16 September 2010

Marines Get Cultured - no, really!

The USMC is making cultural awareness training mandatory.

Fighting in any clime or place means Marines often come into close contact with people of all nationalities and cultures. An intimate understanding of those cultures can make the difference between mission success and mission failure. That’s why the Marine Corps is now rolling out mandatory cultural training that will assign most Marine a specific region of specialization that they will study for the duration of their career.

The program, which will include reservists, will begin in late August with first and second lieutenants, but eventually be expanded to all enlisted Marines ranked sergeant and above, and all officers up to colonel.

The Regional, Culture, and Language Familiarization Program was created by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational and Cultural Learning at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Eventually, officers and enlisted Marines will be assigned to one of 17 global regions of study, which they will focus on for the duration of their careers, according to Marine Administrative Message 468/10.

“When you get turned to the south or diverted to the west, you need to have people that are organic to your staff that understand the region,” said retired Col. George Dallas, the center’s director.

For example: the recent humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti in response to January’s earthquake. Marines who spoke Creole or French and understood Haiti’s culture were indispensable during those relief efforts, Dallas said.

The hope is to have at least one or two Marines in every unit who have a solid understanding of any region to which Marines could be called.

The areas of study, according to the article:

The 17 global regions Marines will be assigned to study under a new cultural education program, with examples of what each region includes:
• Central Africa: Republic of the Congo, Angola, Cameroon.
• Eastern Africa: Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia.
• North Africa: Egypt, Libya, Morocco.
• Sahel: A narrow band stretching across Africa, where the tropics meet the deserts.
• Southern Africa: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.
• West Africa: Senegal, Nigeria, Liberia.
• West South Africa: Namibia.
• Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
• Northeast Asia: Japan, South Korea, North Korea.
• South Asia: Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh.
• Southeast Asia: Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia.
• Arabian Gulf: Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates.
• Levant: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Israel.
• Balkans: Albania, Boznia and Herzegovina, Serbia.
• Mexico, Caribbean, Central America.
• South America: Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela.
• Transcaucuses: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan.

By: Brant

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