U.S. European Command’s Air Force foreign area officers (FAO) inaugurated the Air Force EUCOM FAO Symposium on May 19 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Thirty-nine FAOs from around the world participated in the full day of academic discussions, professional development and innovative collaboration workshops. Ten additional FAOs also participated virtually during the afternoon sessions.
The symposium was led by the Air Force’s senior regional FAO (SRF) in EUCOM, Col. Christina Vile, and featured presentations by FAOs with over 80 years of collective experience in international affairs. They led discussions on security cooperation, leadership in a U.S. Embassy as a senior defense official, and continued FAO development within the EUCOM area of responsibility.
Also featured was the George C. Marshall Center’s Dr. Cueneyt Guerer, who gave a presentation on Türkiye’s current geopolitical landscape and likely implications for Europe based on the possible outcomes of the current presidential elections.
“The investment the U.S. Air Force is making in our FAO community is obvious in the positive changes that have developed over the last few years,” Vile said. “Our teammates enjoyed this much-needed opportunity to gather as a community face to face and spend some time covering timely updates from the career field, as well as mentorship and career mapping discussions. I appreciate the collaboration from our joint FAO colleagues as well.”
During the symposium, the Air Force FAOs conducted a collaborative workshop, where they led small-group discussions on challenges unique to the Air Force FAO community. At the end of the workshop, Vile chaired a decision board where a list of common challenges was categorized into two groups: challenges that could be solved within the EUCOM Air Force FAO team, and challenges that needed Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs support. Then, a point of contact was assigned to each challenge to lead development of a solution and/or garner support from SAF/IA. Progress on the resolution of each challenge will be briefed by each POC at the next symposium.
FAOs serve as military diplomats, specializing as regional experts who engage across domains to support U.S. national security interests and promote international partnerships. They are stationed across the world as military leaders in U.S. embassies, combatant command staffs and geographically separated units that have high levels of contact with Allies and partners. The U.S. Air Force adopted a single-track model for the foreign area officer career field in 2021, where SAF/IA is responsible for the talent management all USAF FAOs.
“I'm proud of the team for pulling together such an incredible first symposium and feel lucky to be part of this team of joint professionals, and I'm very grateful to SAF/IA for the support to this gathering of EUCOM FAOs,” Vile said.