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What Are the Duties of the Military Attache?

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Being a U.S. military attaché in a foreign country involves a variety representational, diplomatic, advisory and analysis duties. The military attaché both represents the United States military to the host country and serves as the primary observer and reporter on the host country's military back to military and political officials in the U.S.

Military Representative

Military attaches are the primary representatives of the United States military in the country to which they're assigned. As such, their responsibilities include participation in ceremonial functions and military events; meetings with military counterparts from both the host country and other countries; hosting social gatherings for foreign military personnel; and oversight of the military and civilian personnel assigned to the embassy's attaché office. The military attache is typically assigned to the U.S. embassy, but also travels throughout the country and region to observe foreign military facilities and activities. He also serves as the host for any U.S. military officials visiting the host country.

Advisory Duties

In addition to representational duties, the military attache plays a key role as an adviser to the ambassador and his staff. The military attaché is expected to maintain a complete and detailed knowledge and awareness of the host country's military. This includes knowledge of the country's military capabilities, operations, training and readiness, and equipment. The attache is also the primary adviser to the ambassador on potential or actual changes in the host country's military leadership or strategies, particularly when these might affect relations with the United States.

Reporting Responsibilties

A U.S. military attaché reports back to the Defense Department on a regular basis on events in the host country that might affect U.S. military planning, operations or engagements. Of particular interest to U.S. military leaders are the host country's acquisition of new weapons systems, substantive changes in its military strategy or tactics, its arms deals with other countries and the views of influential host country military leaders regarding relations with the United States. The military attaché also works with the embassy's economic and political officers to obtain the most current information on host country military budgets and expenditures.

Military Services

In smaller overseas posts, the military attaché might be solely responsible for covering all aspects of the host country's military. In larger posts, however, there might be military attaches from each of the major U.S. service branches. In such cases, while maintaining overall situational awareness of military affairs in the host country, each attaché is responsible for reporting and advising on developments within his specific branch. For example, a U.S. air attaché monitors and reports on the host country's air force, inventory of planes and missiles, condition of airfields, status of air defense systems and the country's senior air force officials

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About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.