The Navy must re-invigorate its FAO program to better deal with future threats.
Two of the most important topics in the Navy today are Human Capital Strategy (HCS) and how the military can better transition to and from hostilities. Both received ample coverage in a Proceedings article written by retired General Robert Scales. Scales's article discusses building military capacity for culture-centric warfare through "a cadre of global scouts." 1 The Department of Defense (DoD) also recognizes the importance of culture-centric warfare. In October 2004, Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld released a memo stating "foreign language skill and regional and cultural expertise are essential enabling capabilities for DoD activities in the transition to and from hostilities." DoD recently released the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap which highlighted these same issues. 2
Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) are at the heart of this culture-centric issue. FAOs are also at the convergence of Human Capital Strategy and improvement of the Navy's transition capabilities. While General Scales never specifically mentions the FAO program, the DoD memo did. In April 2005, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz asked the services to provide him with detailed FAO action plans by 30 June. 3