News: JBLM welcomes foreign defense attaché visitors
Story by Sgt. Mark Miranda
JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. – Military attachés from 35 countries were invited to tour facilities and get an up-close look at the capabilities of Stryker brigade combat teams as part of an annual orientation program, Oct. 13.
Typically, these military attachés serve on the diplomatic staff of an embassy or consulate while holding a military commission. They may be under the authority of an Ambassador or other head of a diplomatic mission, who serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff. The attachés monitor various issues related to areas of intervention.
In this function, these representatives undertake the planning for decisions which will be taken and make all necessary arrangements, manage the agenda, conduct research for the study of particular matters and act as representatives when necessary.
“Typically, we’ll take two trips a year to see different regions and JBLM was one of those chosen this time around. This kind of visit allows us to manage and control what information they gain,” said Stewart Barnett, director, International Defense Foreign Liaison Office.
“We visit the different branches, and by coming to JBLM, they get a mix seeing our Army and Air Force. Of course, it’s heavy on the professional side for the men, their spouses are invited along and break off on a separate itinerary. Essentially, a visit like this helps them do their attaché function,” said Barnett.
There are typically foreign intelligence service representatives among the foreign defense attachés.
“Most of the nations represented in this visit are our allies, but there’s a limit to what we share with them. About 99 percent of what we do show them is public domain knowledge,” said Special Agent Kerry Brunais, 902nd Military Intelligence Group.
Following a welcome brief by Maj. Gen. Miles, deputy commanding general of I Corps, the group received an overview of the joint base concept at Madigan Army Medical Center.
The group toured the Andersen Simulation Center to see the sort of training combat medic soldiers receive and some of the equipment they use to hone their skills.
The afternoon itinerary included a Stryker brigade combat team concept briefing by Lt. Col. Frank Brewster, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment as well as a chance to speak with soldiers standing by static displays of the vehicles and their different configurations.
The attachés took a ride in the Strykers provided by 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
“It was very interesting to learn what the Strykers bring to the fight,” said Maj. Gen. Ning Zhao, an attaché from China.
“The big intangible to all this – these representatives go back to more senior jobs in their respective nations. They go home with a good impression of Americans if we’ve done our job well, they go back with a positive attitude. They’ve been to the U.S., seen Americans, and had this initial 'handshake.' It’s a friendly setting now as opposed to, say, 6-10 years from now - we could potentially see some of these folks at a negotiation table,” said Stewart.