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Foreign Area Staff Noncommissioned Officer
International Affairs Program Strategy and Plans Division Plans, Policies and Operations

The overall purpose of the FAS Program is to provide LREC capabilities to MAGTF commanders at the tactical and operational level, strengthen irregular warfare capability and improve Marine Corps integration with the Interagency.  These voluntary specialties are open to a select group of enlisted Marines who provide commanders a way to effectively navigate the increasingly complex cultural terrain of global missions.  

FASs possess all three LREC critical skill sets, achieved over a 12-month duration.  To develop these skills, they are subject to a rigorous training schedule including graduate-level education, immersion language training, and regional travel. 

 Three avenues into the FAS community

        (1) Study Track. This is a 12 month program. Additional training events may be available that would add approximately two months to this training time.

            (a) Phase I consists of 6 months of graduate-level, regionally-focused education at NPS.

            (b) Phase II consists 3 months of language training.

            (c) Phase III consists 3 months of regional travel.

        (2) Partial study track.  Applicants must possess at least one of the three critical LREC skills to be eligible to apply for the Partial study track program.  SNCOs selected for the partial study track program will complete those phases of training as needed to develop the LREC skill set necessary to qualify for the FAS MOS. 

        (3) Experience Track. Applicants with an internationally-focused bachelor’s degree, sufficient regional experience, and language proficiency may qualify for the FAS MOS without significant additional training.  Marines may request a constructive credit waiver of the undergraduate degree requirement based on significant professional experience in the region, such as participation in:

             (a) Marine Corps Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) 

             (b) Marine Corps Embassy Security Group Tour

             (c) Defense AttachĂ© Service Tour 

             (d) A waiver for experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis if it equates to a minimum of 12 months of academic or professional interaction with local nationals, e.g., overseas tour in civil affairs billet, military training team tour, military interpreter tour, missionary work, undergraduate or graduate degree from a foreign university or college, Peace Corps, etc. 


    a. Study track and partial study track program eligibility

        (1) The FAS study track and partial study track programs are limited to active component Staff Sergeant (Select) to Master Gunnery Sergeant, who have a minimum of eight years in service and meet minimum time-on-station requirements.  First Sergeants and Sergeants Major are not eligible for the study track and partial study track program. 

        (2) Marines applying for the study track or partial study track program must be fully qualified in their PMOS.  This qualification shall occur prior to entrance into either program.  If there is a conflict in meeting eligibility requirements, PMOS considerations take priority over the IAP information contained in the IAP order.

        (3) Marines who have participated in other USMC education programs may be eligible for the FAS study track and partial study track program upon completion of previous service obligations.  Table 1 shows the minimum requirements for all possible entry tracks in the FAS Program.


Min Requirement for…





Associate’s Degree

Qualifying DLAB Score*


FAS Partial study track

(need at least 1 of 3)

Associate’s Degree

DLPT 1+L/1+R

12 month regional immersion


Bachelor Degree

(Int’l or Regional Focus)

DLPT 1+L/1+R

6 month regional immersion

If no degree then Constructive Credit Waiver (CCW) Required

DLPT 1+L/1+R

If CCW then:

12 month regional immersion

Table 1: Minimum requirements for training tracks


   b. Experience track program eligibility.  The FAS experience track program is available to any active or reserve enlisted Marine with a minimum rank of Staff Sergeant (Select).

        (1) The goal of the FAS experience track is to identify and select Marines whose experience and knowledge meet the following criteria:

           (a) Regionally Accredited Undergraduate level education focused but not limited to the historical, political, military/security, cultural, sociological, scientific/technical, economic and geographic factors of specific foreign countries and regions.

           (b) Duty experience of not less than three months in the country/region of specialty involving significant interaction with foreign populations.  Significant interaction entails gaining in depth understanding of the language and culture.

           (c) Foreign language skills in one or more predominant language used by the populations of the focus countries or regions. 

            (d) The experience track program is especially well suited for reservists who are not eligible for the study track and partial study track programs.  The undergraduate degree requirement may be waived if the individual has a minimum of 12 months of experience in the region.  The experience track panel will consider these on a case-by-case basis.

        (2) Active component or reserve Marine Staff Sergeant (selects) and above may be eligible for the FAS MOS based on the following:

             (a) Is fully qualified in PMOS

             (b) Meets the stated criteria in IAP order, see RESOURCES.

             (c) A constructive credit waiver of the degree requirement may be granted if a Marine has equivalent regional expertise gained through a minimum of 12 months of experience in the region involving significant interaction with host-nation nationals and/or host-nation.  Constructive credit waivers for FAS will be approved by Director, PL.






Entry Via

Associate's Degree




Associate's Degree


12 months

Partial study track

Associate's Degree


6 months


Bachelor's Degree



Partial study track

Bachelor's Degree


6 months


Bachelor's Degree


12 months

Partial study track

Bachelor's Degree


6 months




12 months

Partial study track



6 months



Table 2: Eligibility scenarios for selection into FAS study and experience tracks.


   a. Study track and partial study track programs.  Applicants are selected for the program via the annual FAS Program selection panel. A MARADMIN announcing the panel will be released by Dir, PL.  This panel will be composed of representatives from PP&O/PLU and MMEA.  Details of application process and requirements will be included in the MARADMIN. See RESOURCES for a sample application.

   b. Experience track program

        (1) Active component and reserve Marines requesting a FAS AMOS based on prior experience and existing LREC capability may apply to Commandant of the Marine Corps (PP&O/PLU-8) at any time.  Applications will include appropriate command endorsements.  Branch Head, International Affairs Branch (DC, PP&O/PLU) will convene a panel to consider experience track applications quarterly.

        (2) All Marines paneled and selected for the FAS program will be notified by MARADMIN.

        (3) See RESOURCES for a sample application format.

Training.  There are three training phases for study track FASs: academic training, immersion language training, and in-region training (IRT).  Partial study track FASs receive whichever phase of training is necessary to meet the requirements for the FAS MOS.

    a. Phase I: Academic Training

        (1) Study track FASs who do not already possess an international or regionally focused education but possess a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited university will attend Phase I training at NPS in Monterey, CA.

        (2) Phase I consists of graduate level education at NPS for FASs to become oriented with foreign culture, history, politics, economics, religion, social norms and the security dynamics in a specific region.  Credits earned at NPS can be applied towards graduate or undergraduate degrees of the attending Marine.

        (3) Phase I is based on four (4) Regional Security Studies curricula within the Department of National Security Affairs at NPS.  These will vary from the full degree program, but will focus on the following areas:

Curriculum 681

Middle East, South Asia, and Africa

Curriculum 682

Far east, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific

Curriculum 683

Western Hemisphere

Curriculum 684

Europe and Eurasia



        (4) Marines selected for this program must submit official copies of their education transcripts to the registration office of NPS for screening.  Only after receiving approval from NPS to attend graduate education can a FAS Marine begin their academic training.  

   b. Phase II, Immersion Language Training 

        (1)  FASs in the study track and the partial study track who do not already possess a 1+/1+ DLPT score in their target language will attend Phase II language training.

        (2) Phase II training will be done on a TAD basis and will take place at a language school in the region of focus. If force protection concerns or other matters preclude travel to the region, FASs will participate in intensive full-time language training in CONUS.  Family members may attend Phase II training with FAS Marines, pending coordination with each school, if it can be conducted at no cost to the government.

        (3) The goal of Phase II is for FAS Marines to gain limited functional proficiency in a foreign language as demonstrated by a DLPT/OPI score of 1+/1+/1+ (Listening/Reading/Speaking). The FAS will take the DLPT/OPI within 30 days of return to CONUS.  

        (4) If a FAS fails to achieve these standards PLU will determine extending the 8230 FAS-in-training designation and authorize use of language sustainment resources.  If extension of 8230 is approved, FASs must retest as soon as testing center allows, generally six months after last testing.  Failure to achieve the required minimum language skill levels will result in termination of participation in the FAS Program.

        (5) FASs will strive to reach 2/2/2 language proficiency and maintain that proficiency throughout their career.

    c. Phase III, In-Region Training

        (1) FASs who do not already possess substantial experience in their region of focus will participate in Phase III, also known as In-Region Training (IRT).

        (2) Phase III training culminates FAS studies and language training with three months of regional travel after Phase II.  The goal for Phase III is for FASs to immerse themselves in the culture of their assigned country and region, to enhance their academic understanding through personal experience and extensive travel in the region, and to gain familiarity with U.S. Embassy Country Team Operations.  The FAS’s goal is a working level of proficiency in the target language upon completing Phase III training as defined by the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) level 1+/1+.

        (3) This Phase of training will be executed on a TAD basis.

   d. Family Participation in Training.  Spouses are encouraged to participate in all aspects of FAS training when possible on a space available basis at no cost to the government.  Refer to Chapter 1, section 5.e.(1) for further information concerning spousal attendance at NPS. 

   e. Supplemental Training (FAS). Pending the availability of funding and space, PLU will augment the skills of FASs with the following training:

        (1) Security Cooperation Planners Course

        (2) Civil-Military Operations Planners Course

        (3) Information Operation Capabilities Planners Course

        (4) Foreign Service Institute: Intensive Regional Area Studies Course

        (5) Operations Chief Course

   f. Training Modifications.  It should be noted that emergent billet requirements, funding constraints, or changing pol-mil relations with host countries may cause short-notice modifications to Phase II and Phase III training. 

 Career Management Considerations

   a. Due to the growing requirement for LREC professionals, FAS Marines can expect to perform more than one pol-mil related tour of duty during their careers.  To accomplish this, a FAS Marine will follow a dual-track career assignment pattern, alternating between primary MOS and pol-mil designated billets. MMEA and PLU will attempt to place FASs in a FAS billet whenever due for a “B” billet.

   b. The total time for FAS training will vary, but full study track training may take up to twelve (12) months.  Therefore, FASs can expect to fulfill their utilization tour requirement prior to returning to their PMOS.  Marines contemplating applying for the IAP are strongly encouraged to discuss possible career impact with career counselors (DC, M&RA/MMEA) and their PMOS monitor.

   c. In addition to their primary MOS monitor and career counselor, Marines interested in the IAP, as well as currently designated FASs, are encouraged to maintain contact with the IAP and FAS Program Manager. 

   d. Additional IAP designations:  Regional designations are not limited.  Marines must meet the requirements for each regional designation.

Future Billets and Career Progression

        (1) The FAS designation is not a PMOS.  Marines who carry the designation are expected to remain proficient in their PMOS and thereby remain competitive for promotion by serving in operating force tours at each pay grade. 

        (2) FASs are also expected to retain their LREC skills between utilization tours; specifically annual language testing.

        (3) PLU will meet with MMEA annually to discuss and slate FASs scheduled to PCS during the following calendar year. Individuals are encouraged to communicate billet preferences to FAS Program Manager.

Utilization Assignment Policy     

    a. By applying for a FAS AMOS, Marines are highlighting their availability to serve in FAS billets when not serving in their PMOS.  Marines who subsequently decline to serve in such billets may have their FAS AMOS administratively withdrawn.

    b. Obligated Service Requirements.  Acceptance of orders to the FAS study track and partial study track programs incurs a two-year service obligation for FASs to be served in a FAS tour.  The obligation commences on the date of official completion of training.

    c. A FAS Marine will serve in designated FAS billets.  The nature and location of these assignments will depend on several factors: 

        (1) The region of specialization

        (2) The grade of the Marine

        (3) The commands that have billet vacancies during the period the Marine will be available for PCS orders

        (4) The priority in staffing for the commands with vacancies

        (5) The needs of primary occupational field monitors (DC, M&RA/MMEA)


        (1) As a general rule, FASs who require training prior to designation should expect assignment to a FAS billet immediately upon completion of training.  This assignment fulfills any service obligation incurred by training. 

         (2) FAS career paths will be dual-tracked whenever possible to ensure that the Marine remains proficient and competitive for promotion in his/her PMOS.  A FAS will complete as many subsequent tours in a validated FAS billet as Marine Corps requirements and proper career development will permit.  

         (3) A FAS designated through the experience track program does not incur a direct service obligation, but is expected to serve in positions utilizing his or her expertise.

         (4) Experience track FASs are encouraged to request assignment to billets in which they can apply LREC skills, both in the Marine Corps operating forces and in Joint and Combined commands.  


Plans, Policies and Operations