What is the difference between a Marine FAO/RAO and a Naval FAO/RAO?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by cajunrouge2021, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. cajunrouge2021

    cajunrouge2021 Member

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    What is the job overall like? Is there a difference between their roles? How does one become one or the other?
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/officer/Detailing/FAO/Pages/default.aspx

    After serving successfully in a line warfare community, an officer can apply (nothing guaranteed, it's competitive) to a lateral transfer/redesignation board to become a FAO. Language and other training follows, then duty on major staffs or SECDEF/SECNAV/JCS/Service staffs where they hold down a region or country desk, becoming the SME for that region or country. They can also be assigned as a military attaché on Embassy staffs. There are also other positions where their SME skills are needed. FAO becomes their full-time professional focus.

    I believe it is generally the same process in Marine Corps, with generally the same kinds of duties.

    We have a USNA sponsor family daughter, went Marine air. She excelled, but was flying CH-46's, which were being phased out. She smartly positioned herself to get selected for the FAO program. She attended the Naval Postgraduate School for Master's in an appropriate field, then the Defense Language Institute, then a year immersion in-country (China). After two years on major staff, now has orders to Southeast Asia on Embassy duty, via some additional language schools.

    When I was a USNA BattO, I took two female USNA grad lieutenants on a training det to the Peruvian Naval Academy, accompanied by the LCDR FAO desk officer from OPNAV staff who handled Peru. The PNA was bringing in women for the first time, and wanted assistance. State Dept, Defense Dept, SECNAV staff and OPNAV set up the assistance trip with local Embassy. I led the det (one of my most fun TAD trips ever), and the FAO smoothed the way. My first duty station was Spain, and while Peruvian Spanish had its variances, my Spanish skills quickly returned.

    RAO. If you mean Regional Affairs Officer, I am not as familiar with that. That's an acronym with a couple of usages, such as the Retired Affairs Office on military bases.

    I do not believe you get to be one of these right out of a commissioning source. Proving yourself as a top performer in your original warfare community, plus a gift for learning languages, are prerequisites. Taking the long view, gaining some desirable language skills at SA or college can't hurt, or maintaining fluency in languages already acquired.
     
  3. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Oh gosh. I was going to say the difference was looks, uniform and physical fitness. :)
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    So stipulated!
     
  5. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Capt MJ nailed it for FAOs. What I remember of RAOs is there is no language requirement and is supposed to have more focus. It also tends to be slightly more senior officers than FAOs. I have two friends, one went FAO and other went RAO. One had extensive language experience in a fairly uncommon language through his Mormon mission. He had to do refresher training and earn his Masters. The other who was an RAO just did education. They are often lumped together, biggest difference tends to be language capability.

    As mentioned this cannot be selected out of TBS. It is applied for and highly selective. More than anything do well, apply for what you want, and let cards fall where they may.

    Oh and tons of info on Google on this stuff.
     

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