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3rd Inf. Div. prepares to deploy with language and culture training in mind

Author: Brian Lamar
DLIFLC, Strategic Communications

Cultural acuity and language proficiency can be a force multiplier for troops immersed in a foreign environment.

Not many are more educated on this fact than the 3rd Infantry Division command group, who have only a month until their next deployment to Iraq.

"Foreign language training is absolutely critical so all of our Soldiers understand the cultural nuances while interacting with leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also with the general population (in order) to have that common understanding," said Brig. Gen. Thomas Vandal, 3rd Inf. Div. Deputy Commanding General for Support.

In mid August, DLIFLC sent several native Iraqi teachers to Fort Stewart, Ga. to teach cultural awareness and survival language skills to the 3rd Inf. Div. troops who are preparing for deployment. These Mobile Training Teams have been blanketing the Armed Forces since 2005 with cultural awareness and survival language training.

"If you can understand the basic writings and scribbling on the walls, it could be more than just scribbling. It could mean anything, like an [insurgent] meeting or an IED emplacement, said Command Sgt. Major Gerardus Wykoff, who is the Military Intelligence Corps senior enlisted authority.

More than 66,000 deploying troops have received training through the DLIFLC language and culture familiarization MTT program. In most cases, units infer no cost by scheduling and receiving these training packages.

With only a month until the 3rd Infantry Division begins another 12-month tour in Iraq, commanders are aware of the capability that has been added to their division.

"The 3rd Inf. Div. has sent about 300 Soldiers through the language training course. We believe that this is absolutely critical for them to continue to develop their cultural understanding and language skills in order to further interact with the local population, as well as some of the various key leader engagements that they will interact in," said Vandal.

According to one student in the latest language and culture class who did not want to be named, this training will give him an advantage over previous deployments, which he felt that he was missing out on a lot of vital information that could have been handy.

"It is important to have basic language skills. If you have a basic understanding of what folks are saying out there, you can save lives...You can listen and see if insurgent activity is going on in a town. You can save lives by having this information," said Wykoff.

To see the video version of this story please click here.

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