What Does an Army National Guard Embassy Attaché Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image shows a woman in a militaristic suit speaking into an ear piece. Text reads:

Image by Ellen Lindner © The Balance 2019

Any career in the military holds the potential to take you to exotic lands, meet fascinating people from another culture, and participate in a little intrigue.

Such is the case with the attaché noncommissioned officer (NCO), a highly competitive position, although not an actual Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), that attachés soldiers to foreign embassies as military advisors.

Army National Guard Embassy Attaché Duties & Responsibilities

Officially under the control of the Defense Intelligence Agency, there's some hint that attachés may be an underappreciated source of military intelligence. Bear in mind that an enlisted attaché has many duties that, although exciting for social mavens and aspiring businesspeople, are more akin to a military-political concierge or office manager than a double-oh agent.

Army Recruiting Command's attaché info packet says that although attaché NCOs may perform "specific intelligence functions," there are many other duties ranging from mundane bookkeeping to high-profile "VIP support ...or assisting with training or other actions for the embassy's Marine Security Guard Detachment."

Army National Guard Embassy Attaché Salary

Total compensation for this position includes food, housing, special pay, medical, and vacation time, although the amount is not disclosed 

Education, Training & Certification

The training is comprehensive for this position, and includes the following:

  • Training: Everyone who survives the Army's scrutiny to become an enlisted attaché attends the Attaché Staff Operations Course for at least ten weeks at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington DC. If a soldier is assigned to a particular area of the world that requires more intense preparations, however, up to a year and a half of further training may be necessary in areas including "language training, anti-terrorism courses, or instruction on specialized equipment," according to the attaché info packet.
  • The basic course of instruction, as described by the American Council on Education (ACE) Military Guide, appears designed to lay a pretty broad foundation for attachés, reflecting the jack-of-all-trades nature of the job. The overall goal is for graduates to "be able to use Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; perform office and financial administration; and prepare a country research project explaining geography, people, and institutions and their impact on the United States."
  • Additional topics: In addition to the office training, the course covers important "[b]usiness communication topics includ[ing]...interpersonal communications, oral communication techniques, persuasive writing," and more. ACE also recommends several college transfer credits for the course that translate particularly well to a business curriculum.​

    Army National Guard Embassy Attaché Skills & Competencies

    Becoming an attaché requires experience and maturity, so it's not an entry-level position in the Army. Individuals must fulfill advanced skills and requirements to succeed in this role, such as the following:

    • Promotion: For consideration, a soldier must have been promoted to at least sergeant (E-5) and also complete the appropriate leadership course for his or her rank in the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES).
    • Testing: Those who scored below 115 on the general technical section or below 120 in clerical skills when they joined the Army should also re-take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to meet those qualifications.
    • Citizenship: Working with foreign military and diplomats means even the smallest weakness or mistake can have grave consequences for the United States' reputation. Naturally, then, a soldier who wants to go on attaché duty must be a US citizen and qualify for top secret clearance. Dependent family members aren't exempt, either. They too must be citizens, obtain a passport, and may be scrutinized if they have ties to a country or region where the Army plans to send the attaché.
    • Language ability: Finally, language ability is given prime consideration when it comes to attaché selection. Hopefuls don't need to be qualified Army interpreters; any MOS is eligible. But without skill in a foreign language, as proven with a score over 100 on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB), it's slim pickings.

    Job Outlook

    Soldiers who do an exceptional job their first go-around on attaché duty may be able to stay on for further duty, although they remain accountable for staying qualified in a primary MOS.

    For a more permanent career option in the attaché service, sergeants and above with at least three years' experience in the field may apply to become warrant officers in MOS 350L, Attaché Technician.

    Work Environment

    The embassy attaché works in an office environment and may work in different locations around the world in US Embassies within a Defense Attaché Office (DAO).

    Work Schedule

    This job typically has a full-time work schedule.

    How to Get the Job

    TRAINING

    Gain prerequisite experience and complete required training.

     

    TESTING

    Take the ASVAB Test and achieve the appropriate ASVAB Score of above 115 on the general technical section and above 120 in clerical skills.

     

    MEET ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

    Make sure that you can meet any additional requirements, such as a background investigation, secret security clearance, and foreign language requirements.

    Comparing Similar Jobs

    The following job and annual salary is an example of a civilian job that compares to a military attache position:

    • Ambassador: $124,000 to $187,000