Regardless of which Special Operations Forces branch a Soldier is training to join, Psychological Operations, Civil Affairs or Special Forces, they are required to achieve proficiency in one of 14 languages and spend approximately 23 weeks training to meet language requirements.
Some of the Soldiers are assigned languages they have never even heard.
“I was so nervous to start without knowing anything about the culture,” explained a John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School student and future Psychological Operations Soldier.
Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture training, overseen by Special Warfare Education Group (Airborne), SWCS, trains approximately 1,300 Soldiers in language skills each year.
Soldiers are assigned a language and paired with instructors and classmates based on learning style.
“The primary objective is the Soldiers speaking and being able to communicate with the people in the target region, so, the classrooms are very small … six hours every day students work in pairs and small groups, and the teacher is the facilitator, providing constant feedback on their performance,” explained Inna Ruble, director, SWEG(A), Basic Operations Language Training.
SWEG (A) language program is constantly changing.
“(Language choice) constantly shifts based on operational needs. It’s completely driven by what the units need,” explained Maj. James S. Vchulek, LREC Director, SWEG (A), SWCS.
Fort Bragg’s SWCS SWEG (A) Language Program was awarded the United States Special Operations Institutional Language Program of the Year Award, July 25. This is the third consecutive year they have received this honor.
The program has seen an increase in student performance over the last year. Ten percent of students achieved an Interagency Language Roundtable score, the standard grading scale for language proficiency on a federal level, of 1+/1+ and a 17 percent increase of graduating students with an ILR of 2/2 or higher.
Despite the increase in student performance, this year Vchuleck attributes their win to three key future initiative programs: an immersion program, a braided curriculum and a cadre language school.
During the immersion pilot program, student Soldiers attend language classes at foreign universities and spend time on cultural excursions.
“They are staying with Families, eating meals with Families; it is complete immersion,” explained Vchulek.
The plan to create a braided curriculum involves interweaving culture, regional analysis and the basic language course, and the cadre language school will offer SWCS cadre the opportunity to brush up on their language skills.
“What we want is SWCS cadre to come to SWCS and go back out to the operational force better” said Vchulek.
In addition to improving performance and implementing new initiatives, SWEG (A)’s LREC is in the process of building a new school house, which is expected to be completed in the spring.
It will be a facility that reflects the academic nature of the course with better resources. The students will be co-located with all the resource SWCS offers instead of being spread out, said Vchulek.