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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

OCTOBER 2015

19

A

merican diplomats have a long his-

tory of working alongside the U.S.

military. In many cases, U.S. forces

have literally come to the rescue of

besieged American diplomats and

their families. A cohort of FSOs

spent their first assignment in Viet-

nam, many working directly with

the military in the Civil Operations

and Revolutionary Development Support program known as

CORDS. More recently, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gave

almost the entire FS cadre a closer look at the military when

many members of the Foreign Service worked with provincial

reconstruction teams or other military units. Currently the mili-

tary’s

Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa

offers ample

evidence of embassies and the military working well together.

FOCUS

ON CIV-MIL RELATIONS

WORKING WITH THE U.S. MILITARY

10 Things the Foreign

Service Needs to Know

Here are some pointers for members of the Foreign Service working with

the military today, from a retired senior FSO and the first political adviser

to the U.S. Strategic Command.

BY TED STR I CKL ER

Ted Strickler, a retired senior FSO, is a graduate of the

National War College and the Department of Defense’s

Capstone program. He was the first political adviser at the

U.S. Strategic Command and is currently an interagency

subject matter expert for Army experimentation at the

U.S. Army’s Mission Command Battle Lab at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are entirely the au-

thor’s own and do not represent official U.S. military policy.

The Foreign Service takes pride in its foreign cultural exper-

tise and language proficiency. Similar preparation is needed

when working with the U.S. military. To be effective in those

situations, FS members require a good understanding of military

procedures, organization and culture along with a minimum 2+

fluency in the military’s jargon and acronym-laced lexicon. The

following 10 points skim the surface of what the Foreign Service

needs to know when working with the U.S. military today.

1

THE BASICS

Since the National Security Act of 1947 was

amended in 1949, U.S. military forces have been organized

under the Secretary of Defense in three military depart-

ments: the Department of the Army, Department of the Air Force

and Department of the Navy (which includes the U.S. Marine

Corps). The Coast Guard is the responsibility of the Department

of Homeland Security. The secretary of each military department

and the chief of staff of each Service (known as the commandant

in the Marines and chief of naval operations in the Navy) are

responsible for recruiting, training and equipping the force and

dealing with attendant budget issues. The secretaries of the mili-

tary departments then provide forces to combatant commanders

as directed by the Secretary of Defense but have no command

authority or operational control over how the combatant com-

manders use or deploy those forces.

There are nine combatant commands (COCOMs), as defined