Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Culture, language and negotiation experts participate at Army conference

by Jodi L. Jordan
Air Force Culture and Language Center

9/24/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --  -- Five culture, language and negotiation experts from the Air Force were special guests of the U.S. Army last week, offering expertise to the premier gathering of armor and infantry soldiers for the 2013 Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Ga.

Faculty from the Air Force Culture and Language Center and Air Force Negotiation Center of Excellence here traveled to Fort Benning Sept. 12 to serve as panel members during the Regional Expertise and Cultural Integration Working Group, attended by nearly 200 soldiers, including service members from nine other nations. The conference was hosted by the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence, the largest training organization in the Department of Defense.

Topics addressed in the working group included how the Army could integrate and sustain language, regional and cultural expertise, to include cross-cultural negotiations, throughout professional military education. Also discussed was how to deliver cultural training without increasing soldiers' current course loads. These topics are non-negotiable for today's soldier, according to the lead organizer of the conference.

"In today's environment, not understanding regional and cultural expertise is not an option," said Lt. Col. Trevor Robichaux, as he introduced the AFCLC panelists. "We're trying to institutionalize this here at the MCoE. Teaching soldiers how to be able to operate in any environment - a skill set that transcends any one individual culture."

AFCLC participants were Dr. Stefan Eisen, director of the Air Force NCE; Dr. Will Dulaney, AFCLC assistant professor of organizational communication; Dr. Lauren Mackenzie, AFCLC assistant professor of cross-cultural communication; Dr. Jennifer Tucker, AFCLC professor of assessment; and Zach Hickman, AFCLC Language Division chief.

Eisen, who coordinated the AFCLC's participation, said the event was a great example of pooling geographic resources to facilitate partnerships across services.

"The MCoE reached out to their Army liaison at the Air War College to see if there was in-house expertise to support the Regional Expertise and Cultural Integration Working Group, " Eisen said. "From there, we assembled a representative group that could tell the story of how the Air Force approaches what we call 'LRCN,' or language, region, culture and negotiations. Each of these components supports the concept of an adaptive Airman, able to quickly assess environment and appropriately operate to achieve mutual mission success. At the MCoE conference, we were afforded the opportunity to share our experiences with institutionalizing cross-cultural competence in the U.S. Air Force, but we also gained useful insights on the Army's approach to these concepts."

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