FAO Training - Big promises and expectations but missing the mark

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  • 28 Oct 2010 5:02 PM
    Reply # 452938 on 255502
    Vernon Walters did it on the job and he was pretty good.
  • 02 Nov 2010 11:42 PM
    Reply # 456084 on 414691
    Jessica Wolff wrote:So, quick random question - I'm trying to study to become an FAO, but for Korean do I just do "Asian Studies"? Some colleges offer a degree in Korean directly, but I'm not sure if doing the area studies is the right way to do it - I don't want to waste the Air Force's money and time! If some of you have an answer to this, please e-mail me at jessica.wolff@ft-meade.af.mil, since I'll probably not check this again today - just found the site!

    The most relevant Masters degrees for Foreign Area Officers (which the Air Force calls Regional Affairs Specialists/Political Affairs Specialists) are (in arbitrary order) in my opinion and based on approved programs for Army FAOs:

    International Relations (for example the Boston University IR program)

    Public Policy (for example the Johns Hopkins MIPP)

    Security Studies (for example the Georgetown University SSP)

    Area Studies (for example the UC Berkeley East Asian Studies program)

    If you do an Area Studies program it will only be relevant if the Air Force designates you for that region.  The Air Force is more forward-leaning on advanced degrees than the Army, so if Air Force RAS/PAS program needs a northeast Asia region savvy officer then you are trained and ready.  I would hope that the Air Force would not send an officer with heavy academic preparation for northeast Asia to sub-Saharan Africa, but things happen.  I would not recommend a country focus but rather a region focus.  If you like Korea, focus on Korea within an East Asia Studies program, so that you understand Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia, and Far East Russia.

    If you are talking about an undergraduate degree, then I would recommend a Political Science, History, or International Relations program with heavy emphasis on regional coursework and language.  That is how I would design my undergraduate studies if I were to do it again.  The difficulty lies in having to do your studies before your area is designated.  I studied European History and Japanese and thankfully ended up a northeast Asia FAO but I could have been designated as a Middle East FAO.

    Best of luck!


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