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International Affairs Branch (PLU)

 

International Affairs Branch (PLU)

Headquarters Marine Corps

Plans, Policies & Operations (PP&O)
Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Program: AMOS 8241-8248

FAOs possess cross-cultural capabilities, interpersonal communications, and foreign language skills which provide unmatched time-sensitive situational awareness to senior leadership while improving Marine Corps integration with the Interagency. These skillsets are at the pinnacle of the LREC professional hierarchy 

 Two avenues into the FAO community.

        (1) Study Track.  Selected through CCLEB, this is a three-phase program, over a total of three years, in order to develop each phase of FAO capability.

            (a) Phase I – Regionally focused graduate education, resulting in a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs at NPS.

            (b) Phase II – Language training at DLI.

            (c) Phase III – In-region training (IRT).

        (2) Experience Track

           (a) Applicants who possess language skills, regionally focused graduate degree education, and cultural experience are encouraged to request designation via quarterly experience track panels.  Marines who do not have a regionally-focused graduate degree, but do have 12 months experience of significant interaction with foreign populations overseas may qualify for a constructive credit waiver of the degree requirement.  Experiences such as study abroad, regional component command tour, 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, prior Marine Security Guard, and extensive travel abroad may be considered on a case-by-case basis as a factor in determining qualification.  Award of a Master’s degree generally requires 12 months of study; therefore 12 months of significant interaction with foreign populations is required to compensate for the lack of a graduate degree and justify constructive credit waiver requests.

           (b) Marines who successfully complete a tour in the following programs requiring a regionally focused foreign language capability will automatically receive the FAO designation.  Notify IAP via the IAPMarine@usmc.milmailbox of successful completion and the AMOS will be awarded without requiring review by the experience track selection panel:

                1.  Marine Corps Foreign Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) 

                2. Foreign Professional Military Education (FPME) 

                3.  Olmsted Scholarship Program 

                4.  Marine Corps Attaché Program 

 

FAO STUDY TRACK

        (1) Study Track.  Selected through CCLEB this is a three-phase program, over a total of three years, in order to develop each phase of FAO capability.

            (a) Phase I – Regionally focused graduate education, resulting in a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs at NPS.

            (b) Phase II – Language training at DLI.

            (c) Phase III – In-region training (IRT).

Eligibility

        (1) The FAO study track program is based upon CCLEB eligibility requirements, First Lieutenant through Captain, with at least three but not more than 11 years of commissioned service (YCS).  Grade requirement is based on the current or selected grade of the officer at the time Phase I training commences.  

        (2) Officers applying for the study track program must be fully qualified in their PMOS.  This qualification shall occur prior to entrance into the FAO program.  If there is a conflict in meeting eligibility requirements, PMOS considerations take priority over selection for IAP.

        (3) Officers applying for the study track program must possess a final Secret security clearance in accordance with reference (j).  Upon designation as an 824X, the FAO will submit a request for a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI).

        (4) Officers applying for the study track program must be U.S. citizens.

        (5) Officers must meet minimum time-on-station requirements of their current assignment prior to commencement of training under either the study track program.  Waivers may be approved at the discretion of Manpower Management Officer Assignment (MMOA).  Selection boards can recommend a deferral of training for up to one year to allow for operational commitments or unaccompanied tours. More details will be provided in MARADMIN announcements for CCLEB.

        (6) Officers who have attended resident professional military education (PME) or other USMC funded graduate education program (Funded Law, Fellowship, SEP, etc) are eligible for selection to the study track program upon selection for promotion to the next grade.

        (7) Officers who have acquired regionally focused graduate level education at their own expense may still be considered for the study track.

Application/Selection 

        (1) FAOs are selected for the study track program via the Commandant’s Career-Level Education Board (CCLEB) for First Lieutenants and Captains.  Selection via the CCLEB is a two-step process based on the review of an applicant’s Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) as well as their CCLEB Questionnaire, see RESOURCES.

        (2) CCLEB will consider such factors as individual performance, individual preference, previous language study, language aptitude, undergraduate major, available IRT locations, and the needs of the Marine Corps. CCLEB selection results with matching languages and regions will be announced via MARADMIN. 

        (3) Officers contemplating applying for the FAO study track program are strongly encouraged to discuss possible career impact with career counselors (DC, M&RA/MMOA-4) and their primary MOS monitor.  As a recommendation, aviators should not apply for the IAP before reaching their first flight gate; combat arms or combat service support officers should consider delaying their application until the completion of a current or impending operating forces assignment.

        (4) In addition to monitors and career counselor, officers interested in the FAO program are encouraged to contact the IAP Coordinator at DC, PP&O (PLU) at IAPMarine@usmc.mil.

Training 

   a.  Phase I: Academic Training

         (1) Phase I is a 12 month program at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, CA, resulting in a Master's degree in National Security Affairs.  

         (2) The study track is primarily oriented towards four (4) Regional Security Studies curricula within the Department of National Security Affairs:

 

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

 

         (3)  The award of a Master's degree for FAOs is contingent upon both successful completion of the comprehensive exam at NPS and the basic language course at DLIFLC.

   b.  Phase II, Language Training     

        (1) Phase II training consists of 24-63 weeks of language training at DLIFLC in Monterey, CA, or in Washington D.C.  

        (2) The goal of basic language training is for students to meet DLI standards.  If FAOs fail to achieve 2/2/1+ at graduation, PLU will determine whether to convert to RAO, or authorize progression through IRT.  If IRT is approved, FAOs must retest immediately following IRT. Failure to achieve the required minimum language skill levels will result in an adverse fitness report and removal of the 824X AMOS.

        (3) FAOs will strive to reach 3/3/3 language proficiency by the end of phase III, and maintain that proficiency through their career.

    c.  Phase III, In-Region Training.  Phase III balances academic education and language training with a year of immersion and practical experience.  The goal for Phase III is to develop credibility and capability to understand complex regional and cultural issues as they exist, refine language skills with personal interaction among foreign populations, and build upon the regional education gained at NPS.  The nature and location of Phase III varies for each language.

Family Participation in Training.  Spouses are encouraged to participate in all aspects of FAO training when possible on a space available (Space-A) basis.

        (1) During Phase I,spouses of students who serve as an employee or staff at NPS (part or full time) may take classes based upon availability and guidance set forth by NPS (spouses must call to verify current policy and availability) without going through the formal application process.  Those who decide to pursue a degree through NPS must undergo the application process before they can continue their studies at NPS.  Spouses that do not serve on NPS staff are not permitted to attend classes for academic credit, but may audit courses only with instructor permission.

        (2) During Phase II, DLI strictly forbids active duty service members or spouses from auditing language class.  However, spouses can request a language seat on a Space-A basis only.  Unfilled language seats are allocated to Space-A requests on a first come, first served basis.  Spouses will learn if they have a seat on the day the class is scheduled to begin, however any last minute government enrollments take priority over Space-A requests and therefore a spouse language seat is not guaranteed.   A DLAB score is required to add spouse to the waiting list and can be scheduled through most DoD test centers or through the MARDET S-3 Academics Chief.  Contact the MARDET S-3 Academics Chief at (831) 242-6142 to add your spouse to the Space-A waitlist as soon as possible.

        (3) Phase III training is typically a one-year accompanied tour, and FAOs with dependents can expect to move to their respective IRT locations with their families.  Applicants should consider that living conditions at IRT locations may be considered sub-standard in comparison to the United States.  Standards of living will vary by location, but in general, FAOs on IRT can expect to live in conditions equal to that of U.S. personnel assigned to the local U.S. Embassy community.  Due to local security and operational requirements in some locations, Phase III training may be unaccompanied. A Marine with Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) concerns should carefully consider the possibility of multiple unaccompanied tours should he or she request FAO training.

            (c) In-Region Training (IRT). At Phase III training locations where FAOs are operationally attached to the United States Embassy, the Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché (SDO/DATT) or a service attaché senior in grade to the trainee will be the Marine FAO's RS.  When there is a Marine Attaché (MARA) in the DAO, the MARA will serve as the FAO's RS.  In the case of non-traditional IRT, such as assignment to Marine Component Commands (MARFORs), the RS may be the G-3/5.  Section Head, International Affairs Branch (DC, PP&O/PLU) will normally serve as the RO for all FAOs during Phase III Training.

 Career Management Considerations

    a. FAOs can expect to perform more than one pol-mil related tour of duty during their careers.  To accomplish this, a FAO will follow a dual-track career assignment pattern, alternating between PMOS and pol-mil designated billets. MMOA and PLU will attempt to place FAO officers in a FAO billet whenever the officer is due for a B-billet tour.

    b. The FAO designation is not a PMOS. Marines who carry this designation are expected to remain proficient in their PMOS and thereby remain competitive for promotion by serving in operating forces tours at each pay grade. 

    c. FAOs are expected to retain their LREC competencies between utilization tours; specifically annual language testing.  FAOs can be utilized at any time based upon emerging requirements as determined by the Marine Corps. 

    d. The nature of the dual-track career pattern may preclude PME attendance in residence.  Officers selected for IAP should immediately enroll in the non-resident PME course appropriate for grade.

 Utilization Assignment Policy

        (1) By applying for the FAO AMOS, officers are highlighting their availability to serve in international affairs and pol-mil billets when not serving in their PMOS.  Officers who subsequently decline to serve in such billets will have their FAO AMOS administratively withdrawn.

        (2) A FAO will serve in designated FAO billets.  The nature and location of these assignments will depend on several factors: 

            (a) The region of specialization and listed language requirements

            (b) The grade of the officer

            (c) The commands that have billet vacancies during the period the student/officer will graduate or be available for PCS orders

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

            (e) The needs of primary occupational field monitors (DC, M&RA/MMOA)

            (f) The preferences of the officer

        (3) PLU will meet with MMOA annually to slate eligible FAOs scheduled to PCS during the following calendar year.  Individuals are encouraged to submit billet preferences according to the MARADMIN announcement of available FAO billets.

        (4) Upon completion of the FAO study track training the Marine incurs a minimum five-year service obligation (three years for subsequent PMOS tour, and two years for utilization). The obligation commences on the date of official completion of training (i.e., date of PCS at the conclusion of Phase III for study track FAOs and date of PCS). 

            (a) Study track FAOs who return to the operating forces after IRT will be assigned, to the maximum extent possible, to commands that are operationally oriented toward their region of expertise.  This will enable them to leverage their skills while simultaneously building PMOS credibility.

            (b) An officer is not limited to one utilization tour and is encouraged to pursue subsequent utilization tours throughout their careers in concert with PMOS progression. 

      

fao experience track

Experience Track

           (a) Applicants who possess language skills, regionally focused graduate degree education, and cultural experience are encouraged to request designation via quarterly experience track panels. Marines who do not have a regionally-focused graduate degree, but do have 12 months experience of significant interaction with foreign populations overseas may qualify for a constructive credit waiver of the degree requirement.  Experiences such as study abroad, prior Marine Security Guard, religious missionary work, Peace Corps work and extensive travel abroad are examples of significant life experiences that may satisfy the cultural component of the FAO capability.  Such experiences will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Award of a Master’s degree generally requires 12 months of study; therefore 12 months of significant interaction with foreign populations is required to compensate for the lack of a graduate degree and justify constructive credit waiver requests.

           (b) Marines who successfully complete a tour in the following programs requiring a regionally focused foreign language capability will automatically receive the FAO designation.  Notify IAP via the IAPMarine@usmc.milmailbox of successful completion and the AMOS will be awarded without requiring review by the experience track selection panel:

                1.  Marine Corps Foreign Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) 

                2. Foreign Professional Military Education (FPME) 

                3.  Olmsted Scholarship Program 

                4.  Marine Corps Attaché Program 

Eligibility

       (1) The goal of the FAO experience track program is to identify and designate officers whose knowledge and experience meet the requirements for FAO as outlined in reference (b).  The experience track is well suited for reserve officers who are not eligible for the study track program.  

        (2) Active and Reserve component officers of all ranks are eligible for FAO based on the following:

            (a) Fully qualified in primary MOS.

            (b) U.S. citizen.

            (c) Possesses a final Secret security clearance.

            (d) Possesses regionally focused graduate-level education resulting in a degree that could include, but is not limited to, the historical, political, cultural, military/security, sociological, scientific/technical, economic, and geographic factors of specific foreign countries and regions. Individuals with a graduate degree in another discipline than regional studies or international relations may qualify with 16 or more credit hours of regionally focused graduate study.

            (e) Possesses foreign language skills in one or more of the predominant languages used by the populations of the regions in which he or she specializes. Foreign language proficiency is validated by obtaining a minimum Defensive Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) and/or Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) score of 2/2/1+.  Language proficiency must be assessed within the last 12 months to be considered current, with exception granted to those who score 3/3/3 within the last two years.  Language testing can be coordinated through local base education centers or the Marine Corps Foreign Language Program Manager (HQMC I/IOP). 

            (f) Possesses professional experience of not less than one (1) year (waiverable to six (6) months) in the country or region of specialty, involving significant interaction with foreign populations in the regions in which they specialize.

Application/Selection 

         (1) Active and Reserve component officers requesting a FAO AMOS may apply to DC, PP&O (PLU) at any time.  Applications will be in letter-type format and will include appropriate command endorsements.  International Affairs Branch (DC, PP&O/PLU) will convene a panel on a quarterly basis to consider experience track applications, and will forward the results to DC, M&RA (MMOA-3) via MARADMIN. MMOA-3 will enter the FAO AMOS in the officers OMPF.

         (2) There are no limits to the number of regional designations Marines can qualify for. Marines who meet the requirements for multiple regional designations rate a corresponding number of AMOSs.  However, FAOs must meet the initial requirements for each region and maintain language proficiency in order to keep each FAO AMOS.

         (3) All officers selected for FAO programs will be notified via MARADMIN.

         (4) See RESOURCES for a sample ET application format.

 Career Management Considerations

    a. FAOs can expect to perform more than one pol-mil related tour of duty during their careers.  To accomplish this, a FAO will follow a dual-track career assignment pattern, alternating between PMOS and pol-mil designated billets. MMOA and PLU will attempt to place FAO officers in a FAO billet whenever the officer is due for a B-billet tour.

    b. The FAO designation is not a PMOS. Marines who carry this designation are expected to remain proficient in their PMOS and thereby remain competitive for promotion by serving in operating forces tours at each pay grade. 

    c. FAOs are expected to retain their LREC competencies between utilization tours; specifically annual language testing.  FAOs can be utilized at any time based upon emerging requirements as determined by the Marine Corps. 

    d. The nature of the dual-track career pattern may preclude PME attendance in residence.  Officers selected for IAP should immediately enroll in the non-resident PME course appropriate for grade.

 Utilization Assignment Policy

        (1) By applying for the FAO AMOS, officers are highlighting their availability to serve in international affairs and pol-mil billets when not serving in their PMOS.  Officers who subsequently decline to serve in such billets will have their FAO AMOS administratively withdrawn.

        (2) A FAO will serve in designated FAO billets.  The nature and location of these assignments will depend on several factors: 

            (a) The region of specialization and listed language requirements

            (b) The grade of the officer

            (c) The commands that have billet vacancies during the period the student/officer will graduate or be available for PCS orders

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

            (e) The needs of primary occupational field monitors (DC, M&RA/MMOA)

            (f) The preferences of the officer

        (3) PLU will meet with MMOA annually to slate eligible FAOs scheduled to PCS during the following calendar year.  Individuals are encouraged to submit billet preferences according to the MARADMIN announcement of available FAO billets.

        (4) A FAO designated through the experience track does not incur a direct service obligation but is expected to serve in positions utilizing his or her LREC capabilities. Experience track FAOs have highlighted their willingness to serve assignments in which they can apply their LREC capabilities and are encouraged to seek billets both in the Marine Corps operating forces and in Joint and combined commands.