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Thread: Delivering Cultural Competence

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando Spirit View Post
    ...Well, Cultural Competence is the way of things now and of those to come in post-modern conflict. Time being the good old ubiquitous constraint within the military where and when does this training take place? Should it be delivered as on the job training (OJT)? Or should there be bespoke courses provided for those that require it? At what stages throughout a military career should this training be delivered?
    RAND published a study along these general lines for the Air Force back in May:

    Cross-Cultural Skills for Deployed Air Force Personnel: Defining Cross-Cultural Performance
    Because of its strong interest in providing airmen with the cross-cultural skills that have grown ever more essential to successful mission accomplishment in foreign environments, the Air Force asked RAND to provide a foundation for the design of a comprehensive Air Force program of cross-cultural training and education. RAND researchers responded by first creating a taxonomy covering all behaviors relevant to cross-cultural performance after the need for such a taxonomy became evident from a review of the literature on cross-cultural performance and discussions with Air Force personnel. From this taxonomy, the researchers developed a framework of 14 categories of cross-cultural behaviors — nine categories of enabling behaviors and five of goal-oriented behaviors. This framework was then used in designing a survey for 21,000 recently deployed airmen that asked them to rate the importance of the behaviors to their deployed performance and the helpfulness of training they had received in the behaviors (both over their careers and just prior to deployment). Respondents were also asked to indicate how much training they had received. Recommendations and suggestions for the design of a comprehensive program of cross-cultural training and education and for further research steps were made based on extensive analyses of the results, which included determining whether training needs differed by AFSC, grade (enlisted/officer), and deployment location.
    And there's also this thesis paper from CGSC, published last year:

    Cultural Competency Training in the USMC: a Prescription for Success in the Long War
    ....The Marine Corps has made great strides towards the goal of developing culturally competent Marines to participate in the Long War. The establishment of the Center for Advanced Operational Cultural Learning represents the Marine Corps’ single greatest achievement thus far in its quest to produce culturally competent Marines. As the leading advocate for cultural competency training, the center has developed and implemented a robust pre-deployment training regimen for units going to Iraq and Afghanistan. The center’s work with the Marine Corps Training Command has clearly resulted in a higher level of cultural competency in the operating forces participating in OIF and OEF. Furthermore, the establishment of the center is critical in order for the Marine Corps to institutionalize the key relationship between cultural competency and military operations.....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-15-2009 at 12:45 PM.

  2. #22
    Council Member Commando Spirit's Avatar
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    Why did I not post on here sooner??? This has been, and continues to be, hugely useful for both my MSc thesis scoping study and also for my career at a time when I have been tasked to provide both language and cultural 'training/education' to some 14K military personnel.

    Please keep posting as and when you see fit and very many thanks to those that have already done so.

    CS
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  3. #23
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    CS,

    You asked to be nicholized....soooo here ya go....but first a disclaimer.

    I'm a retired Infantry Gunny with a little over 15 years overseas time. I am currently a gopher for my Governement boss who is the APM for Culture & Language Training Systems........basically I manage contracts. No high speed stuff in my kit, just a simple grunt view of life.

    I'm going to provide you with some links that may help you understand where we are right now.......we basically arrived here without knowing our starting point, azimuth, and distance

    There are a few of approaches that are being used/looked at in the Marine Corps:

    Regional, Culture, and Language Familiarization Program (RCLF) which is PME. This evolved out of the Marine Career Regional Studies Program (MCRS)

    An article about MCRS from September 2008

    The idea behind this was that no matter where a MAGTF was tasked to go, there would be a few Marines in the unit that had been studying the area. The Sergeant's knowledge would not be at the level of the Major but it would be enough to cover basic culture/language for the AO on the small unit level. Through many meetings MCRS became RCLF; the meetings have been painful. Identifying the language requirement per rank has been the hardest part because some people just can't learn a second language and linking it to PME means linking it to promotion. Linking a language to a region has also been tough. RCLF has not been signed yet, I think that once it has been signed we will have a better azimuth to shoot specifically for requirements. The junior ranks (E-1-E-4) will be getting general culture awareness courses not specific to an AO;

    Rudy with the rusty rifle in the third rank that never gets the word, be advised, culture is out there and you need to be aware that scratching your rearend in public will get laughs here...outside of here, people will be offended.

    Predeployment Training Program (PTP). Most people a familiar with this concept and it is the easiest to get requirements for but it requires white space on the training schedule that is hard to get. We have been using multiple methods to conduct language/culture training that usually gets tested during a Mojave Viper type training event at 29 Palms before the unit deploys. I specifically manage computer based language/culture software training devices that have been used for PTP.

    The third approach is the Security Cooperation MAGTF.

    A pretty good article can be found here.

    The idea behind this is that Rudy joins a Regiment that has a specific AO that he can focus on. While many are saying that this is a new idea, it basically follows along the lines of the UDP cycle of the early to mid 80's (From Camp Lejuene, 2nd Mar had NATO Northern flank, 6th Mar had Okinawa, 8th Mar had Med Floats). A diffence the 80's and now is that once the unit gets to its AO, small units would be task organized to saturate the AO;

    Battalion sets up CP in Rota....fireteams, squads, platoons get sent to various countries in Sub Saharan Africa.

    A big difference is that Rudy spends most of his career with the Regiment (sound familiar?).

    The intent is that while Rudy is in the third rank he meets Francois from the third rank in the other country's military and establishes a friendship. A few years later Sgt Rudy goes back and links up with Capt Francois and maintains the friendship. Eventually Rudy may become a SNCO....Francois may become the President.....a long term lasting Lawrence type relationship is the goal.

  4. #24
    Council Member Commando Spirit's Avatar
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    Nichols, that's great stuff and is probably a winning solution for a military with spare capacity and the numbers that the US enjoys. The articles are very useful and if nothing else the ability to compare the way in which a much larger Armed Force is able to target its resources will be an interesting debate in my thesis. Unfortunately, the British Army is only a little over 100K strong (and likely to get smaller in the 2010 Strategic Defence Review) and so there is no spare capacity to enable our personnel to target their learning in this way.

    That said, perhaps it is actually that the organisational culture of the British Military hierarchy is not sufficiently mature to approach the issue in tis way?

    As an aside I completed an exchange exercise with CGSC a few years ago and the Rudy/Francois model does have some potential. The falling down point is that us men (and I mean men in particular) are rubbish at staying in touch with friends - so my wife says anyway!!

    Many thanks for the links to the articles.
    Commando Spirit:
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  5. #25
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando Spirit View Post
    Unfortunately, the British Army is only a little over 100K strong (and likely to get smaller in the 2010 Strategic Defence Review) and so there is no spare capacity to enable our personnel to target their learning in this way.
    This is where the UK acquisition bubbas need to get together when they are developing new training devices. Your total active duty manpower for October was just under 180k. I've seen contractors deliver training systems to individual units and being paid by those units for use only in those units. Specific to the Corps' language and culture stuff, we contract .mil wide licenses but pay USMC only license costs. UK MOD hould probably look aty contracting for the total force which in the long run will bring the price down.

    We are beginning to get the Operational Language & Culture Training System (OLCTS). This consists of an initial language/culture acquisition via desktop of server, a sustainment piece for the iTouch, and a mission rehearsal piece for the first person shooter game. I was briefing/demonstrating these capabilities to members of the UK Army 2 weeks ago at I/ITSEC. It could have been just a drive by from the Brits but they were saying that they intended on getting this capability to thier units.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by nichols; 12-16-2009 at 08:39 PM. Reason: added a poster of OLCTS

  6. #26
    Council Member Commando Spirit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nichols View Post
    This is where the UK acquisition bubbas need to get together when they are developing new training devices. Your total active duty manpower for October was just under 180k. I've seen contractors deliver training systems to individual units and being paid by those units for use only in those units. Specific to the Corps' language and culture stuff, we contract .mil wide licenses but pay USMC only license costs. UK MOD hould probably look aty contracting for the total force which in the long run will bring the price down.

    We are beginning to get the Operational Language & Culture Training System (OLCTS). This consists of an initial language/culture acquisition via desktop of server, a sustainment piece for the iTouch, and a mission rehearsal piece for the first person shooter game. I was briefing/demonstrating these capabilities to members of the UK Army 2 weeks ago at I/ITSEC. It could have been just a drive by from the Brits but they were saying that they intended on getting this capability to thier units.
    I've seen, and used, the iTouch software a couple of weeks ago and it looks very good (I think those you spoke to were from my own branch!!) I'm under the impression that UK is asking for non-US phonetics to be looked into?

    Not sure where you got the 180K from though - I suspect that is British Military rather than British Army? Army hasn't been that big since the cold war!!
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  7. #27
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando Spirit View Post
    I've seen, and used, the iTouch software a couple of weeks ago and it looks very good (I think those you spoke to were from my own branch!!) I'm under the impression that UK is asking for non-US phonetics to be looked into?

    Not sure where you got the 180K from though - I suspect that is British Military rather than British Army? Army hasn't been that big since the cold war!!
    Yes to the phonetics, the UK is thinking about doing this specifically for Pashtu & Dari. Australian MOD is looking at the same type of modifications.

    180k was total active forces from last month....MOD site

  8. #28
    Council Member jenniferro10's Avatar
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    Default another thought, in terms of effective cultural training delivery

    The instructor makes a huge difference.

    As it is currently practiced, doctrine prevents the Sgt. without a degree- but with years of experience training polic officers in Iraq or Afghanistan, from leading or designing the sort of training that is actually relevant to our military's needs. However, the PhD with no recent field experience in the region is qualified. In fact, I am aware of an instructor meeting that description in the system right now that has spent a career studying Ireland, has no military experience, and is teaching an Islam-specific knowledge course.

    The USMC CAOCL says (and I agree): "Instead of generalist historians, religion specialists, and journalists, younger personnel who combined recent operational experience with academic study, site visits, and debriefing of returning units conducted the training. In this respect, cultural trainers have been working to shorten the lessonslearned feedback loop from deployment to
    deployment…he or she must be a Soldier or Marine who has recently deployed operationally to the AO in a job requiring ongoing interaction with the indigenous population--the division combat operations center watch officer from OIF-I will not do. MOS is not important here; interaction with Iraqis on a regular basis is." (“Advances in Predeployment Culture Training: The U.S. Marine Corps Approach”, Barak Salmoni and Paula Holmes-Eber)
    Maimonides: "Consider this, those of you who are engaged in investigation, if you choose to seek truth. Cast aside passion, accepted thought, and the inclination toward what you used to esteem, and you shall not be lead into error."

  9. #29
    Council Member jenniferro10's Avatar
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    Default There is a lot of ignored common ground here. Why is that?

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    a.) What do we mean "culture?" - it's a woolly imprecise term of no actual use to soldiers, in the context it is being used.
    b.) The primary requirement is to teach soldiers how not to cause offence or make situations worse by being rude or disrespectful...
    ...IMO, ditch the "cultural competence/understanding" stuff and instead boil it down to:
    • Language training (3 levels)
    • RELEVANT Local beliefs, customs and courtesies.

    Keep it simple and effective.
    All points addressed in my original post, with no exceptions.
    Maimonides: "Consider this, those of you who are engaged in investigation, if you choose to seek truth. Cast aside passion, accepted thought, and the inclination toward what you used to esteem, and you shall not be lead into error."

  10. #30
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferro10 View Post
    The instructor makes a huge difference.

    As it is currently practiced, doctrine prevents the Sgt. without a degree- but with years of experience training polic officers in Iraq or Afghanistan, from leading or designing the sort of training that is actually relevant to our military's needs.
    I don't fully agree with your statement but the outcome is the same. We really don't have a doctrine for culture & language. We have some attempts at Training & Readiness manuals but nothing that we can turn to and say 'This is what we train to.'

    There are lot of junior Marines and NCOs leading and designing training that hits the target culture, from my experience, this has been going on since at least 1981. The major issue is that there is no doctrine so the training being done on the small unit level stays at the small unit level.

    When the culture specialist are highered to conduct training, the KSAs play into the highering process. Ultimately, because there isn't a clear defined doctrine the instructor usually is highered on a subjective basis.

  11. #31
    Council Member Commando Spirit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nichols View Post
    The major issue is that there is no doctrine so the training being done on the small unit level stays at the small unit level.

    When the culture specialist are highered to conduct training, the KSAs play into the highering process. Ultimately, because there isn't a clear defined doctrine the instructor usually is highered on a subjective basis.
    I'm with Jennifer on this one; this is how doctrine should be produced. We identify a capability gap, develop local training solutions (as in your small unit trg) then capture that trg and the lessons learnt; which in tern identifies best practice, and this is subsequently written down as draft doctrine. Following the usual rigmarole of 2* and 1* approval it is then published.

    All that noted, the cultural and language arena is a flexible one and so probably not best served by the doctrine slaves out there. How many of us read COIN manuals/papers and agree with them only to go back after another 5 yrs or so to find that we have done a complete U turn?

    The Trg solution here, to my simple mind, needs to be one that is generic enough to be fit for purpose in any theatre but can also have modules of focussed trg interventions that are theatre specific - Afghanistan for example.
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  12. #32
    Council Member Commando Spirit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferro10 View Post
    The instructor makes a huge difference.
    Agreed; the instructor is fundamental in all of this. These whizzo online or computerised trg solutions are fine for most but in my experience military personnel prefer to be talked to and be able to ask questions, that can't be done to an iTouch. The technical kit is a great back up, or reminder once deployed, but it does not and cannot replace a face-to-face frank discussion.

    I anticipate that someone will jump on that with simulation examples; yes they do work for dvr trg and some scenarios, but as those who have done considerable work with 'indigenous populations' will know that there isn't a driver manual for it and so we have the adage of 'train for certainty; educate for uncertainty.' In the Contemporary Operating Environment it is great, and entirely appropriate, that service personnel 'know' what to do when things get noisy, or how to call in CAS but it is the thinking person that we need, who can do the 'so what' and understands the wider implications of that same air strike.
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  13. #33
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando Spirit View Post
    We identify a capability gap, develop local training solutions (as in your small unit trg) then capture that trg and the lessons learnt; which in tern identifies best practice, and this is subsequently written down as draft doctrine. Following the usual rigmarole of 2* and 1* approval it is then published.
    Something that is missing is that once a capability gap has been identified, a requirement has to be identified and written. Going from gap to training solution will keep us in the current loop of just in time training that doesn't answer the requirement that was never identified in the first place.

    'Things' can be built to a requirement, operational & maintenance funds can be sourced to a requirement that will last longer than a just in time solution.

  14. #34
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commando Spirit View Post
    I anticipate that someone will jump on that with simulation examples;
    Simulations only work if they are facilitated. No facilitation produces a game that wastes training time.

    Simulations in context of culture & language also need to be facilitated. The problem is that the SMEs are not there to facilitate on a daily basis. Simulations can be looked at as the initial ball of clay being formed, it becomes a work of art once the fine details have been chisled in by the facilitator.

  15. #35
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    Default to nichols, a few last thoughts

    I don't fully agree with your statement but the outcome is the same. We really don't have a doctrine for culture & language...
    not so sure we disagree...

    There are lot of junior Marines and NCOs leading and designing training that hits the target culture...The major issue is that there is no doctrine so the training being done on the small unit level stays at the small unit level.
    I know, right? I read the materials for several of these classes while researching for something else. A lot of the materials are incredible. Too bad their makers and the contect just wanders away, and the wheel is regularly reinvented.

    When the culture specialist are hired to conduct training, the KSAs play into the hiring process. Ultimately, because there isn't a clear defined doctrine the instructor usually is hired on a subjective basis.
    What I have heard (a *lot*) is that the opposite happens- the instructor is hired according the a strict interpretation of the rules. If they have to hire the person with the most time in the field, you get the guy 15 yr old PhD research experience because he has 5 years in the field, and not the guy with two recent tours, because he has less than 5 years. You get someone with a Masters in anthro, with work in behavioral modeling but no military experience, *not* the guy with an undergrad in criminology who worked in intelligence in Iraq.

    The key to the most effective training is shortening the feedback loop that gets lessons learned from the field into the training system. While I take exception to the statement that there is not clear doctrine on the instructor hiring process, "As it is currently practiced", training (both program standards, program eval, and trainer standards), knowledge management (KM), and COIN doctrine do not support the most effective cultural training.
    -COIN doctrine provides the directive that we should have it, and leaves it at that.
    -KM relegates cultural lessons learned to the types of KM tools from which we could never reliably get information out
    -Program eval standards allow contractors to evaluate test performance at the end of a course, then say, "We're awesome!" There is no follow up on how that culture or language training was applied (or not applied) in the field.
    -Trainer standards block the most qualified, in terms of recent field experience, from being trainers unless they meet byzantine guidelines
    -(and this is what we really agree on, nichols) The culture training program standards are being made up as we go along, often by the contractors that are designing the programs (talk about foxes, henhouses, etc.)

    But be careful what you ask for...flexibility is also required for effective cultural training, and doctrine doesn't provide that yet. Maybe it's better to be ignored so you can do what you want...

    Sidenote: The Peace Corps has done this effectively for more than 40 years. They offer immediately relevant language and culture training to the same age group as most junior enlisted and younger NCOs, that they can implement at a highly functional level within 8 weeks. I've been through it. Institute for Defense Analyses and the Strategic Studies Institute have noticed it (report is here...their methods are not secret. Modifications for a military application are already being discussed, but no one would make nearly as much money off of this type of training...

    One more thing (I swear): If ya'll think it would be hard to a build cultural interaction simulation that's effective, you should tell the companies that are building them like gangbusters, and to the People looking at buying them at I/ITSEC a few weeks ago.
    Maimonides: "Consider this, those of you who are engaged in investigation, if you choose to seek truth. Cast aside passion, accepted thought, and the inclination toward what you used to esteem, and you shall not be lead into error."

  16. #36
    Council Member Beelzebubalicious's Avatar
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    I went through the Peace Corps training 15 years ago. Language and culture training work b/c it's immersion - both classroom and homestay. Cultural training was minimal and not great at the time but we got plenty of first hand experience. Would have been better to have more tools and frameworks for understanding what we were seeing and experiencing.

  17. #37
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferro10 View Post
    Sidenote: The Peace Corps has done this effectively for more than 40 years. They offer immediately relevant language and culture training to the same age group as most junior enlisted and younger NCOs, that they can implement at a highly functional level within 8 weeks. I've been through it. Institute for Defense Analyses and the Strategic Studies Institute have noticed it (report is here...their methods are not secret. Modifications for a military application are already being discussed, but no one would make nearly as much money off of this type of training...
    The danger with these types of studies is that they are based off of subjective assessments.

    Jennifer, I think we are talking about two different animals here. If you are talking about knowledge learned while in country, yes the Peace Corps has been doing this effectively for 40 years. On the same note there are embedded teams that are producing the same results. If you are talking about pre-deployment training, the Peace Corps does allot more time and depending on the FSI language level, the volunteers could show up with a working knowledge of the language but they were no where near culturally proficient until 3-6 months of living in thier village. My detachment provided basic self defense classes to all new arrivals and we tracked thier progress throughout thier tour. another example of WAWA at it's finest The volunteers that worked with Sub-Saharan French were more prepared than the ones working with Songo.

    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferro10 View Post
    One more thing (I swear): If ya'll think it would be hard to a build cultural interaction simulation that's effective, you should tell the companies that are building them like gangbusters, and to the People looking at buying them at I/ITSEC a few weeks ago.
    I know it is hard but not impossible.......Between DARPA, SOCOM, and the USMC we have spent 7 years and a lot of funding to build culture interaction simulations. Numerous 'subjective' reports from returning warfighters have given favorable comments about how effective these products are. We have not drank the kool-aid fully, at the same time we can't do one on one or for that matter one on fifty instructor to student. The simulations compliment, they will never replace.

  18. #38
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferro10 View Post
    But be careful what you ask for...flexibility is also required for effective cultural training, and doctrine doesn't provide that yet. Maybe it's better to be ignored so you can do what you want...
    Flexibility is required but to get funding you need a program of record with no kidding requirements.

    BTW, USMC doctrine is all about flexibility via decision making....unfortunately the funding people don't read Wrfighting

  19. #39
    Council Member BayonetBrant's Avatar
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    somehow you just knew this thread would be a Nichols-magnet
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    Council Member Commando Spirit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayonetBrant View Post
    somehow you just knew this thread would be a Nichols-magnet
    It does seem to be a bit of a hard sell...
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