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Cultural and Linguistic Skills Acquisition for Special Forces: Necessity, Acceleration, and Potential Alternatives

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Imagine yourself as a Special Forces group commander, and your group s regional alignment has just been changed. While not entirely useless, the cultural knowledge and foreign language acumen your personnel have acquired and retained have now become much less relevant. The invaluable personal bonds and friendships made during multiple deployments to familiar areas of operation are gone with a stroke of a pen. If the change in alignment were to be gradual, with a little time to learn new languages and cultures, you might be able to plan a phased training and education program, but this is not the case the change is effective almost immediately. If the change had occurred during peacetime and your main concerns were conducting exercises, joint combined exchange training JCETs, or military training team MTT events, you could probably find enough people qualified in the linguistic and cultural basics to get by. However, this change occurs in the midst of two conflicts, and your group will be engaging in combat. So, what do you do now, Colonel Perhaps the scenario is a little dramatic, but the question what do you do now is nonetheless relevant as Special Forces group commanders from the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th Special Forces groups have undergone fairly rapid regional realignments and had to deal with similarly difficult questions. Driving these changes was a 2009 United States Special Operations Command USSOCOM directive realigning the traditional regional orientation of most Special Forces groups. Most affected were the 3rd Group, which changed its regional focus from Africa to the eastern and northern parts of the Central Command region including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and the 10th Group, which assumed responsibility for Africa from the 3rd Group, while retaining responsibility for Europe.

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  • Sociology and Law
  • Linguistics
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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