Liaison officer

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Naval liaison officers from Malaysia and Thailand coordinate efforts

A liaison officer is a person who liaises between two organizations to communicate and coordinate their activities. Generally, liaison officers are used to achieve the best utilization of resources or employment of services of one organization by another. Liaison officers often provide technical or subject matter expertise of their parent organization. Usually an organization embeds a liaison officer into another organization to provide face-to-face coordination.

Military Liaison Officers (LNOs)

In the military, liaison officers may coordinate activities to protect units from collateral damage. They also work to achieve mutual understanding or unity of effort among disparate groups.[1] For incidence or disaster management, liaison officers serve as the primary contact for agencies responding to the situation.

Community Liaison Officers (CLOs)

In the foreign service, community liaison officers support employees and family members who are assigned to foreign embassies.[2] In the United States foreign service, they are charged with building community spirit and enhancing morale at post. Currently, CLOs operate at over 200 U.S. missions worldwide, including several unaccompanied posts such as Baghdad, Kabul, and Islamabad.[3]


Since one of the primary tasks of a liaison is often to coordinate activities between two or more organizations, people in these positions typically need to possess strong language and communication skills. This presents a challenge in the case of CLOs, who are posted to missions in their capacity as a spouse. Many have therefore not received the necessary training in order to be proficient in the local language prior to being posted overseas. According to some commentators, this makes it difficult for many CLOs to be effective at their jobs.[4] In his words, Eddie Walsh argues, "Unfortunately, it is hard to understand how CLO Coordinators can effectively liaise with the local community to provide 'programming, information, resources, and referrals' about off-post activities and on-the-economy services when they are not required to be fluent in the local language." Others disagree. For example, George Wilcox counters, "In the 1990's my wife served twice as CLO, once in Central Asia, where she didn't speak the language and once in Brazil, where she did. She did an excellent job in both places, mostly because of her empathy for family members and her proactive involvement in helping them to adjust successfully to life in the two countries."[5]


  1. Chairman, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Civil-Military Operations, Joint Publication (JP) 1-02 (Washington, DC: CJCS, amended through October 15, 2001), p. 250.
  2. "CLO Program". Retrieved 2015-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "CLO Program". Retrieved 2015-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Time to Rethink the CLO Position | USC Center on Public Diplomacy". Retrieved 2015-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Time to Rethink the CLO Position | USC Center on Public Diplomacy". Retrieved 2015-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>