DLIFLC takes on new commandant

by | Jul 2, 2024 | News

Maj. Gen. Richard Appelhans, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, Arizona, speaks during the change of command ceremony at DLIFLC July 2, 2024.

After serving successfully for three years, Col. James Kievit relinquished command of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey, California, to Col. Christy Whitfield July 2, 2024.

The change of command ceremony was presided over by Maj. Gen. Richard Appelhans, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

During his speech, Appelhans talked about the importance of DLIFLC.

“The DoD charges DLI with the extremely valuable and difficult mission to train service members in new languages that enable worldwide intelligence efforts,” he said. “We live in a time of rising uncertainty and conflict around the world and the demand for trained, proficient and culturally astute linguists is not going away any time soon.”

These increased demands require strong leaders, Appelhans continued. “For the past three years, James Kievit has delivered on that requirement.”

Col. Christy Whitfield accepts the DLIFLC guidon, a symbol of command, during a change of command ceremony, held at Soldier Field July 2, 2024.

Just 30 days after classes went back to full time and in person, Kievit took on the role of commandant. Not only was COVID-19 still on everyone’s mind, but there was a push for students to graduate at a listening and reading level of 2+/2+, according to the Interagency Language Roundtable scale. This push put immense pressure on not only the students but also the teachers and detracted from other efforts. It was during his tenure at DLIFLC that Kievit had the answer: get graduations to a rate of 80% achieving 2/2, 40% achieving 2+/2+ and 10% reaching a level 3/3.

“[Kievit] offered a dramatically different conditions-based approach rather than a time-based approach for language training,” Appelhans told the crowd gathered at the ceremony. The effects of this new approach made a difference since Kievit’s arrival at DLIFLC in 2021, he said. Only 62% of graduates could meet the proficiency standards in the basic course at that time. Those numbers rose under Kievit’s leadership, with graduates now meeting a 71/39/9 proficiency rate.

“I am certain that the foundation you provided will allow DLI to reach the 80/40/10 goal in the near future,” he said.

Col. James Kievit speaks during the change of command ceremony held at Soldier Field July 2, 2024.

In his speech, Kievit told the attendees, “DLIFLC, its people and its unique mission have captured my heart over these last three year. We have grown together, learned together and accomplished much.”

Taking over as commandant, Col. Christy Whitfield comes to DLIFLC from MacDill Air Force Base, where she served as the division chief of the Intelligence Directorate for Special Operations Command. She has served in a variety of intelligence special operations and joint assignments over her 21-year career.

“I am absolutely confident that Christy brings not only tactical proficiency but also cultural and intellectual ability to succeed in this challenging command,” Appelhans said.

“I am extremely humbled by and greatly appreciative of this leadership opportunity,” Whitfield said in her speech. “I look forward to working together…to advance the DoD’s foreign language mission.”

DLIFLC is regarded as one of the finest schools for foreign language instruction in the world. The institute provides resident instruction in 12 languages to approximately 2,500 military service members, five days a week, seven hours per day, with two to three hours of homework each night. Generally, students spend between 36 and 64 weeks at the Presidio, depending on the difficulty of the language.