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.