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    300 Strike Soldiers in Language Training

    300 Strike Soldiers in Language Training

    Photo By Sgt. Joe Padula | A Strike Soldier from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade...... read more read more

    FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — He that converses not, knows nothing. The Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), understand that well as they plan to converse time and again with the Afghan people as they continue to ready themselves for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

    The Strike Brigade currently has 300 of its Soldiers involved in language training courses teaching the basics in Afghanistan's two national languages, Dari and Pashto. With the goal of breaking the communication barriers when deployed, the 2nd BCT realizes the importance of interaction among Soldier and local nationals.

    "The Strike Brigade has initiated a language training program based on General [Stanley] McChrystal's Counter Insurgency Training Guidance," said Maj. Basel Mixon, the brigade's intelligence officer. "We provide actual and relevant information to Soldiers so they can have a better understanding on the battlefield and are better able to interact with the people in Afghanistan on more pro-active terms."

    McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, recently directed there to be at least one Soldier in each platoon deployed to Afghanistan with the capabilities of speaking the basics of Dari, which in turn means units will be able to articulate and understand conversations involving initial contact discussions, introductions and greetings, questions and answers to go along with other forms of simple dialogue.

    These perishable skills have more than just a purpose of interacting with the local Afghan people, but the Afghan military as well.

    "Dari is also the professional language of Afghanistan and the Soldiers in the Afghan military all speak Dari," said Mixon. "So for the Soldiers partnering with Afghan soldiers, Dari would be the language predominately used. For Soldiers who go to the tea shop or into the bazaar, they'll hear Pashto, but most Afghans understand Dari."

    The region in which the Strike Brigade will be operating in has a major Pashto speaking populace and the brigade recently proved the value of knowing the local's language while at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La.

    "Prior to JRTC, 100 Strike Soldiers went to Pashto language training and 28 Soldiers participated in a longer language training program and at the end of JRTC when the role players stood up they said to an extent they haven't seen before, American Soldiers were speaking their language," said Mixon. "When we try to speak their language, we get more in return. It's a win-win all the way around."

    When Soldiers are able to converse directly to the people, it eliminates confusion, misunderstandings, saves time during operations and allows the locals to know the American Soldiers on a more personal level.

    "Rather than using the translators and interpreters, if a Soldier talks to me rather than the interpreter, I am getting friendlier with the Soldier and are getting more interested in the Soldiers," said Sharifullah Hedayat, a Dari/Pashto instructor with the Defense Language Institute. "If [Soldiers] speak Dari and Pashto, it will help with the US government in accomplishing the mission in Afghanistan."

    Twelve instructors in total, all originally from Afghanistan, are now employees of the Defense Language Institute, which is a Department of Defense educational and research institution that provides linguistic and cultural instruction to DoD, federal agencies and a number of other creditable groups.

    The DLI is responsible for the Defense Language Program, and the majority of all DLI activity involves educating DoD members in assigned languages.

    Hedayat, a native of Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul, is pleased with the course given to the Soldiers and is impressed with the results.

    "They are learning and if I am to compare yesterday to today, it is awesome," said Hedayat. "They can pronounce and read [the Afghan languages] and when they deploy to Afghanistan, we want them to talk to the people."

    Benefits follow when the Soldiers talk to the people and will construct healthier and stronger bonds by speaking with a common tongue.

    "This will better us in the long-run; we'll be ready to build relations by speaking their language," said Sgt. Nicholas Adams, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. "We're learning — learning how to speak with the people."

    Adams, one of the current 300 Strike Soldiers enrolled in the language training course, compared his newly learned language to that of which he already knows.

    "There is a lot of knowledge that is being taught well," said Adams. "The alphabet has 34 characters instead of our 26, so it was like learning how to read and write all in one day and then learning cursive by putting it all together into words."

    The course Adams and the other Strike Soldiers is taking has him enhancing his cultural depths eight hours a day for 15 days and is the equivalent of two college semesters worth of language training. The magnitude of this kind of education has on no account, been performed before within these gates of Fort Campbell.

    "This is the first time this has been done to such a large extent here on post and we should see large benefits from it downrange," said Mixon. "This language training is going to open up doors for our Soldiers that would remain closed for other Soldiers."

    By opening those Afghan doors, the Strike Brigade is going to know more about where the enemy operates and how to better solve Afghan problems, thus creating a brighter path when completing missions.

    "It's going to help us accomplish our mission more quickly and to a better degree," said Mixon. "You can't get enough language training."

    Leading up to their deployment, 428 resilient Strike Soldiers in total are learning the languages spoken by the Afghan people. The results will benefit far beyond just the individuals retraining their mouths to pronounce the foreign sounds of Dari and Pashto, an entire brigade along with an entire Afghan populace will feel the effects of Strike's hard work.

    "Overall, I think it's going to increase relations with the people [of Afghanistan]," said Adams. "Once we show them that we know their language, even a little bit and that we've taken the time to learn it, I think they'll be more open to us across the board."


    Date Taken: 04.14.2010
    Date Posted: 04.14.2010 01:05
    Story ID: 48110
    Location: FORT CAMPBELL, US

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