Request for Designation as a Navy Foreign Area Officer (FAO)


(excerpt from official US Navy memo)

September 4, 2001
(one week prior to 9/11/2001)

3. My principal reasons for requesting designation as a Foreign Area Officer are as follows:

a) I have wanted to be a Naval attaché since junior high school. For that reason I sought the Spanish FOREX cruise as a Midshipman and embassy duty (Caracas, Venezuela) as a commissioned officer. I believe that learning is in large part interacting, and find foreign travel a fascinating opportunity to learn more not only about the world at large, but about myself, what it means to be an American in the 20th and 21st Centuries, and what citizens of the world from other countries think about me, about us. I have visited at least 45 countries in my lifetime, several of them many times over, and plan to visit many more. As Augustine said, “Life is a book, and he who does not travel reads only one page.” I want to read the whole book, share it with readers and story lovers from all over the world, read the chapters that fellow travelers add, and understand the moral and themes of their stories. The world’s citizens are all members of the same book club, in a sense, and we should meet as often as possible in open forum to discuss lessons learned and impart wisdom gleaned from the school of life itself. The book of life can be read over and over again, and I love not only reading it, but being involved in authoring it, as chapters unfold with each new year and new world leaders. The Navy has permitted me to be a part of something, a story, a history much larger than myself, and I would not trade it for anything. I would like to contribute as much as I can to the history that is peace in the world, and to defend peaceful ideals if and when fellow members of the global community disturb harmonious fellowship.

c) The military’s regional expertise has become ever more important as global engagement has become a principal national security priority. We understand now more than ever that we cannot afford isolationism, that increased spending on collaboration and cooperation serves to minimize spending on conflicts and conflagrations. As Clauzwitz realized, the military is an extension of politics. I am proud to preserve and protect the world’s oldest living governing document, and to advance the noble interests of the US Government under the auspices of that Constitution and guidance of the world’s finest Navy. Twenty-first Century leaders must recognize the maritime character of our national interests and the Navy’s mission in safeguarding them. To project power abroad, ensure the safety of sea lines of communication, and advance US interests under the paradigm of democracy, open markets, free trade, and equal access to capital, visionary leaders must think systemically and understand the big picture before realizing their role in it. Such understanding involves examining the socio-cultural circumstances behind our foreign policy challenges, and delving into the psyches which comprise the complex characters of the world’s nation states. We must acknowledge the multifaceted ethnic, religious, and historical criteria which define their identities if we are to interpret the motivations which impel their militaries. Uniformed US Navy Sailors are already exceptional ambassadors of US interests. I would like to amplify my contribution by becoming a leader in the politico-military arena as Foreign Area Officer.

d) Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I would like to be a FAO because I believe Sir Edward Grey was correct in observing that “Great armaments lead inevitably to war. The increase of armaments produces a consciousness of the strength of other nations and a sense of fear. Fear begets suspicion and distrust and evil imaginings of all sorts, till each government feels it would be criminal and a betrayal of its country not to take every precaution, while every government regards the precautions of every other government as evidence of hostile intent.” Nations tend to ascribe ominous motives to others when caught up in arms races. Fear is converted to fuel which makes “cold wars” burn even hotter. Modifying such behavior at the politico-military level is the foundation of my desire to become a Naval diplomat: to dissolve barriers which perpetuate misperceptions, to avoid conflict by nuturing and fortifying mutual understanding, and to discourage hostilities by convincing the other of our superior military advantage, should that entity be uncooperative, undiplomatic, and unyielding versus US and international cohesion. Our military has succeeded in bolstering our diplomatic effort when it does not need to fight. I have always been fascinated with languages and cultures, their influence within the realm of military and political enterprises, and the interplay of these phenomena as forces which sway and shape the history of the world. I believe my aspirations are noble, I believe in power for peace, and I would like to complect all of these ambitions as a United States Navy Foreign Affairs Officer.


Written by Glenn Yeck | Comments Off on Request for Designation as a Navy Foreign Area Officer (FAO)