guys with .mil accounts can check their My AF website for the IAW program (FAO translated into light blue, I guess); Navy supposedly has something “real soon now”. Army and Marines will likely tweak and keep on rolling; they weren’t as broken, just have to get more language training available.

I went looking around at this once, as I was interested in things like how we counted all the guys who know languages and how we capture all that good knowledge and relationships with foreign navies.

The Army had a building with lots of people in it to track all their “strategic scout” FAOs.

The Marine Corps had a two star and a big Pentagon office and staff tracking guys from boot camp on and RAOs and FAOs.

The Air Force had their general type person and trackers, although they started a little late to the game.

Us? We had a captain with the cog, but he prioritized (properly for his boss’ needs) and gave the job to a collateral duty lieutenant. That poor kid.

So anyway, the subspecialty thing died horribly, and the selection boards kept going but didn’t mean anything, and there was no way PERS-Warfare Pin would release one of theirs from filling a vital power point job on a staff to go do something so clearly not helping them build more (insert warfare type lust object, like submarines), and nobody would release anyone for Defense Language Institute without someone with the hammer swung in their direction. (Even a JPME phase II billet, which someone else pays for and on the parent command’s time, is Just Not Done, or so I’ve been informed upon seeing it done.) And someone doing something odd in their career path would definitely be a promotion killer. So I’m glad someone’s finally reattacked the problem.

On the to do list for me: a post about the guy who singlehandedly allowed us to win OEF, a guy who had just retired from the job as defense attache’ in Pakistan and helped negotiate all those things we needed now now now. Talk about a force multiplier. That guy saved a lot of lives and let the other operators win. That’s the kind of thing a FAO can do for you. That new agreement between the Indian and American navies, solidifying Anglosphere ties for the first time, like, ever? Who gets basing rights smoothed over? Who gets your stuff out of the deep end when the E-2 does something unsavory on a drunk liberty night?

And why wouldn’t it be a good idea to select and train and care about those people, and use their talents when they come back from overseas in a way that uses that knowledge?

Don’t answer that; it’s rhetorical. It’s just rant time here tonight.

2 Responses to “FAO, Again”

  1. Skippy-san Says:

    Amen. Our front office out here had to pull out all the stops to get a guy an assignment he wanted as an FAO, despite the fact that A0 He was up for shore duty and B he spoke Spanish and the billet was in South America. He finally got it, but most of us poor retirees figured that paybvack is going to be a medevac when he gets to go back to sea……..

    I know I would have jumped on something that gave me DLI if I had been given the opportunity in my day……

    You’re right though , its just not important to the right people.

  2. Bobby Says:

    The problem is it’s going to require a serious effort or a long time for the current orthodoxy to erode enough to accept the directive. In the Army, for example, the Chief of Staff directed that, being an Army at war, we no longer had the time for traditional notions of branch qualification, and that we were to flush those from our memory and do what the Army needed us to do.

    But that didn’t trickle down to the lower management branch managers who continue to assign officers based not so much on their skill set and how they could best help the Army, but rather on the traditional assignments required to “get promoted.” It’s not really their fault, they’ve been told that you have to do X, Y, and Z to move on, so darn it, they’re going to make sure that everyone does X, Y, and Z, and the Chief of Staff’s directive just sort of flounders.

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