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Reserves of expertise: POLAD Reserve Corps assists military operations overseas.


To strengthen collaboration at the intersection of defense and diplomacy, in April 2007 the Department initiated the Foreign Policy Adviser Reserve Corps. Its aim is to establish a cadre of experienced Department of State officers--Foreign and Civil Service--available for short-term deployments to provide regional and functional expertise to U.S. military forces engaged in field training exercises and routine and crisis-response operations.

In the eight months since its creation, the POLAD Reserve Corps has grown to include approximately 90 volunteers. The Departments of State and Defense see the program as facilitating more effective collaboration and coordination.

Ideally, POLAD Reserve Corps members have regional and functional expertise, and experience both in Washington and overseas. They provide timely, actionable foreign policy advice to military commanders and clarify information received from the country team and Washington. They also know the assets and capabilities of interagency partners, understand the context within which a significant military program or activity is taking place and offer the Department direct access to the military commander.

Shortly after the program's establishment, Reserve Corps member Sarah Wolf joined the High-Speed Vessel Swift in support of its mission as the prototype for the U.S. Navy's Global Fleet Station Initiative. Wolf, a Civil Service foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs' Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers, became an integral part of the Swift team.

"I participated actively in command briefings, led discussions on Panama's domestic political scene, steered dialogue on U.S.-Panama relations and offered updates on regional political-military and security issues," she said. She added that her success depended greatly on coordination with the U.S. embassies in the Caribbean and Central America. Each country team visited by the Swift vessel contributed a Department employee who served as a "ship-rider," traveling with and assisting the vessel and crew.

Reserve Corps participant Jonathan Lalley, also a Civil Service foreign affairs officer, recently completed a 90-day tour supporting the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.


"Serving with our men and women in uniform gave me a better understanding of how the military operates and afforded me the opportunity to explain the importance of building enduring partnerships that challenge and inspire others," he said.

At CJTF-HOA, Lalley assisted with the planning and operations of the command, and his insights and coordination with country team members across East Africa helped ensure the proper alignment of diplomatic and defense initiatives. He also worked with the CJTFHOA strategic communications team to help communicate the task force's message to the local population.

In the past several months, POLAD Reserve Corps members from across the Department have taken advantage of a range of career-broadening training and development opportunities.

"We want Reserve POLADs to take advantage of program opportunities that fit their interests and availability--and help them hone their knowledge, skills and abilities," explained Major Ernesto Hernandez, one of the program's managers.


Several program participants recently benefited from training identified specifically for Reserve POLADs. Five participants from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and the U.S. embassies in Beirut and London attended the Joint Special Operations University's Interagency Collaboration Course. A corps member from the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs attended the 101st Airborne Division's pre-deployment exercise as the unit prepared to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Participants from the Operations Center and the bureaus of Diplomatic Security and Consular Affairs attended the Joint Interagency Operations Planning Exercise hosted by the Joint Forces Staff College.

"For diplomats who'd like to test whether they are as comfortable in the back of a C-130 as they are in a pinstriped suit, the POLAD Reserve Corps is a perfect fit," said Tim Sears, deputy director of PM's Office of International Security Operations. "It's a great chance to get into the field and to gain foreign policy experience you just can't gain from behind a desk."

The POLAD Reserve Corps welcomes participation by full-time foreign affairs officers and Foreign Service officers who are available for temporary-duty assignments worldwide ranging from a few weeks to several months. Candidates must obtain supervisory approval prior to deployment. Interested volunteers may register online at For more information on the POLAD Reserve Corps, call (202) 736-7079, e-mail or find "PM POLAD Reserve" in the Global Address List.

The author, an Air Force officer on detail assignment as the senior military representative to the Department, is the director of PM's Office of International Security Operations.
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Title Annotation:Foreign Policy Adviser Reserve Corps
Author:Sherlock, Lyn
Publication:State Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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