Story by Brian Lamar, Strategic Communications
On 11 June, at the Defense Language Institute’s Fort Campbell Language Training Detachment, 73 Soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division graduated from a 16-week Dari and Pashto program.
When Gen. Stanley McChrystal took command of the International Security Assistance Force, it became clear that an effective way to revitalize counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan was to have a large contingent of his troops capable of understanding the culture and have basic knowledge of the language.
To foster success, a higher emphasis is being placed on language and culture training for leaders in units during their pre-deployment training cycle. Fort Campbell was the first military installation equipped with a language training detachment designed for this purpose.
“Cultivating relationships is extremely important to the mission and the best way to cultivate those relationships is to learn the language. As a diplomacy force- multiplier, I think it [language] is important,” said Spc. Brock Redpath, the Dari course honor graduate.
The majority of the 101st Airborne Division is deployed to Afghanistan and these graduates will be arriving within three weeks.
“Afghanistan is a very critical country to us in terms of what we are trying to do strategically. The culture is very different, and what we have found is that we have to speak their language in order to develop rapport with them and understand what the real issues are to help secure the population and identify threats to us and Afghans that emerge within their population,” said Col. Danial Pick, Commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center.
For many of the 101st soldiers going through the language course, this is their first deployment and learning about Afghanistan’s culture helped alleviate normal apprehension involved with going to a foreign and hostile area.
“We all have a fear of the unknown, so the more knowledge that you can gain about your allies, as well as your enemies, will help you accomplish your mission,” said Redpath.
In November, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, published A Counterinsurgency Training Guidance which contains 17 elements which are the basis for his Campaign Continuity initiative. The initiative promotes training Soldiers in a way which will ensure that each incoming unit has an increased ability to effectively enable Counterinsurgency and Stability Operations at all levels. Language training is a key component of this initiative.
Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed a memo directing units to adopt the new Department of Defense Training strategy for pre-deployment.
The second group of 101st Soldiers is currently attending culturally-based language classes in preparation to join the fight in Afghanistan. This class of language-enabled soldiers is scheduled to graduate in September.
Two Soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division were recognized as honor graduates from the 16-week Dari and Pashto language program on Fort Campbell, by Col. Danial Pick, Commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language.
Col. Danial Pick, Commandant of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center awards a certificate of completion to Pfc. Chandler.
Mr. Ahmad Daoudzai the lead Pashto language instructor from Diplomatic Language Services (a contractor for the Defense Language Institute) speaks to graduates.
Brian Lamar, Strategic Communications
Sam Shore, Ft. Campbell PAO