By G 3/5/7 for STAND-TO!April 4, 2010
Army Foreign Area Officer Program
What is it'
The Army Foreign Area Officer (FAO) program, or career field 48, is made up of advanced degree holders skilled in particular languages and regional issues who can serve commanders and senior policy makers as political-military advisors, military attachAfAs and security assistance experts. On March 10, 2010, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, approved training for 96 new FAOs whose service is needed in South Asia, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia.
What has the Army done'
An Army G3-led task force recently explored how the Army could meet the challenge of recruiting and training nearly 100 new FAOs within three years while not increasing the overall end-strength of the force. The task force agreed a 25 percent increase (about 96 officer positions) could be identified, recruited and trained from within the Army's existing commissioned officer population and manpower structure.
What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future'
Officers who meet the prerequisites and who are interested in becoming FAOs should consult Military Personnel message 09-259 and the Officer Service Management Pilot Program (OSMPP). The OSMPP, soon to be renamed the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program (VTIP), helps the Army balance out the officer force by moving officers from overmanned to undermanned career fields. VTIP will permit officers who meet the rank, time-in-service, and career field criteria to be considered for acceptance into a new branch or functional area after their Functional Designation (FD) board has met. Officers in year group 2003 will be able to compete for FAO slots when the FD board convenes on May 6, 2010. Officers who are not in YG 2003 but have between 8 and 14 years of commissioned service may submit their request for the VTIP panel between March 15 and May 2. The panel is scheduled to convene May 25 and 26, 2010. Basic branch HRC assignments officers can be contacted for more information on VTIP.
Why is this important to the Army'
The four areas in which these new FAOs will be trained are areas in which the Army envisions the greatest need for officers with enhanced language skills, cultural acumen and regional expertise as we move through the 21st century. Our commanders in the field have reiterated this to Army and DoD leaders and our strategic and operational plans and counterinsurgency doctrine make it clear; FAOs will continue to play a key role in engaging our partners in the arc of instability and providing expert advice to our nations' military and civilian decision makers.
FAO proponent Web site
DA Pamphlet 600-3, "The Army Personnel Development System"