March 25, 2006:
The U.S. Air Force is looking for 117 officers to volunteer for a training program that will turn them into International Affairs Specialists. Actually, the program will produce two different types of specialists. There will be 75 Political-Military Affairs Strategist (PAS), who will be more senior officers (12-12 years in the service) that will concentrate on the military-to-military aspects of operating in foreign countries. That means learning how to deal with their military counterparts in foreign nations (most of whom speak English.) The PAS officers will have to learn about foreign cultures, and especially how the armed forces of many foreign countries operate. There will also be 42 officers trained as Regional Affairs Strategist (RAS). These officers have to learn foreign languages and learn a lot more about the cultures of the region they are specializing in. These officers can be younger (7-10 years in the service), but their training will take longer, mainly because of the language instruction.
This new programs recognizes the usefulness of establishing closer, and more informed, relationships with locals. Rather than leave all this liaison stuff up to the State Department, or Army Special Forces, the air force will have the ability to deal with the situation using their own experts.