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Improving Cultural Education of Special Operations Forces

The Department of Defense has recognized the challenges posed by future conflicts and directed the services to increase their capabilities to meet these challenges. The United States Army’s 2008 Army Training and Leader Development Strategy, states that “over the next decade or longer there will be a period of persistent conflict, during which the Army will operate with allied, coalition, and other government and non-government partners across the full spectrum of operations against networked, adaptive, asymmetric adversaries, in order to gain the support of indigenous populations and to positively influence them.” SOF requirements to effectively work with partner nation security forces, indigenous peoples and other organizations to accomplish assigned missions will be greater than ever before. Current SOF language and cultural education programs need to be improved to meet the challenges of the 21st century. An improved SOF language training and education program should consist of improved initial language and culture training, advanced regional studies and in-country immersion.