GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Years of training for U.S. Army
officers who foster diplomacy in foreign countries intertwined
during a three-week seminar held Sept. 6 to 26, 2015 at the George
C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
September here, the Eurasian Security Studies Seminar provides U.S.
Army Foreign Area Officers-in-training a better understanding of
their duties, roles and responsibilities in working on regional
security issues at various command headquarters and U.S. embassies,
said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kelly MacDonald, director of the Eurasian
FAO program at the Marshall Center, who oversees this training
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith W. Dayton, the Marshall Center director and who was a Foreign Area Officer, welcomes 26 U.S. Army FAOs throughout Eurasia Sept. 6, 2015, at the Eurasian Security Studies Seminar at the Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. (George
C. Marshall Center photo by Karl-Heinz Wedhorn)
Adding to more than 1,300 graduates from 90 classes, 26 U.S. Army
FAOs throughout Eurasia began this integral training. Program alumni
include 19 general officers, 20 ambassadors and numerous other
MacDonald explained that FAOs are
regionally-focused experts in political-military operations who
possess a unique combination of strategic focus and regional
expertise, with political, cultural, sociological, economic and
geographic awareness, as well as proficient in at least one of the
dominant languages in their specified region.
seminar brings all of the different components of their training
together, regardless of where they are in their journey to become a
FAO,” said MacDonald, from Keene, New Hampshire, who started his
Army career as an enlisted Russian linguist. MacDonald added that
FAOs-in-training can attend this seminar at any time during their
A FAO will typically serve overseas as a
defense attach�, a security assistance officer, or as a
political-military planner in a command headquarters, Joint Staff,
Major Commands, Unified Combatant Commands, or in agencies of the
Department of Defense, MacDonald said.
“So just as this
seminar ties all their training together, FAOs provide a
sophisticated linkage between foreign and U.S. political-military
institutions,” MacDonald said.
The journey to become a FAO
also consists of a year of language training at the Defense Language
Institute in Monterey, Calif., a year of in-region training at
either a Defense Attach� Office, Office of Defense Cooperation or at
the Marshall Center, and 12 to 18 months at a grad school earning a
FAO-related master's degree, such as International Relations,
Political Science and Security Studies.
terrain...that's the essence of this seminar, which adds value to all
of our training,” said U.S. Maj. Patrick Heim, who was born as an
American citizen in Meerbusch-Str�mp, Germany. “This seminar not
only connects all of our training together, but it also connects us
together as a team. And, it connects us to the organizations that we
will be working with, and to the speakers, instructors...That's what I
think is so important...the Human terrain.”
To prepare FAOs,
the seminar is broken down into an academic module with classes
focusing on international security and regional studies, field study
module consisting of visits to U.S. European Command, U.S. Army
Europe Headquarters, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and NATO
Headquarters, and practical module to prepare for life as a FAO.
“The structure of this seminar is very beneficial and fits very
well into our in-region training, regardless if we take it in the
beginning or the tail-end of it,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ross Kastner,
from Fort Bragg, N.C., who speaks Russian and has another three
months to go in his in-region training at the Marshall Center. “I
think it's a great introduction for those beginning their in-region
training on what they will be exposed to during the year, and for
those of us who are further along in the training, it's a great
refresher and helps us to put what we have seen and experienced into
“We each have individualized experiences in a
particular country's embassy, and through this seminar, we are able
to share with others who are just starting out in their training,”
This seminar is part of the 50-year legacy of
the FAO training program in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
more than a half a century here in Garmisch, the Eurasian Foreign
Area Officer training program has shown itself to be adaptable and
relevant to historic changes and our nation's needs,” said U.S. Army
Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, retired, the Marshall Center director, who
attended the Soviet Union Foreign Area Officer Overseas Training
Program at the U.S. Army Institute for Advanced Russian and East
European Studies here from 1979 to 1981.
program started in a very different age, a resurgent Russia
continues to threaten Eurasian peace and stability,” Dayton said.
“If you look at just the last 10 years alone and watch events unfold
in countries like Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Ukraine,
you'll see that the necessity for these regional specialists, who
see the world as others see it, hasn't changed.
has always needed these Garmisch graduates, and needs them now,
perhaps more than ever,” Dayton said.
By Christine June
George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies
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