THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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’sCombined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa
evidence of embassies and the military working well together.
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.
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