FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Crux of FAO-dom

      I want to comment early on in this blog on RADM Lemmon's statement from the 4th Annual FAO Conference: "Trust and cooperation cannot be surged."
     This statement directly addresses the dichotomy between the role of the warfighters (the guys with guns on the ground-GWGOG) and the FAOs.  Using Iraq as an example, we had the capability to surge our GWGOGs to much success.  However, the roles of FAOs, specifically the successful role of FAOs as advisers to  the GWGOGs requires that each FAO has put in the requisite time within that country/region, that each FAO has forged the relationships needed to be effective. 
      And it is in this respect that RADM Lemmons statement must truly become the mantra for FAOs worldwide.  In whatever position each FAO finds themselves in (whether stateside or overseas) they must seek ways to build that trust and cooperation within their ROI (region of influence) throughout their career.

 (In future postings I will discuss the nature of trust and cooperation and what is required to create them)

Questions for discussion:
1.  Had a robust FAO program been established 20 years earlier, how might the conflict in Iraq have played out differently?  What should their role be (ideally) in Iraq today?
2.  Are there currently the correct number of FAO billets on each regional staff world-wide to advise/influence in future conflicts?  Are these billets correctly placed and distributed amongst the branches of the armed forces? 
3.  What are ways that FAOs can build that trust and cooperation within their region while they are stateside?



  1. I think the quote also speaks to the need for long-standing personal relationships in the Middle East. You can't build trust and cooperation with key leadership rotating through every 7 to 14 months.

  2. After meeting Army FAO's in different countries, I was amazed at how extensive the Army FAO program is and their larger presence globally than other services. Glad to see over the past few years a shift in Navy culture to support a more robust FAO program.