Laughlin instructor pilots accepted as foreign area officers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Anne McCready
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—Two instructor pilots, Maj. Will Smith, 47th Operations Group chief of training, and Capt. Andrew Campbell, 47th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations, stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, were selected to become foreign affairs officers.

The U.S. Air Force has countless jobs, many of which are technically focused, such as security forces, medical technicians and air traffic controllers. However, every once in a while, the Air Force has opportunities for Airmen to break the mold and take on a different type of duties.

Contrary to most jobs, Smith sees international affairs as a unique chance to personalize the uniform.

“This is a chance to build international partnerships,” Smith said. “Understanding the human element is important to me especially because it ties back to our job of training students.”

As foreign area officers, Smith and Campbell will be working with leaders around the world. They’ll be furthering the United States’ relationships with other countries and increasing global security by integrating security cooperation activities, advancing partner capabilities and the United States’ ability to interoperate with other countries and developing international Airmen.

Smith will begin the process of becoming a foreign area officer by starting out at the Defense Language Institute studying Russian for a year. He’ll then travel to an embassy for 60 days followed by another year spent obtaining his masters.

Following training, he’ll be assigned to the European command where he’ll serve in a staff role.

One thing Smith enjoys is bridging the gap between the culture he is used to and other cultures. In his experience, it goes a long way to show respect and interest and make an effort to speak the language of others.

“Most people speak English, but when you speak another language, it’s a big part of building trust and relationships,” Smith said.

In 2021, Campbell will be leaving to complete his masters as well. He’ll then go on to four months of training in Asia to develop his language skills and better understand how embassies work. Following this, he’ll spend eight months as a desk officer for the Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs to learn about foreign military sales.

Campbell will be assigned to a U.S. embassy in Australia where he’ll be a security cooperation officer.

Campbell set the goal of being a foreign area officer back in 2014, and he has been learning Indonesian to obtain that goal.

“I’m looking forward to living in another country, and I see it as a fun, new adventure,” Campbell said. “I want to be able to use my skills to improve ties between the U.S. and partner nations.”

Laughlin is proud to be sending two of Team XL’s instructor pilots to do even more than fly and fight. They will represent the U.S. Air Force and increase partnerships with allied countries, leading international Airmen.