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Pentagon Heritage Display Honors Foreign Area Officers

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2016 — A new display at the Pentagon honors military officers who serve as regionally focused experts in political-military operations with advanced language skills, cultural understanding and the ability to advise senior military and civilian strategic decision-makers in an era of persistent conflict.

From left, Lee Johnson, Navy senior language authority and director of the Navy Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Office; Diana Banks, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training and the Defense Department’s senior language authority; Daniel P.C. Feehan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness; and Michael Nugent, director  of the Defense Language and National Education Office, cut the ribbon to dedicate the foreign area officer heritage wall display at the Pentagon, Dec. 12, 2016. DoD photo
From left, Lee Johnson, Navy senior language authority and director of the Navy Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Office; Diana Banks, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training and the Defense Department’s senior language authority; Daniel P.C. Feehan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness; and Michael Nugent, director of the Defense Language and National Education Office, cut the ribbon to dedicate the foreign area officer heritage wall display at the Pentagon, Dec. 12, 2016. DoD photo
From left, Lee Johnson, Navy senior language authority and director of the Navy Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Office; Diana Banks, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training and the Defense Department’s senior language authority; Daniel P.C. Feehan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness; and Michael Nugent, director  of the Defense Language and National Education Office, cut the ribbon to dedicate the foreign area officer heritage wall display at the Pentagon, Dec. 12, 2016. DoD photo Heritage Display
From left, Lee Johnson, Navy senior language authority and director of the Navy Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Office; Diana Banks, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training and the Defense Department’s senior language authority; Daniel P.C. Feehan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness; and Michael Nugent, director of the Defense Language and National Education Office, cut the ribbon to dedicate the foreign area officer heritage wall display at the Pentagon, Dec. 12, 2016. DoD photo

The Defense Language and National Security Education Office dedicated the Foreign Area Officer heritage display Dec. 12 at the apex between corridors 7 and 8 on the second floor of the Pentagon.

Daniel P.C. Feehan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness, performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for readiness, hosted the ceremony. Diana Banks, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training -- the Defense Department’s senior language authority, also spoke at the dedication.

Ceremony Kicks Off Awards Program

The ceremony commenced the annual awards program for foreign area officers to recognize the capabilities and accomplishments of current and former FAOs from all of the services.

The display in the Pentagon is the first of its kind to recognize the contributions of FAOs to DoD and its allies and partners, officials said.

“As you walk through the FAO heritage wall display, you will see the history of FAOs ensuring readiness within the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard,” Feehan said. “FAOs are prepared to apply their strategic focus and regional expertise to advise senior leaders and develop and coordinate security cooperation.”

Almost 2,600 FAOs are on active duty in more than 140 countries, and their history extends to before World War II. No two FAOs fulfill the same duty, Banks said, and each serves a unique role.

Building Bridges

“They build bridges across cultures, languages, nations and organizations and serve the critical role of capacity and stability building to ensure military-to-military relationships keep an open line of communication during times of turmoil,” she explained. From defense attaché and political-military planner to arms-control specialist and liaison officer, she added, FAOs complete their overseas tours with Joint Staff, major commands, unified combatant commands and DoD agencies.