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FAO 29Sept14

By U.S. Army Sgt. Jason Edwards

GCMC Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 26, 2014) – Adding to more than 1,300 graduates, 21 U.S. Army Foreign Area Officers finish the three-week Eurasian Security Studies Seminar at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here.

The seminar prepares FAOs for their upcoming assignments in the region with an Academic Module with class focusing on international security and regional studies, a Field Study Module consisting of visits to U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe Headquarters, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a Practical Module to prepare for life as a FAO.

The FAO Training Program has been on Sheridan Kaserne since May 1964. The seminar is part of the 50-year legacy of the FAO program at the Marshall Center.

“For over the course of half a century here in Garmisch, the Eurasian Foreign Area Officer training program has shown itself to be adaptable and relevant to historic changes and our Nation’s needs,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith W. Dayton, the director of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, who attend the Soviet Union Foreign Area Officer Overseas Training Program at the U.S. Army Institute for Advanced Russian & East European Studies from 1979 to 1981 here.

 Starting out as Field Detachment “R” in Oberammergau, Germany, the FAO training program was activated by the War Department on May 22, 1947. After 17 years there, Detachment R moved to its current home of Sheridan Barracks in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

“The FAO program’s original mission was to provide in-country language and regional training for U.S. Army and Air Force officers to establish a reservoir of personnel knowledgeable in all aspects relevant to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kelly MacDonald, director of the Eurasian FAO program here. “This was unique as most other FAOs throughout the world were able to receive training in their specific countries, but due to American-USSR relations during the Cold War, this was not feasible.”

Shortly after moving to Sheridan Barracks, Detachment “R” was replaced by the U.S. Army Institute for Advanced Russian & East European Studies, “USARI” for short. In 1993, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, USARI transitioned into the current program with the creation of the George c. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

“Throughout time, the program has remained current and relevant to the issues of the Eurasian region by providing classes accompanied with in-region training and travel,” said U.S. Army Maj. Christopher Distifeno, a FAO attending the program here.

Dayton said, “Although the program started in a very different age, a resurgent Russia continues to threaten Eurasian peace and stability.  If you look at just the last 10 years alone and watch events unfolding in countries like Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and Ukraine, you’ll see that the necessity for these regional specialists who see the world as others see it, hasn’t changed.  The Army has always needed these Garmisch graduates and needs them now, perhaps more than ever.”

Since the beginning of the Eurasian FAO Training Program, there have been 1,361 graduates from 90 classes, to include 19 general officers, 20 ambassadors and numerous other high-ranking dignitaries.

The mission of the Marshall Center is to create a more stable security environment by advancing democratic institutions and relationships, especially in the field of defense; promoting active, peaceful security cooperation; and enhancing enduring partnerships among the nations of North America, Europe and Eurasia. For more information on the Marshall Center, visit www.marshallcenter.org, https://www.facebook.com/GCMCOnline, https://twitter.com/Marshall_Center, and http://www.youtube.com/gcmcpao

Cutline:

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 26, 2014) – U.S. Army Col. Robert Duggleby, Jr., the Regional Program director for Black Sea – EURASIA, instructs the Foreign Area Officers on their role in the interagency process at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies Sept. 11. The class is part of the Eurasian Security Studies Seminar in which 21 FAOs from the Marshall Center and Eurasian region prepare for their upcoming assignments in the region. The FAO Training Program has been on Sheridan Kaserne since May 1964 and is celebrating 50 years here. The seminar prepares FAOs for their upcoming assignments in the region with an Academic Module with class focusing on international security and regional studies, a Field Study Module consisting of visits to U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe Headquarters, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and a Practical Module to prepare for life as a FAO. For more photos, visit our Photo Gallery (DOD Photos by Karlheinz Wedhorn/RELEASED).