By Natela Cutter
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center is providing the language training support for a new Pentagon program called Afghan/Pakistan Hands, designed to develop expertise in a cadre of personnel who will contribute to the effective implementation of U.S. strategy in the region.
“The purpose of the language acquisition portion of the AF/PAK Hands (APH) program is to develop language capability in designated personnel, which will enable them to better execute their respective missions in theater,” said Army Lt. Col. James Howard, associate dean of the Multi-Language school where Dari and Pashto are taught.
“Our initial responsibility has been to develop curricula for four-month courses in Dari, Pashto, and Urdu, which will be taught through the DLI-Washington Office.” The goal of the new program, led by the Joint Staff Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell (PACC), is to develop a cadre of personnel who will perform repeat tours in theater, each time learning more about the culture, language and tribal dynamics, allowing them to use their experience and cultural and linguistic knowledge to better implement counterinsurgency doctrine.
DLIFLC has been asked by the PACC to support the language component of this paradigm-changing program. Going beyond typical pre-deployment language training, APH students will receive a four-month resident language course designed to develop students toward an elementary proficiency in listening, reading and speaking.
“At the completion of this course, students will be automatically enrolled in a distance learning course that they will accomplish while deployed in theater, which is designed to maintain and enhance their language proficiency,” said Army Lt. Col. Randy Smith, director of the DLIFLC Washington, D.C. office.
To facilitate language learning, APHs will be issued tablet personal computers and portable media devices to use during the resident course, the distance learning course, and subsequent post-deployment language training. The end-state goal is to have leaders proficient in the language and culture of the region.
“Our Institute will provide the language training using adapted curricula from our basic courses, and then continue to provide support via distance learning tools to help them maintain the language,” said DLIFLC AF/PAK program manager Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Santucci.
“The Distance Learning portion of the language course is to be conducted while students are deployed in theater. DLIFLC will provide instructors as e-mentors to conduct assessment and feedback on student progress,” explained Marine Lt. Col. Robert Lucius, assistant dean of DLIFLC’s Continuing Education Directorate.
DLIFLC has been involved with the PACC from the very beginning to determine the language requirements of this program and has moved with amazing speed in developing the curriculum for the abbreviated course.
“This process was complicated by the fact that classroom instruction would be accomplished on the East Coast through the DLI-Washington Office, but we were able to link up a sound curriculum, qualified teachers, tablet PCs and iPods, for APH students in less than two months from the initial request,” explained Lucius.
“This is a fundamental shift in how we prepare for war and DLI is proud to be a part of it,” said DLIFLC Commandant Col. Sue Ann Sandusky.