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Cultural Immersions

The Department of Defense provides immersive programs to ensure military forces and civilian employees are ready to work within and alongside other cultures.  

“Iso-immersion” is an abbreviated, government-wide, term used to describe foreign language training conducted in total isolation from the English language and/or native culture.  This is a life-like role playing scenario, sometimes lasting several days which may include costumes, buildings and rooms made to look like a foreign environment, foreign language speakers and problems to solve during the immersion experience.  These can be terrific tools to uncover various blind spots in cultural awareness as we prepare for missions overseas, and they also offer a memorable crucible for language training programs.  Here are three examples of iso-immersion programs currently being used:

Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) Field Training Exercises (FTX)

An FTX event, as conducted at the DLIFLC, is a one to three-day language training event, conducted outside the classroom, exclusively in the target language, which simulates real life situations and offers students multiple opportunities to apply their language skills while also experiencing target culture. FTX events are conducted at DLIFLC’s Immersion Center on Ft. Ord, California.  FTXs are intended to enhance the students’ learning experience by providing them with the opportunities to use the language in a closer to real life situations than they are likely to do in the regular classroom. In a course of an FTX, the students engage in simulations such as hiring interpreters to help American troops in the field, resolving a traffic accident, choosing a location for a study abroad, or developing fund raising strategies for non-profit organizations in a target country, to name only a few. The decision making and consensus building needed for the successful completion of such tasks require students to interact and negotiate meaning, thus processing target language on a deeper level.  FTXs are an integral part of the Basic Program curriculum in Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Persian/Farsi, Russian and Spanish. At full implementation, each graduating class goes through three FTXs during the course of their study: a 1-day, a 2-day and a 3-day event in Semester I, II and III respectively. Over 2,000 students go through the FTX training each year.

Oak Grove Training Center

This 160-acre training center, located adjacent to Camp Mackall, NC, includes a cultural training site and a tactical training site. The cultural training site (CTS) replicates regional world settings in authentic detail and supports fully immersive culture-specific scenarios.  The OGTC currently supports the following Special Operations Forces training programs:

  • Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). Execute field training support for Special Forces Assessment and Selection, Small Unit Tactics, MOS related field training exercises, and the Culmination Exercise Robin Sage. Special Forces Observer/Controllers, cultural role players, opposing forces, cultural enhancement trainers, and scenario writers are employed to support approximately 58 Special Forces field training exercises annually.

  • Civil Affairs Qualification Course (CAQC). Perform field training support for the CAQC Culmination Exercise Sluss-Tiller and Coalition Support Team Training.

  • Military Information Support Operations Qualification Course (MISOQC). Conduct field training support for the MISOQC Culminating Exercise Black Knight, Interagency Planning Exercises (IAPX), and exercises specifically designed to promote adaptable thinking and learning.

  • Training Management Office (TMO) / Exercise Support Cell (ESC) operations. Provide TMO and ESC support for training conducted at the 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne). The TMO provides synchronization of field training exercise support resources for five of the Training Group’s seven battalions. The ESC provides logistical, communications, and live range support operations at Camp Mackall and Range 37.

The Muscatatuck Urban Training Center

The 1,000 acre site was turned over to the Indiana National Guard in July of 2005 and since has been continually evolving into a full-immersion contemporary urban training environment. Those utilizing MUTC have access to a 180 acre reservoir and urban infrastructure consisting of 68 major buildings including a school, hospital, dormitories, light industrial structures, single family type dwellings, a dining facility and administrative buildings totaling approximately 850,000 square feet of floor space. Additionally the training area includes an extensive underground utility tunnel system and over 9 miles of roads and streets.  MUTC is a consortium of governmental, public and private entities that are pooling their unique capabilities in order to provide the most realistic training experience possible. Training that can be tailored to replicate both foreign and domestic scenarios and that can be utilized by various civilian and military organizations. In its first year of operation the facilities at MUTC have been utilized by over 16,000 people from military, government and private agencies and is continually expanding training capabilities for future needs.

Do you know of other great culture training programs?  Let us know!

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