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Assessing Special Operations Forces Language, Region, and Culture Needs

Assessing Special Operations Forces Language, Region, and Culture Needs


Aside from those in a few specialist fields, U.S. military personnel were not trained to any adequate level in language and culture knowledge, skills, and abilities at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the intervening years, the Department of Defense has made uneven strides in promoting the usefulness of language, region, and culture (LRC) knowledge and skills for the remainder of the force.

Dr. Sands’ monograph suggests that a reconceptualization of language and culture learning methods is necessary for United States Special Operations Command to effectively meet the challenge of looming budgetary reprioritizations to language and culture programs, while also promoting innovative blended and distance learning opportunities. He advocates a learning tool and approach that better serves SOF operational capacities and prepares them for their leading role in transnational ‘gray zone’ operations, where they must deal with a wide variety of ethnic, religious, and cultural groups that transcend geographical boundaries. The author further contends that SOF must be prepared to function in a language and cultural landscape that is highly fluid and dynamic, requiring preparation that goes beyond singular language training and static culture-specific education. He also proposes development of a LRC capability in which language proficiency is only one factor; equally important are learning events that broaden cross-cultural competence and culture-general understanding.

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Full Citation: 

Sands, Robert R. Greene. 2016. "Assessing Special Operations Forces Language, Region, and Culture Needs." Joint Special Operations University Press (June): 1-154. http://jsou.socom.mil/JSOU%20Publications/AssessingSOFCVM15June16.pdf

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