Does an overseas, diplomatic assignment in a U.S. Embassy interest you? Do you like to travel, experience foreign cultures and learn new languages? If so, you may want to consider an assignment as a Coast Guard attaché (COGATT) or in an enlisted attaché support staff billet in the Defense Attaché Service (DAS). COGATT program personnel currently serve in 14 embassies (with more on the way) representing the Department of Defense and the Coast Guard while working as a part of the embassy’s country team of diplomatic professionals and federal agencies to promote and protect U.S. interest abroad. The role of the COGATT has become increasingly important to Coast Guard operations, and often serves as the sole Coast Guard representative in country.
Responsibilities of an attaché
Officially, the principal duties of an accredited Coast Guard attaché are to:
- Represent the Commandant of the Coast Guard. When the COGATT is also the senior defense official/defense attaché (SDO/DATT), he or she will also represent the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regional combatant commander (COCOM) and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to their counterparts in the host government.
- Observe and report developments and significant events in the country (or countries) of accreditation
- Act as a military advisor to the chief of mission
- Represent the Coast Guard and DOD in security assistance affairs and other matters as necessary
The rewards of a unique experience
The DAS plays a vital role in supporting the national interests of the United States. During a time of crisis, COGATTs are often at the center of action. Since 1987, the men and women who have had the opportunity to serve as a COGATT have significantly influenced the Coast Guard’s international relations while simultaneously:
- Coordinating administrative and security matters for all in-country U.S. military
- Working as part of the embassy’s “country team,” the ambassador’s key advisors
- Perfecting language skills and area knowledge for greater effectiveness
- Developing a new appreciation for the complexities of the international environment and foreign military doctrine
The DAS is looking for individuals who thrive on adventure, challenge and change, and can adapt easily to the world around them, and although officer assignments are handled on the Intel, Engineering, & C4IT slate, these opportunities are open to officers in paygrades from O4-O6 in any career specialty. Enlisted opportunities currently exist within the BM and IS ratings. COGATTs and attaché support staff:
- Become involved in the local culture;
- Influence peoples’ opinions and understanding of the United States and its policies; and
- Are often the first U.S. citizens a local military official will get to know on a personal basis
Many will see the United States as it really is for the first time, through the attaché’s demeanor, reputation, and attitude. This requires mature individuals who are:
- Sensitive to cultural differences
- Knowledgeable about the mission
- Able to communicate U.S. government policies on political-military issues
Specialized attaché training
Along with their partners from the DOD services, COGATTs are specially trained for their service abroad. Their training includes:
- Introduction to the local culture and social customs of the country
- Familiarity with the politics of the country
- Understanding of the host country’s foreign policy and military affairs
- Language instruction (as required)
In addition to training prospective COGATTs, the COGATT program enables spouses to participate in a highly recommended voluntary spouse training program. Duplicating much of the training offered to the service member, spouses are also able to receive language training and participate in a tailored training program at the Joint Military Attaché School.
The Family as a Team
Like traditional diplomatic personnel, COGATTs are expected to take their families to post (at present, all COGATT Program assignments are accompanied billets). The COGATT, spouse, and other family members work as a team. They participate in a variety of social and diplomatic functions. COGATT families can derive great benefits from exposure to different cultures such as learning a second language and making new friends who last a lifetime.
The Next Step
If you are interested in applying for a position in the Coast Guard attaché program or want more information, please take a look at our CGPortal Page. You may also contact the program manager, Lt. Cmdr. Eric S. Burley, via email at email@example.com or by calling (202) 372-2772.