Famous FAOs

  • 09 Mar 2010 3:12 PM
    Message # 305441

    I am waiting to hear back from grad schools for ACS and I'm working with some on tuition reduction. I thought it might be helpful to tell them about FAOs who have gone on to do great things. Does anyone have some good examples of successful FAOs in history?


    MAJ Mike Burgoyne 48B

  • 17 May 2010 12:04 AM
    Reply # 344608 on 305441
    Hey Mike,

    I'd say that the gold standard is Sir Lawrence of Arabia.

    Besides Generals Stillwell and Chenault as probably the paramount American examples, there have been a number of Naval officers in the early days of the Republic who acted as diplomatic emissaries, though I don't know that you'd call them FAOs per se.  Still, Commodore Matthew Perry was instrumental to the opening of Japan.  Admiral David Dixon Porter was instrumental to our relations with the Caribbean in the mid 19th century after the Civil War.  William Bainbridge was instrumental in prosecuting the Quasi-War with France, and the Tripolitan and Algerian Wars, making him one of the most prolific examples of an American officer who acted as a diplomat with European states.

    LtCol 'Pete' Ellis, USMC, was an expert on Japan and the Pacific, and his research and writings formed the basis of the island hopping campaign in the Pacific, which he had predicted 20 years earlier.  I don't know that he spoke any of the languages, but he certainly spent time in the region, so perhaps he was more of a RAO.

    I also would think Col Wilhelm's work in Mongolia is noteworthy, and high profile, given Robert Kaplan's piece on him in The Atlantic Monthly.

    Just my opinion.  Take it for what it's worth.

  • 17 May 2010 12:05 AM
    Reply # 344609 on 305441
    Chris Georgi
    Didn't mean to make that anonymous.  It was me, Chris Georgi
  • 18 May 2010 1:35 PM
    Reply # 345572 on 305441
    Here's an alphabetical list of prominent (if not famous) FAOs who have achieved General Officer rank.  Any to add?

    GEN (ret.) John Abizaid, USA
    Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
    Former Commander of United States Central Command

    LTG Keith Dayton, USA
    U.S. Security Coordinator for the Israel-Palestinian Authority

    The Honorable Karl Eikenberry
    U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, LTG (ret.), USA

    BG Charles Hooper, USA
    Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Policy, J5
    U.S. Pacific Command

    Brig. Gen. Richard Lake, USMC
    Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Community Human Intelligence
    Central Intelligence Agency

    BG Henry Nowak, USA
    Deputy Director for Information and Cyberspace Policy, J5
    Joint Chiefs of Staff

    BG Mark O'Neill, USA
    Deputy Commandant
    United States Army Command and General Staff College

    BG (ret.) Kevin Ryan , USA
    Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

  • 02 Nov 2010 11:46 PM
    Reply # 456085 on 305441
    So the follow-on question to Mike is: How did it work out?  I will be treading the same road soon and am curious.
  • 03 Nov 2010 12:51 PM
    Reply # 456340 on 305441
    Brad Nicholson, 48J

    Solid list of GO/Flag officer FAOs but unfortunately for those of us in the field now, especially at O-4/O-5 rank it is not encouraging. I know many interested leaders are actively seeking a path to flag rank for FAOs but the bottom line is that all those guys (on your list) came up under the old dual track system. 

    They were able to do one, maybe two FAO tours, and still make the gates for command. The Army is a leadership culture and at the end of the day that is what leads to flag rank. Of course we all know this going into the FAO-world. Quite frankly I don't look back at changing my career field as anything but the best decision I made since commissioning. 

    Look at how many folks sideways transition into "FAO" jobs at O-6. I know a retired Signal Corps O-6 who was an OSC Chief in both Europe and the Middle East. It is not a two-way street however and this hurts us longterm. Granted with realignment of the Army's career fields things have gotten much better. Now that almost every Army officer has been deployed and talked to a local national, tribal elder, clan leader, conducted low-intensity warfare, etc this will only get worse as they all now view themselves as "cultural" experts because they know not to show the sole of the foot.

  • 09 Nov 2010 11:38 AM
    Reply # 459523 on 305441

    Thanks to everyone for the input. I finished the application process and I started at Georgetown’s Security Studies Program a few months ago. I posted my AAR and a draft FAO info packet on the FAO ICT AKO site https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/608701

    If I can figure out how to attach a document I’ll post the info packet here as well. I recommend that FAOs applying for ACS take the ppt version and adjust it to fit their needs and include it with applications or use it during interviews with schools.

    I found during the ACS application process and in general that people don’t have a solid understanding of what a FAO is and what a FAO can accomplish. The GO issue stems from this problem. I firmly believe that FAOs are (or will be) the cornerstone of our defensive strategy against transnational threats. The distinguished list of FAOs here are more than just “cultural experts” or “tea drinkers” they are generalists in every sense of the word. FAOs navigate the interagency to create synergy within their AO, develop and execute security assistance missions, advise and assist host nation campaign planning, and they identify both state level and transnational threats. All of this is done across the war fighting functions and services both US and host nation.

    We as FAOs need to be able to market ourselves not just to grad schools but to the rest of the defense community.


  • 12 Nov 2010 3:25 AM
    Reply # 461481 on 305441
    Enjoy Georgetown - that is where I went. It is a good school but has great access. During my time there we had Tony Blair, Laura Bush, Hamid Karzai, Mohammed Elbaradei, and others speak - oh yes, and this new Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama who came to a policy dinner I was lucky enough to attend.
  • 13 Nov 2010 7:09 AM
    Reply # 462206 on 305441
    It's been great so far. Alvaro Uribe speak last week in one of my classes.
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