By by Corrina Panduri, LRC February 20, 2013
Joseph Balancier III is currently assigned as a Liaison Officer (LNO) at the Embassy Military Attaché Security Assistance Annex (EMASAA) in Baghdad, Iraq. He is an intern with the Army Materiel Command Fellows Program and is in his second year with the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Security Assistance Management Directorate (SAMD). As a forward deployed LNO, he supports the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mission by interfacing directly with the customer and the Office of Security Cooperation - Iraq (OSC-I).
Balancier serves as the central point of contact for all inquiries regarding communications equipment and services provided by CECOM across FMS cases in execution. He is a magnet for the all-encompassing questions regarding Army managed electronics, and is happy to provide assistance and pertinent information on CECOM FMS policy and procedures. Working directly with the Iraqis has given the LNO a keen situational awareness of customer concerns, as host nation personnel share their stance on particular programs and their effect on Iraqi national security. This, along with other data provided by OSC-I, has been an important factor in improving FMS case development, tailoring the security assistance effort to better meet mission needs.
One of Balancier's main duties is functioning as the Contract Officers Representative (COR) for multiple FMS contracts in theater. Operating in Iraq requires vendors to adjust to constant changes in the business environment. New laws and regulations often have an impact on the contractor's right to operate in the host nation as well as personnel security. Having the COR in a forward position is one method of keeping the Contracting Officer (KO) in the loop, allowing Army Contracting Command (ACC) to better prepare for and react to issues developing on the ground. In an effort to improve the communication process, Balancier facilitates meetings with the Government of Iraq (GoI), OSC-I personnel, and vendors to ensure requirements are well understood and concerns are addressed early. The meetings are functional, but also serve to better develop relations between the USG and host nation personnel.
Key to Balancier's success is his team back at CECOM SAMD located on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. For him to operate as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) across the operational environment of CECOM equipment (as well as the Foreign Military Sales process), he must draw on the experience and expertise of those on the home front, consulting with them daily to meet the constant information needs of the customer and OSC-I. Thanks to them, CECOM SAMD is able to support the security assistance mission in Iraq and provide a very knowledgeable face to the field.