Military News

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

CENTCOM Theater Course offered on JBER

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

1/27/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The U.S. Central Command Theater Course is coming to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson the first week of February. Two separate three-day iterations of the course are being offered: Feb 1 to 3 and Feb 3 to 5.

The course is designed for special operations personnel who will be operating in the CENTCOM theater, with emphasis on special operations forces aviation. The focus audiences include combat aviation advisors, aviation special tactics personnel, and standard and non-standard aviation mission planners. Other audiences include non-aviation SOF and those who support them.

One of the training organizers, Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, 703d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, said the course is beneficial to any Airman or Soldier of any rank or career field.

"For decades, SOF have been involved with face-to-face cross-cultural interaction," Bliss said. "In today's high operations tempo environment, regular Airmen and Soldiers are involved in cross-cultural interactions that previously would have only involved SOF. Cross-cultural training is beneficial for you no matter if you're in intelligence picking targets or in civil engieering making road repairs. Every year, many units and people from JBER deploy to the CENTCOM theater, and 2016 will be no exception"

Some of the topics covered include the history of Islam, Arab social and military culture, introduction to Iraq and Syria, Islamic radicalization and terrorism, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. foreign policy and the Arab spring, Iran: engagement vs. containment, Yemen, Pakistan and India, the drawdown in Afghanistan, Central Asia; and Afghanistan Transition and Development.

"This orientation course is important for all military members as we work to understand the layered complexities of the Middle East and Central Asia," said Air Force Maj. Justin Hickey, Deputy Division Chief for Theater Engagement at the USAF Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Florida. "Simultaneously, it will help our people better appreciate our CENTCOM allies and their culture, regardless of the type of deployment. The training originates from the SOF schoolhouse, but has been tailored to introduce Airmen and Soldiers of all backgrounds to CENTCOM's culture and security concerns."

According to Bliss, the training initiative's purpose is to develop Airmen.

"Equipping our Airmen with knowledge, understanding, and training to better accomplish their mission is our mission as tactical and operational leaders," Bliss said. "Cross-cultural (political and historical) knowledge are areas of focus that will only grow in importance. It's been said, 'an intimate understanding of culture's effects on human behavior is crucial to mission success.'"

Hickey, one of the course instructors, said the main takeaway he hopes to give students is to encourage them to critically think about the complex security issues in CENTCOM.

The training will be held at the 517th Airlift Squadron auditorium, Hanger 21, on the second floor. The Feb 1 to 3 course runs from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. on days one and two, concluding with lunch at noon on the third day. The Feb 3 to 5 course runs from 1 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. on the first day, 8 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. on the second day, and from 8 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. on the third day.

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