Cultural Awareness and Language Capabilities

What is it? Cultural awareness is the ability to understand the "how and why" of foreign cultures and the roles that culture, religion, and geography have in military operations. Foreign language capability extends beyond linguists, intelligence analysts, and interrogators to every Soldier and leader. It is an integral part of fostering a cultural awareness capability.

What has the Army done? The Army is pursuing a variety of initiatives to enhance its capability in cultural awareness and foreign language. In accordance with the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap, the Army is incorporating cultural awareness training into all levels of professional military education. The U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona developed an 80-hour modular cultural awareness training program for deploying units and other branch schools. The Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas provides online training material in cultural awareness and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) at the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, California incorporates cultural awareness in its language familiarization training for deploying units. They also provide other supplementary materials.

The Army offers Soldiers a variety of ways to obtain foreign language skills and actively recruits native speakers from heritage communities. Language specialists primarily attend DLIFLC which offers online sustainment training through its Global Language Network and its Global Language Online Support System. The Army recently began providing online basic language training through Army Knowledge Online with "Rosetta Stone®." This is a state-of-the-art commercial software product intended for use by all Soldiers and Army civilians. Another venue for language learning is the Satellite Communication for Learning. It is a private venture that provides real time broadcasts in several foreign languages. This program is available to all Soldiers free of charge.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army continues to develop, update, and expand its offering of cultural awareness training and foreign language materials at all levels. The Army will continue to explore new and innovative ways in which to incorporate cultural awareness and foreign language capability training and education in its Soldier and leader development programs as well as unit predeployment training.

Why is this important to the Army? To enable the Army to operate in today's complex environments, Soldiers at all levels must possess some cultural awareness and foreign language capability. It is no longer sufficient for limited numbers of Soldiers in specialized skill sets and units to possess these capabilities.