SSI adviser provides cultural training
July 28, 2010
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- In an effort to avoid social taboos and win the minds and hearts of civilians in foreign lands, the Soldier Support Institute has hired a cultural adviser to teach Soldiers cultural awareness.
El-Rayah Osman, a Sudan native and professor at South Carolina State University, is one of three cultural advisers currently employed by TRADOC to provide cultural enhancement to the Army training missions.
TRADOC plans to recruit 15 cultural advisers.
"Dr. Osman was hired to educate our Soldiers about culture, specific customs expected of visitors in foreign lands and a sensitivity of the effects they may cause by being in foreign lands," said Col. Patrick Devine, Soldier Support Institute deputy commander.
Osman, who holds a doctorate in sociology, will work closely with SSI commandants and directors to ensure that cultural awareness is an integral part of SSI training programs.
"Understanding culture is the center of the success of the U.S. Army," Osman said. "I want to prepare the units for deployment and give them enough information so they can do their jobs. The Army is involved in many conflicts and Soldiers need to be sensitive and informed."
Osman, who was hired June 1, plans to establish several cultural programs in addition to the SSI cultural awareness classes he teaches. Some of those include "Brown Bag Lunches" in which attendees will talk about culture, an Arabic language program and more.
"Today's Soldier needs to be more culturally aware than ever," said Ralph Allison, Soldier Support Institute chief of staff. "The more competent a Soldier is in understanding self and foe in terms of customs, language and culture, the better the Soldier is able to accomplish the mission."
In addition to being an adviser for the Soldier Support Institute, Osman is a resource for the Fort Jackson community.
"I am affiliated with SSI, but I am a Fort Jackson (asset) so anyone can get information on culture to help prepare for deployment," he said.
Osman has also been asked to add more cultural awareness training to Basic Combat Training on the installation.
"The face of warfare has changed significantly where sometimes we are not fighting nations, but fighting terrorists with no national affiliation," Devine said. "Where once there were land masses to conquer, now there are terrorists hidden among peace and law-abiding citizens.
This change in war-fighting forces us to become more sensitive to the culture of people living in areas where we deploy."
The need for cultural awareness in the training environment will become more important in the near future. The Army Chief of Staff recently approved a new set of Warrior Tasks and Army Battle Drills, which includes Adapt to Changing Operation Environments.
"Our intent is for Dr. Osman to refine and define these requirements within the Soldier Support Institute," Devine said. "All work done by Dr. Osman will be vetted with TRADOC cultural leaders and should contribute to the Army's overall training efforts in this area."