U.S. Embassy, London
April 15, 2014
By Jodi L. Jordan
Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach Team
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. – Three Air Force general officers will soon assume command in key overseas assignments, and they’ll come to those jobs with a deeper understanding of cross-cultural concepts, thanks to the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s General Officer Pre-Deployment Acculturation Course.
The AFCLC recently conducted three iterations of GOPAC here – intensive language and cross-cultural competence classes designed to ensure deploying leaders have the skills they need to be successful in culturally-complex environments.
Col. Darren E. Hartford, commander of the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; Brig. Gen. John Quintas, the senior defense official and defense attaché in the United Kingdom; and Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.; attended the spring 2014 GOPAC sessions. While at the AFCLC, the officers received 30 hours of formal instruction – 15 hours in language and 15 hours on culture and region. The instructional content was tailored to each officer’s needs and the mission of their deployment unit, said Ms. Mary Newbern, the AFCLC’s GOPAC coordinator.
“The ability to navigate cross-cultural challenges is of utmost importance for these senior leaders,” Ms. Newbern said. “Mission success or failure can come down to communication and respect. We give our GOPAC attendees the basic language skills, the regional understanding and the cultural context they’ll use as deployed wing commanders.”
The AFCLC provides culture learning at all levels of professional military education, from basic training for enlisted Airmen, up to the senior-executive level evidenced by GOPAC, said Mr. Jay Warwick, AFCLC director.
“Taking care of people is a top priority for our Service. Part of taking care of people means making sure they have all the right training and education to accomplish the Air Force mission, any time and any place,” Warwick said. “GOPAC is one way we provide that capability to the Air Force. It’s an honor and a privilege to have these senior officers here, and we learn as much from them as they do from us.”
The culture and region curriculum for each GOPAC class is designed and delivered by the AFCLC’s team of in-house faculty experts, led by GOPAC’s Academic Director Dr. Will Dulaney, with assistance from across Air University, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and external organizations. Language instruction is conducted by trained and certified DLIFLC personnel.
“The GOPAC attendees bring an incredible amount of knowledge and experience with them, so we make the course an executive-level conversation about how language, region and culture knowledge can make their battlespaces more understandable, and how it can set them up for success,” Dulaney said. “We partner with Air University, the Air Advisor Academy, the U.S. Special Operations School, Army Training and Doctrine Command, the Defense Language Institute – all to make sure we bring the intellectual firepower, the ‘A’ team together to prepare these senior leaders for their missions.”