International Liaison Office moves to new building
July 1, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- U.S. and international officials celebrated the opening of the new Liaison Office with a ribbon cutting ceremony June 23.
Formerly located at Bldg. 107, LNO houses representatives from allied nations including Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Korea and The Netherlands.
Fort Rucker welcomed the first LNO, a French soldier, in 1956. Since then, the office has relocated five times, now at Bldg. 4105 across from the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Facility on Andrews Avenue, said Bill Foley, LNO contact officer.
The new building allows LNOs extra space, a more modern climate control system and a central location on post, he noted. While last week's ribbon cutting signified the public opening, staff moved into the building in January.
"It's so much better than anything in the past," Foley said.
Liaison officers "come here and we share Aviation knowledge and ideas together," he said. "We gain a lot of benefits from having them here."
The arrangement allows LNOs to advise and coordinate with U.S. Army Aviators, giving American leaders a global perspective. Some also oversee small detachments from their countries, filled with training servicemembers who are often here for Flight School XXI or Aviation Captains Career Course.
Foley said the relationship also offers the Army's foreign counterparts insight on U.S. military tactics.
"(It helps them) understand how we do things and become a part of this organization," he said.
LNOs usually bring their spouses and children here with them, which allows unique cultural experiences for Family members, he noted.
"They leave here with probably the biggest eye opener - how involved Families are in the Army," Foley said.
Lt. Col. Philip Whittle, Dutch LNO and Royal Netherlands Air Force detachment commander, said he believes the new facility helps his Soldiers by offering a place for social events and briefings.
"It's a really great improvement," he said.
About 60 German students attend flight and non-flight training annually, according to that country's LNO, Lt. Col. Martin Geller. He's stationed here with two other German officials - a captain, who works as the training officer, and a sergeant major.
"It's very important for all countries to work on the same cause," he said. "We like to work together."
Australian Army Lt. Col. David Burke said postgraduate CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk pilots come here for further qualifications. Training with their American allies - whom they're fighting with in Afghanistan - helps them better understand U.S. troops, he said.
"(Our) operations at the moment are closely aligned with the U.S.," Burke said.
A long, intertwined military history makes Korean Army Lt. Col. Kwangho Kim's duties here special, he said.
"Korea is a 60-year-old friend with the U.S. On June 25, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War (beginning). Since that time, the U.S. and Korea have maintained a friendship," he said.
While there are presently six LNOs here, countries represented in the past include France, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Brazil. Other nations can potentially become a part of Fort Rucker's LNO, but must receive Department of the Army approval first, Foley said.