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International Affairs Branch (PLU)

 

International Affairs Branch (PLU)

Headquarters Marine Corps

Plans, Policies & Operations (PP&O)
Regional Affairs Officer (RAO) Program: AMOS 8220-822

RAOs possess the regional expertise (academic and/or experience based) to serve as pol-mil officers.  RAO training does not include language study or regional travel. The AMOS may be awarded based on either regionally focused postgraduate academic study or extensive pol-mil experience in a region that results in a level of regional expertise equal to graduate-level study.  Because of this, RAOs serve in billets that demand a comprehensive understanding of a region but do not require foreign language skills.  The vast majority of these billets will be on operational or strategic level staffs.

   

Two avenues into the RAO community

        (1) Study Track.  Selected by CPIB, this program includes 18 months of Graduate Study in National Security Affairs (NSA) curriculum at NPS and the completion of a graduate thesis.  Upon graduation, RAOs will be immediately utilized in a RAO coded billet and will have an obligated active duty service time of no less than 36 months from the date of graduation from NPS, per reference (i).  

        (2) Experience Track.  Marines who possess a graduate degree or sufficient regional experience may qualify for the RAO MOS without significant further training.  Experiences such as study abroad, prior Marine Security Guard, religious missionary work, Peace Corps work and extensive travel abroad may be considered on a case-by-case basis as a factor in determining qualification.  The graduate degree requirement may be waived on a case-by-case basis for individuals with 18 months of regional experience, to include significant interaction with foreign populations.  The Director, Strategy and Plans Division (PL) is the approving authority. 

            (a) Additionally, successful completion in one of the following programs in which Marines do not possess a regionally focused language capability, will automatically receive RAO designation:

                1. PEP

                2. FPME 

                3.  Olmsted Scholarship Program 

                4.  Marine Corps Attaché 

            (b) Notify IAP via the IAPMarine@usmc.milmailbox of successful completion in one of the above programs and the AMOS will be awarded without requiring review by the experience track selection panel.

RAO STUDY TRACK

Study Track.  Selected via CPIB, this program includes 18 months of Graduate Study in National Security Affairs (NSA) curriculum at NPS and the completion of a graduate thesis.  Upon graduation, RAOs will be immediately utilized in a RAO coded billet and will have an obligated active duty service time of no less than 36 months from the date of graduation from NPS, per reference (i). 

Eligibility

        (1) The RAO study track program is limited to Majors and Majors (select), with nine to 15 years of commissioned service (YCS).  The grade requirement is based on the current or selected grade of the officer at the time RAO 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 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 and upon designation as an 822X, the RAO 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 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 the CPIB.

        (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) RAOs are selected for the study track program via annual CPIB.  Selection via the CPIB is a two-step process based on the review of an applicant’s OMPF as well as their CPIB Questionnaire submission, see RESOURCES

        (2) CPIB will consider such factors as individual performance, individual preference, undergraduate major, and the needs of the Marine Corps.  CPIB selection results with matching regions are announced by MARADMIN.  

  Training

 RAO study track consists of one phase, an 18-month program at NPS in Monterey, CA, resulting in a Master's degree in National Security Affairs.  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

 

  Study track RAO are required to complete a written thesis in order to be awarded a Master’s degree and the appropriate regional RAO AMOS.

Family Participation in Training.  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.

Career Management Considerations

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

    b. The RAO 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.  RAOs are expected to retain their LREC competencies between utilization tours.

    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

    a.  By applying for the RAO 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 RAO AMOS administratively withdrawn.

      b. A RAO will serve in designated RAO billets.  The nature and location of these assignments will depend on several factors: 

         (1) The region of specialization 

         (2) The grade of the officer

         (3) The commands that have billet vacancies during the period the student/officer will graduate or 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/MMOA)

         (6) The preferences of the officer

      c.  PLU will meet with MMOA annually to slate eligible RAOs scheduled to PCS during the following calendar year.  Individuals are encouraged to submit billet preferences according to the MARADMIN announcement of available RAO billets.

 Acceptance of orders to the RAO study track program incurs a minimum three-year and six month service obligation (18 months of study at NPS and two year utilization). 

Study track RAOs who return to the operating forces after utilization tour 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.     

    

RAO EXPERIIENCE TRACK

 Experience Track.  Marines who possess a graduate degree or sufficient regional experience may qualify for the RAO MOS without significant further training.  Experiences such as study abroad, prior Marine Security Guard, religious missionary work, Peace Corps work and extensive travel abroad may be considered on a case-by-case basis as a factor in determining qualification.  The graduate degree requirement may be waived on a case-by-case basis for individuals with 18 months of regional experience, to include significant interaction with foreign populations.  The Director, Strategy and Plans Division (PL) is the approving authority. 

            (a) Additionally, successful completion in one of the following programs in which Marines do not possess a regionally focused language capability, will automatically receive RAO designation:

                1. PEP

                2. FPME 

                3.  Olmsted Scholarship Program 

                4.  Marine Corps Attaché 

            (b) Notify IAP via the IAPMarine@usmc.milmailbox of successful completion in one of the above programs and the AMOS will be awarded without requiring review by the experience track selection panel.

Eligibility

         (1) The goal of the RAO experience track program is to identify and designate officers whose knowledge and experience meet the requirements for RAO as outlined below.  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 RAO 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 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 RAO 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 board on a quarterly basis to consider experience track applications, and will provide results to DC, M&RA (MMOA-3) via MARADMIN.  MMOA-3 will enter the RAO 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 MOSs. 

        (3) All officers selected for RAO programs will be notified by MARADMIN.

        (4) See RESOURCES for a sample Experience Track application format.

 Family Participation in Training.  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.

Career Management Considerations

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

    b. The RAO 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.  RAOs are expected to retain their LREC competencies between utilization tours.

    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

    a.  By applying for the RAO 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 RAO AMOS administratively withdrawn.

      b. A RAO will serve in designated RAO billets.  The nature and location of these assignments will depend on several factors: 

         (1) The region of specialization 

         (2) The grade of the officer

         (3) The commands that have billet vacancies during the period the student/officer will graduate or 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/MMOA)

         (6) The preferences of the officer

      c.  PLU will meet with MMOA annually to slate eligible RAOs scheduled to PCS during the following calendar year.  Individuals are encouraged to submit billet preferences according to the MARADMIN announcement of available RAO billets.

         (1) A RAO 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. 

         (2) Experience track RAOs 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.