“DLI is the crown jewel of our Department of Defense’s language and culture effort.” These were the words of Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), after visiting with students attending Dari classes at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Aug 17.
During Cone’s visit, he met with DLIFLC leadership, received mission briefings and toured several classroom sites at the Presidio of Monterey. “It was an honor to have Gen. Cone here to show him how much time and effort that these servicemembers put into their training and how seriously we take our mission,” said Col. Danial D. Pick, the Commandant of DLIFLC.
Cone toured Dari classrooms and sat through student-led demonstrations of how a technologically advanced language classroom functions. “DLI has exceeded my expectations. What I saw was a sound and rigorous program that is fully taking advantage of technology and the imagination of the young generation of Soldier, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in the classroom and I think that the digital applications in technology and learning is what captivates the minds of these young “millennials,” Cone said.
Cone was also impressed with the quality of the students he interacted with during the visit. “The most impressive thing I saw today was a demonstration by E3s and E4s that were telling me how they were doing business and I asked them, ‘would you ever imagine doing something like this’ and they said ‘no, not in a million years,’ and they were very pleased with their training,” Cone explained.
Retaining lessons learned from our previous and current armed conflicts and staying trained for future national security needs was also a predominant theme for Cone. “We have to make sure that all of the advances and lessons learned that we’ve achieved during the last ten years are continued into the future,” he said. “We’ve been engaged in two wars and we have adapted masterful programs to raise our language and culture proficiency. An important question is, in the next war we go to, how will we make sure those capabilities are there from the start. I think this has to do with greater regional engagement and we have a lot to learn from our Special Forces brethren in terms of how they look at this problem and how they plan ahead of time and that will be the challenge in the future,” Cone said.
Cone also believes that the culture of highly adaptable language training is something that will not vanish because operations seem to be drawing down in Iraq and eventually Afghanistan. “We have a cadre of highly experienced young leaders who have extensive combat experience who understand the value of language and cultural training. They will continue to demand it and we have to continue to make sure that we provide adequate resources to meet these challenges in the future,” said Cone.
Cone’s parting comments to the DLIFLC Command Group were one of praise and motivation that DLIFLC needs to continue the fight for language capabilities saturation within the forces. “DLI has led the way in these last ten years. I can tell you that as a customer from operational units and now as the TRADOC commander,” Cone said.
“What we have to do is look to the future, but now we are largely focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, but the reality of it is, is that we will be in an Army that is focused on contingencies and we need to make sure that wherever the next venture is that we start, we come into it with a very high level of language and cultural understanding. I think that’s going to mean a different role for DLI in addressing the general population of conventional units,” Cone explained.
Story and Photos by
Brian Lamar, Strategic Communications