By Robert RamonJune 13, 2011
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (June 9, 2011) " Foreign Liaison Officers (FLOs) assigned to the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain visited U.S. Army South at its headquarters here June 8.
The visit was designed for the FLOs to receive information about Army South’s successful foreign liaison program. In addition, TRADOC representatives gathered information about Army South’s unique mission of building partner nation capacity within Central and South America and the Caribbean.
“TRADOC is working on building a partner nation capacity concept for the Army,” said Jeff Hawkins, the TRADOC International Army Programs Directorate foreign liaison program manager. “Army South is heavily involved in working with partner nations, so we came to see their FLO program in action.”
The Army South staff knows well the benefits of including foreign liaison officers as part of the team, said Dan Meyer, Army South deputy chief of staff. FLOs from Brazil, Chile and Colombia currently serve at the U.S. Army South headquarters.
“We didn’t realize how much these officers would bring to the table until they arrived here,” said Meyer of the Army South FLOs. “It’s a great benefit and we’re certainly a better organization due to the presence of these three officers and their contribution to the command.”
The TRADOC FLOs toured the Army South headquarters and received briefs on the command mission, current operations, various exercises conducted with partner armies during the past year and presentations from FLOs about their personal experience while assigned to the command.
“In order to understand TRADOC’s mission and how TRADOC is supporting the rest of the Army, we feel it’s important for the FLOs to go out and visit with U.S. Army South and other commands,” said Hawkins. “It gives them a better understanding of our Army overall and its various missions.”
The Army Foreign Liaison Officer Program was created to foster cooperation and mutual understanding between the U.S. Army and armies of partner nations.
“Having the TRADOC FLOs here today provides a leader-level exchange of information that we can benefit from, and they can take back to their countries,” said Walter Leon, Army South deputy of exercises. “It’s a better, hands-on approach of creating and providing enhanced theater cooperation.”
According to Japanese Self-Defense Forces Lt. Col. Daisuke Ichimiya the visit with Army South was helpful and very positive.
“This has been a great opportunity,” said Ichimiya. “I’m always focused on partner nation capabilities within the Pacific region so the environment here at Army South is completely different than what I’m used to. It provides a very different perspective on great ways to do things.”
Royal Danish army Lt. Col. Thorsten Lyhne Joergensen said there’s no replacement for actually visiting the various U.S. Army commands up close and personally.
“Typically, as in every other organization, you’ll find there’s a bit of discrepancy from what you hear secondhand versus what’s actually going on,” said Joergensen. “It makes a huge difference to actually see it for yourself and get a chance to talk to these guys and ask them the questions you want to ask.”
The exchange of ideas was successful and “is a very useful benefit for those of us who are part of smaller armies,” said Czech Republic army Col. Petr Markvartl.
“Being able to see how such a big Army works and operates allows us to adapt and apply some things to use for ourselves and make things better,” said Markvartl.
Hawkins said the 16 FLOs currently assigned to TRADOC tour various U.S. Army commands twice a year. After departing Army South the FLOs travelled across post to visit U.S. Army North.