DLIFLC Commandant teaches FAOs how to navigate through careers

DLIFLC Commandant teaches FAOs how to navigate through careers

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Commandant, Col. David Chapman, told a group of Foreign Area Officers in training June 12, that performance, reputation, and the learning of foreign languages and culture are some of the most important things to keep in mind while building their careers. “Performance trumps everything,” said Chapman, adding that reputation is equally as important because of opportunities to serve in unique positions at home and around the world. “Your reputation has already started, right here today, and the first impression is really, really important,” said Chapman, who has served at U.S. Embassies in Moscow, Russia, Kiev, Ukraine, Belgrade, Serbia, and Athens, Greece, with an upcoming assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France. “It is serious business, guard your reputation.” “Stay current, read. And I don’t mean only read what is assigned to you, but understand current events, about art, history. You have to be able to have breadth of knowledge, and language is the ice-breaker.” DLIFLC hosted the Joint Foreign Area Officer Course June 8-12 at the Weckerling Center on the Presidio of Monterey. FAOs, who come from the four branches of the U.S. military, are regionally focused and are considered experts on political-military issues. Once their FAO training is completed, they are expected to serve as defense attachés, security cooperation officers and political-military planners worldwide. Three speakers were invited to share their experience gained during their work either at combatant command headquarters, as attachés, or in special operations environments. Keynote speaker Brig. Gen. Matthew L. Brand, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic...
Studying Russian in the European Union

Studying Russian in the European Union

By Natela Cutter DLIFLC Public Affairs   DAUGAVPILS, Latvia – When the political situation became heated in the Ukraine in late 2013, the U.S. Embassy in Riga, Latvia, received an urgent call. U.S. students studying Russian needed a place to continue their studies – and what better place but within the European Union, in a country where 50 percent of the population speaks Russian? “In fact, about 90 percent of the people here in Daugavpils speak Russian and use it all the time. Because we are located at the eastern most part of Latvia, most who live here are ethnic Russian,” says Sergey Simonov, the director and program manager of a company that has partnered with Daugavpils University to make the program possible. With a unique approach of customized individual and small group courses in Russian, taught by highly qualified professors, the program specializes in literature and post-Soviet studies and instructs more than 150 students from various countries annually. “The best thing about our program is that we have such a wonderful partnership with the Daugavpils University linguistics department. We expect our program to grow, precisely because of that excellent quality, convenient location and the fact that it is very safe here. Daugavpils is the best kept secret,” says Simonov, with a grin. “I spend about two hours per day talking with my family. We talk about everything that happened during the day, about life in the U.S., life here, and cover just about every topic imaginable,” said Army Spc. Taylor Johnson. In a local restaurant, friendly servers enjoy chatting in Russian with students who are trying to practice...
DLIFLC language students get a taste of Morocco

DLIFLC language students get a taste of Morocco

By Natela Cutter DLIFLC Public Affairs   RABAT, Morocco – Lance Cpl. Paul Smith never imagined that one of his most challenging language instructors would be a two-year-old. In fact, just a few years ago, Smith never thought he would be studying Arabic, let alone attend one of the nation’s most difficult military schools, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. “While studying Arabic in the classroom, I never realized the concept behind the word ‘ball.’ Thanks to Riad, now I know that it can be anything that resembles something round,” said Smith speaking about his host family’s two-year-old boy. Smith returned in April from a month-long immersion trip to Rabat, Morocco where he attended classes at local language school and had an opportunity to be immersed in the culture. With a student body of about 3,500 military service members studying some two-dozen foreign languages, DLIFLC currently sends more than 15 percent of its student body on immersion trips and plans to increase that number gradually over the next five years. “I am deeply convinced that sending students on in-country immersions is critical to language acquisition,” said DLIFLC Commandant Col. David K. Chapman. “Students not only have the opportunity to practice their language but gain in confidence and are exposed to the culture, sights, sounds, historical places, food, people and way of life. This can’t be replicated anywhere.” For Smith and 10 of his classmates who traveled to Morocco, the trip was an experience of a lifetime. “There is no book you can learn this from, this is real, you can touch it, see it, feel...
California Medical Detachment changes command

California Medical Detachment changes command

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Col. Rex A. Berggren relinquished command of the California Medical Detachment to Lt. Col. Bill A. Soliz during a ceremony on Soldier Field at the Presidio of Monterey, California, June 4. The medical detachment, better known as CALMED, operates the Presidio’s health clinic for service members assigned to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language and the Naval Postgraduate School. In his final remarks to the detachment, Berggren quoted King Solomon saying “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” He recounted his fondest memories from his two-year command and associated them with a line from the King Solomon quote. He concluded by saying “there is a season to let go.” The ceremony was officiated by Col. Ramona Fiorey, commander of Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington. Madigan is the support organization for the clinic at the Presidio. Fiorey humorously spoke about the challenges of commanding a medical detachment more than 1,000 miles away from its parent hospital. “This command requires the strength of Superman, the agility of Spiderman, the diplomatic acumen of Henry Kissinger, and the commitment of Captain America,” said Fiorey. “Fortunately, Col. Berggren is a super hero.” Soliz, now the new commander, thanked the outgoing commander for his service and accepted the challenge of leading the medical...
DLIFLC students win in annual Russian essay contest

DLIFLC students win in annual Russian essay contest

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – Six Russian language students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center received awards from the American Council of Teachers of Russian for their entries in the National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest. Dr. Betty Lou Leaver, DLIFLC Provost, presented the awards to four of the students June 3. Staff Sgt. Arturas Karizskis won a gold medal, Spc. Aleksandr Didarov won a bronze medal, and Staff Sgt. Ilya Volovik and Staff Sgt. Almaz Jamankulov received honorable mention. “This is the only competition of its type in that it is not only native English speakers learning Russian competing, but also the best of heritage Russian speakers,” said Leaver. The contest is divided into categories depending on the source of the student’s Russian capability. All of the DLIFLC students participated in Category C of the contest, intended for students born to Russian speaking families but received most or all of their education in English. Volovik, who received honorable mention, praised his instructors for their mentorship and helping him succeed. “We couldn’t have gotten these awards without the great teachers we have here,” said Volovik. “The credit really goes out to them.” The contest included more than 1,000 participants from 68 universities, colleges and institutions. This year’s topic was “A very interesting day in my life.” The contest has been held annually since 1999. Students’ essays are judged by leading professors of Russian language studies at Moscow State University. Gold, silver or bronze certificates of accomplishment are awarded, along with honorable...
Naval Attachés visit DLIFLC

Naval Attachés visit DLIFLC

By Patrick Bray DLIFLC Public Affairs   MONTEREY, Calif. – The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, California, hosted about 40 foreign naval attachés and their spouses June 1. DLIFLC Commandant, Col. David K. Chapman, welcomed the attachés to the institute and gave them an overview of how DLIFLC trains linguists for the armed services. Chapman, a Foreign Area Officer and three-time graduate of DLIFLC, spoke about his own experience learning Russian, Serbian-Croatian, and Greek. “People often don’t realize how big we are, they assume that we are a single ‘institute’ or building, but when they come here, they are amazed by all the things we do, the capabilities that we have, and the number of military service members we train,” said Chapman, explaining that the perception about DLIFLC is often that it is a small school that only trains foreign area officers. DLIFLC trains approximately 3,500 service members in 23 languages, most of whom are new to the military. The attachés visited classrooms in the European and Latin American school to get a firsthand look at just a fraction of the languages offered. Defense, Military, Naval, and Air Attaché of Finland Capt. Timo Stahlhammar observed a Serbian-Croatian class and was impressed with the students’ learning, especially that they were so young and new to the military. “I didn’t understand anything that was being said, but hearing the students speak to each other I could tell that they were communicating,” said Stahlhammar. Stahlhammar commended the students and their instructor for their hard work and success. He encouraged the students to keep up their language skills once...
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