Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 12

travel and study opportunities to keep language skills current: foreign language skills are perishable. If the Army expects to have officers—and not just contractors—who can support the new engagement warfighting function with needed language skills, it should rethink how it manages foreign language programs. Administering the Defense Language Proficiency Test to cadets is convenient for the Army because college and university ROTC departments have access to the examinations. The test is already funded. Test control officers are available, and Army Regulation 11-6, Army Foreign Language Program (2009), authorizes testing. Beyond the languages needed to engage and connect with host-nation partners, the Army has realized its leaders need an understanding of cultures, histories, and numerous local or regional characteristics. Encouraging the study of history is one way to provide this type of knowledge, but the history requirement for ROTC cadets consists of a single military history class. Programs such as ROTC’s “Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program” help students gain regional expertise. Other study abroad programs are available. The Army could benefit by developing more officer candidates through in-depth study of certain cultures and languages and promptly assigning new graduates to the regions studied. The U.S. Army Cadet Command has begun offering security cooperation training as part of an increased emphasis on language, regional expertise, and cultures. Each year, as many as 1,400 cadets receive the opportunity to participate in three-week training events with host-nation militaries. Teams of 10 cadets provide rudimentary English language instruction, participate in medical training exercises, and embed with unit training. The cadets learn to appreciate the challenges of cultural differences and language barriers. Many look back on this training as career and life changing. An infantry platoon leader, for instance, with a basic ability to speak French or Arabic—having earned college credit for a regional studies course or study abroad program perhaps in Morocco—would be invaluable to a battalion commander conducting a security force assistance mission in North Africa. The Army could ensure it has hundreds more new officers entering with these types of skills every year. The End State Science, technology, engineering, mathematics, language, and cultural expertise will be core skills for Army leaders in the near future. The Army must prepare its leaders to apply strategic landpower starting when they are cadets and continuing right into their first assignments as lieutenants. A focus on STEM is imperative for the Army to gain technical expertise. Cyber-based mission command systems, web-based training venues, satellite communications, and even basic office automation are the technological instruments for an expeditionary army. Proficiency in at least one additional language will be essential—even a speaking proficiency level of 1+ (able to maintain predictable face-to-face conversations and satisfy limited social demands) can help l XY\