The U.S. Air Force information officer overseas: a need for special applications of information technology
Connolly, John M., Jr
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Problem of the Study The United States has wide global commitments. Thousands of Americans are serving in overseas countries as official representatives of this nation. Air Force officers, airmen and civillian employees, and their dependents, comprise a large part of U.S. representation abroad, stationed with our Air Force organizations abroad is a small but important group of Air Force information officers. They work closely with U.S. diplomatic and information service personnel and aot as public relations advisors to their commanders, official spokesmen for the Air Force and community relations representatives. It is upon the duties and responsibilities of these officers and the necessity that they be provided special training and skills to insure better performance overseas that this study was focused. It is generally accepted that Americans serving overseas require special training and knowledge. The problem tackled in the study was to determine the urgency and degree of the requirement for training and knowledge; the areas of knowledge and special technology essential for maximum productivity of Air Force information officers overseas; and wars and means to make such knowledge available to the officers. Study Methods The following study methods were used: 1. A literature search was conducted in order to examine materials on public relations, information activities abroad, international communications, foreign language and area training, and related fields. It included an examination of materials published by the Departments of State and Defense, the Air Force, Army and Navy. 2. Overseas training facilities in Washington, D.O., were visited or contacted, and various Air Force and other government officials were interviewed. 3. A questionnaire was sent to the entire population of Air Force information officers stationed in foreign countries. It assessed their attitudes and solicited their views on overseas training. Findings and Conclusions It was concluded that: 1. Special training and knowledge are required for the improved performance of Air Force information officers serving overseas. Few Air Force I.O.s are now specifically trained for foreign duties. 2. Selection, initial training, intermediate and advanced education of Air Force I.O.s should be expanded and improved. 3. Foreign language skills and training in the host area should be emphasized, along with education in cultural differences, psychological factors, international relations and U.S. foreign policy. Implication for Future Research In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the need for foreign language skills and knowledge of overseas oulturea on the part of military officers. Special training for overseas duties has been provided special categories of Air Force officers, such as attaches, military assistance and intelligence personnel. Future research should be centered on the possible expansion of overseas training systems to include Air Force information officers as recommended in this study.
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