Maj. Gen. Charles W. Hooper, director of strategic plans and programs for the U.S. Africa Command, shared some of his life experiences with Foreign Area Officers stationed at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and the Naval Postgraduate School Tuesday.
“There is no secret to success...do the best you can, take jobs that are fulfilling, don’t chase the rainbow and work as hard as you can,” said Hooper, to more than 100 officers and staff who attended the event.
Hooper, who graduated from DLIFLC in May 1987 from the Chinese Mandarin Basic Course, has worked his way from an infantry second lieutenant to major general with AFRICOM, which aims to protect American interests on that continent and assist its countries in their own defense.
“You need to be agile, flexible and responsive… and have a broad skill set because you may get an offer that requires universal skills,” he said, advising FAOs to stay abreast of current events regardless of their area of assignment. “You have to stay current and connected.”
“Language is a window,” into the world of other cultures, he said. “If you can tell a joke and get them to laugh, that is success.”
In addition to studying Chinese at DLIFLC, Hooper also studied Chinese at West Point, and was stationed in Beijing from 2007 to 2009 as U.S. Defense Department attaché.
“You have to network and be sensitive to power relationships… and keep up with the people you meet,” said Hooper explaining that people he encountered earlier in his career who were interns or upstart business entrepreneurs later in life became assistant secretaries of State, or CEOs of large companies.
“Rule number 62 says ‘always be nice to interns because you may end up working for one,’” he said, referring to his own set of rules.
Summing up his speech to a crowd of smiling officers, Hooper reiterated that the real recipe for success is hard work, honesty, and doing the right thing.
“When all is said and done, all that is left is the people you love,” alluding to the need of taking care of one’s family during a FAO career path.
Story and photo credits
Natela Cutter, DLIFLC PAO/StratComm
Photo: Maj. Gen. Charles W. Hooper, director of strategic plans and programs for the U.S. Africa Command, was key-note speaker at the Joint Foreign Area Officer Conference held at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center on Jan. 15, 2013.