News: Army Lt. Gen. Mary Legere tells officers they are U.S. ambassadors
Story by Natela Cutter
MONTEREY, Calif. - The U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence, Lt. Gen. Mary Legere, told Foreign Area Officers participating in a conference at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center that they are “ambassadors of the U.S. Army at all times,” while on assignment abroad during their FAO careers.
“You must understand their history, politics, geography, economy, religion, the applicability of technology … you must have the ability to sort all that out … and walk me through it,” said Legere by video teleconference, describing what is expected of a FAO assigned to a U.S. embassy abroad as a defense attaché, security assistance officer, or political-military planner.
The conference held Jan. 13-17, is organized annually by DLIFC and is designed to provide additional training to FAOs from all four branches of the service who are studying at the Institute or Naval Postgraduate School. Each officer must go through a rigorous selection process which takes place after seven to 10 years of commissioned service. Once selected, FAOs must learn a foreign language, receive a Masters degree specializing in their assigned region of the world, and gain in-country experience prior to starting their new job.
“You will be engaging foreign military leaders and help build partnership capacity and facilitate foreign military cooperation and exercises,” among other assignments, said Legere, explaining that on many occasions only one FAO will be assigned to a particular embassy. “In some cases you will be it, the only one and lone representative.”
In order to be successful as a FAO, Legere told students that, “You must immerse yourself in the region, sustain your language which is your weapons system, and maintain yourself as an ambassador at all times,” to include moral and ethical integrity, she added.
“You are a statesman for the U.S. the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army,” said Legere, reminding participants that as FAOs they need to know as much about their own country and military as about the foreign nation they are studying. “You are part of an elite corps of professionals.”
As the U.S. Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence, Legere’s mission is to provide timely, relevant, accurate, and synchronized intelligence and electronic warfare support to tactical, operational and strategic-level commanders.