By Natela Cutter, Strategic Communications
The general in charge of all the Army’s training and doctrine, Gen. Martin Dempsey, says that the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center “is a great educational treasure for the Army.”
Dempsey, who spent the day touring DLIFLC Sept. 24, shared his thoughts of the value of language and culture training for servicemembers.
“Culture and foreign language are one of those tools that allow us to build the kind of leaders that are adaptive and can win in (a competitive) environment,” said Dempsey, explaining that the ever changing military operating environment has been affected by globalization and the rapid advancement of technology. “As a result, the leaders who encounter that competitive environment have to win in that learning environment. They have to learn faster than their potential adversaries.”
During his visit to DLIFLC classrooms, Dempsey had an opportunity to interact with servicemembers and find out what type of methodology and technology is used to aid students in their acquisition of language and culture.
“Pashto is a hard language to learn because the word meanings vary so much from dialect to dialect. What may be an expression for children in one village, may be an expression for animals in another. You can easily insult an entire village if you make that mistake,” said Pashto student Staff Sgt. Matt Russell.
In response to a question about ARFORGEN, a tiered readiness and sequential deployment rotational model based on progressive readiness requirements, Dempsey said “Providing the culturally aware language skilled Soldiers and leaders, in accordance with ARFORGEN, is not only possible, but an imperative for us.”
Stating that ARFORGEN is a mechanism that provides the ability to “see ourselves,” Dempsey added, “One of the things that we have to do is match the tactical adaptations we have made in the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan with the institutional adaptations. We have to adapt our policies and processes to ensure that we provide the Soldiers with the right skills.”
Dempsey also visited DLIFLC’s Student Learning Center, which provides the first week of instruction for all students, in English grammar, area studies and student learning techniques according to learner types.
“Some of the techniques used here to deliver education have applicability in different areas (of TRADOC),” said Dempsey, referring to the possibility of applying DLIFLC student learning strategies to other TRADOC schools.
“DLI is a test-bed for emerging technologies and how to not only deliver skills in the near term education, but also for life long learning,” said Dempsey.
TRADOC’s top general said that though he had read a lot about DLIFLC in PowerPoint presentations, seeing the facilities, and talking to the leadership, instructors and students, made a big difference in his understanding of the Institute’s mission.
“It (DLIFLC) has an incredibly talented faculty, a large population of dedicated students, who are more than willing to tell you what is working and what not,” he said, having visited both Persian Farsi and Afghan Pashto classes.
Along with his aides, Dempsey also visited the Continuing Education Directorate, which provides resident sustainment and advanced language courses, distance learning, and teacher Mobile Training Teams which provide cultural awareness and basic language pre-deployment training.