FAO Training - Big promises and expectations but missing the mark

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  • 10 Dec 2009 5:34 PM
    Message # 255502
    Anonymous

    So, here I am, a FAO all trained up. Master's in regional studies? Check. Language? Check - sort of. JMAS? Soon-to-be checked. Ready for the field? Check??

    Soldier, statesman, diplomat...am I ready to tackle the myriad of roles my service, my country is expecting of me? I certainly haven't sufficiently mastered my language - a 3/3, are you kidding? Envious grumblings directed at my Army bretheren as they galavant over their country and surrounds for a year. Me, I got 4 weeks. Wow.

    I feel pretty good about the regional studies and can certainly expand on that (and have) through my own studies. Of course, it would be waaay cool to spend some time in the country - truly experience the culture, the societal nuances that will make a superb attache vs. a merely acceptable one.

    And hey, where are all the O-6+ previous attaches? Can we take mentoring a little more seriously please?

    Ah well, I guess it's back to the old standard of on-the-job training. You know, learn as I go from those around me...wait, what do you mean it's a one-deep position?!? Can you say "international incident"?

  • 04 Jan 2010 4:44 AM
    Reply # 263331 on 255502
    anonymous wrote:

    So, here I am, a FAO all trained up. Master's in regional studies? Check. Language? Check - sort of. JMAS? Soon-to-be checked. Ready for the field? Check??

    Soldier, statesman, diplomat...am I ready to tackle the myriad of roles my service, my country is expecting of me? I certainly haven't sufficiently mastered my language - a 3/3, are you kidding? Envious grumblings directed at my Army bretheren as they galavant over their country and surrounds for a year. Me, I got 4 weeks. Wow.

    I feel pretty good about the regional studies and can certainly expand on that (and have) through my own studies. Of course, it would be waaay cool to spend some time in the country - truly experience the culture, the societal nuances that will make a superb attache vs. a merely acceptable one.

    And hey, where are all the O-6+ previous attaches? Can we take mentoring a little more seriously please?

    Ah well, I guess it's back to the old standard of on-the-job training. You know, learn as I go from those around me...wait, what do you mean it's a one-deep position?!? Can you say "international incident"?


    I'm with you...unsure what service you are (except not Army, yes?), but as an Air Force guy, I can relate.  My lame 2/2 in Russian (from the DLPT IV that I've been taking since they got rid of the DLPT III) justified my getting this posting in Moscow (no complaints).  I had to beg for 6 weeks of Russian refresher (last refresher class?  1990!).  Now I've managed a 2+/2+ on the DLPT V, but after one month in Russia, I've found that this result means exactly squat.  Funny, but I don't find any salesmen here who want to talk about healthcare reform, but they sure want to know if I have a discount card and they want to know the answer RIGHT NOW!  Waitresses want to tell me all about their specials and they want to know how I want my steak cooked.  Again, no one wants to know what I think about health care reform in the good old USA!

    I'm also in a one-deep position, but gladly that's as an assistant; I'm lucky enough to have a full-up attache to learn from.  Sadly, when I'm done with this assignment (which will be way too early), I'll have to go back to my primary career field for 3-4 years.  Somehow I will have to manage to keep my Russian up during that time. 

    Again, no complaints.  I am one of the extremely lucky AF guys to actually get assigned to a country where they speak the language that I was trained/selected for.  I really feel bad for the AF FAOs who get assigned to stateside postings where they do not get to hear "their language" everyday.
  • 25 Jan 2010 7:17 PM
    Reply # 274016 on 255502
    Dear Anonymous, I'm a retired eastern Mediterranean FAO and would be pleased to discuss substantive issues dealing with Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. I've also had the pleasure and honor to serve as an attache three times and would welcome any general questions you or others might have about serving as an attache. With best wishes, Steve Norton
  • 03 Feb 2010 11:08 PM
    Reply # 279179 on 255502
    Christie

    Dear Sirs,

    Here I am, almost finished with Officer Candidate School in the National Guard and graduating with a BA in International Studies/Middle East in the fall. I have studied Persian Farsi for 4 years and Spanish for 4 years. I am taking the FSOT test for the Department of State 1 March. Honestly, I know that I want to be working in Foreign affairs but the choices seem overwhelming. Once I have completed these things I would like to transfer to a Signal Guard or Reserve unit in Maryland. Then I would like to pursue a Master's degree in International Studies or Intelligence studies. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Christie

  • 08 Feb 2010 4:57 PM
    Reply # 288204 on 255502
    Dear Christie, Good luck with the Foreign Service exam. I was assigned to embassies for ten years and the FSOs are good people to work with. I also like the idea that you are staying in the Guard or Reserve because most FSOs do not have any military experience. Sounds to me as though you are making some good choices for a career in international relations while maintaining your military status. Best regards, Steve
  • 16 Feb 2010 8:47 PM
    Reply # 292162 on 255502
    Anonymous
    Hi Christie,

    I've just been appointed by my directorate to serve on the ARC Culture, Region and Language Training Task Force for the Air National Guard.  I'd be more than happy to keep you posted of any developments on future opportunities for you.  You can reach me at jacqueline.chang@ang.af.mil.

    Regards,

    Maj Jacqueline Chang
  • 22 Feb 2010 7:08 PM
    Reply # 295037 on 288204
    STEPHEN NORTON wrote:Dear Christie, Good luck with the Foreign Service exam. I was assigned to embassies for ten years and the FSOs are good people to work with. I also like the idea that you are staying in the Guard or Reserve because most FSOs do not have any military experience. Sounds to me as though you are making some good choices for a career in international relations while maintaining your military status. Best regards, Steve

    Thank you for the comment it was encouragement to me. Somedays I wake up wondering what I am doing to myself. Currently I am going to school full time, working as a Federal Technician and attending OCS on drill weekends. I was hoping at some point I will be able to merge my interests in International Studies with my military job even if that meant going active army.  I realize that you are probably extremely busy but I was wondering if you could describe to me exactly what an FAO does? What is the relationship between the Department of State and FAOs? Is it all about selling and or controlling the distribution of weapons to friendly countries? If you would like, please email me at christie.wiser@us.army.mil
  • 26 May 2010 3:31 PM
    Reply # 349842 on 255502
    Deleted user

        I'm a retired USAF O-6 Navigator (RIP, now CSO) with 13 of 30 years with DIA and the DAS.  I served as an AIRA in Burma, a Reports Officer (and defacto Dep Div Chief) in Attache Ops, then split my time in Peru as an AIRA then DATT/AIRA (due to early departure of DATT ALUSNA and late arrival of backfill) and finished my career with 3.5 years as DATT/AIRA in Venezuela. I was a DoD HUMINT Collector of the Year and have since worked on HUMINT training programs after retirement as a contractor.

      If you ever want to discuss anything related to your Attache assignment get in touch with me. These types of positions can be extremely rewarding but you have to take possession and control of whatever is in your purview and make it work for you as you play to your strengths.  I rate my time in the DAS as one of the most important and enduring learning experiences of my life as I became proficient interacting with other USG departments and agencies with a common goal but completely different cultures as well as with foreigners on their own turf in military and diplomatic foras that called upon practically every facet of training I took during initial deployment preparation.      

  • 07 Sep 2010 12:03 PM
    Reply # 414691 on 255502
    Jessica Wolff
    So, quick random question - I'm trying to study to become an FAO, but for Korean do I just do "Asian Studies"? Some colleges offer a degree in Korean directly, but I'm not sure if doing the area studies is the right way to do it - I don't want to waste the Air Force's money and time! If some of you have an answer to this, please e-mail me at jessica.wolff@ft-meade.af.mil, since I'll probably not check this again today - just found the site!
  • 27 Oct 2010 9:44 PM
    Reply # 452508 on 255502
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    I am happy to see FAO attaches-to-be seeking comments from experienced attaches.  I'd be happy to exchange Q&A or respond to most anybody on specifics or generalities. I am a retired army O-6, Southeast Asia FAO.  My overseas FAO assignments included 13 years in embassies -- 3 years on the security assistance side (Indonesia) and 3 attache assignments:  A/ARMA Indonesia; DATT Burma; DATT Indonesia.  I also had an MI/FAO assignment in Thailand and 2 1/2 years in that other war (Vietnam) in an infantry division and as a district level advisor (both in the Mekong Delta).  Feel free to drop an email and I will be delighted to engage in conversation!  It should show up but if not:  jhaseman@earthlink.net
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