By Scott Prater
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Officers and senior enlisted members with 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, struggled through a heated discussion with partner-nation-force leaders inside a training complex at Fort Carson Dec. 13, 2018. With assistance from of an Army interpreter, the 3rd ABCT Soldiers attempted to resolve a simple dispute that threatened to undermine an ongoing joint operation, but they were having difficulty getting their point across.
Likewise, the partner-nation-force leaders carried their own gripes and concerns.
After more than 20 minutes of haggling, however, the sides eventually settled on a resolution and agreed to take positive steps to improve cooperation between their forces.
The scenario, controlled and administered by certified Army trainers, showed exactly how language and cultural barriers can hamper productive communication between partner forces. And, it was just one of many scenarios the trainers presented to the 3rd ABCT Soldiers during a weeklong course known as the Leaders Regional Advise and Assist Course (LRAAC).
Inspired by Army guidance and directives, the 3rd Battalion, 353rd Regiment Security Cooperation/Security Force Assistance Operations Group, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, visited Fort Carson the week of Dec. 10-14 to train 3rd ABCT Soldiers.
“Our unique mission set is to train, observe, teach, coach and mentor personnel who have been identified to serve as advisers in different (global)
regions,” said Capt. Miguel Moyeno, commander, Alpha Company, 3rd Bn., 353rd Reg. “This not only includes the areas in the U.S. Central Command region, but anywhere (U.S. Soldiers) are performing as advisers, such as in Europe and Africa.”
The LRAAC training provided students with six academic classes explaining the basis of adviser skills — Use of an Interpreter, Cross Cultural Communication, Human Behavior Rapport, Influence and Negotiation, Guardian-Angel Insider Threat and Personal Recovery.
“We leverage Army interpreters, our Observer, Controller, Trainers (OCT) and native-language speaking role-players to develop tailored training programs that meet specific unit training objectives,” Moyeno said. “Our interpreters are 09 Lima professionals and our role-players are U.S. citizens who are also native to the specific region our Army units will soon be advising in.”
Course administrators typically begin the LRAAC training with classroom instruction, but quickly challenge students to apply their knowledge through realistic scenarios involving the interpreters and role-players.
“Each scenario we conduct builds on previous scenarios,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lantz, OCT, 3rd Bn. 353rd Reg. “So, students should be able to use the skills they learned in previous scenarios to better manage interaction in more advanced situations.”
Sgt. 1st Class Chris Schmidt, armor platoon sergeant, 3rd ABCT, found the training invaluable.
“This (training) was much better than what I expected coming in,” he said. “I figured there would be an attempt at a language class, and we did some of that early on, but most of it has been concentrated on actual engagement with role- players. During the last three days of the course, we kept going over scenarios where our instructors tried to stress us and get us out of our comfort zones, which was good because you’re not going to get good training if it’s easy and comfortable. After each scenario we conducted an after-action review (AAR) — when we learned the things we did wrong and how we can improve and game plan for our next scenario, kind of like what we would do in an actual adviser mission. But the trainers also provided us with aids and training on how to be more effective in those scenarios — a specific AAR and specific way to plan for our next challenge.”
While the 3rd Bn., 353rd Reg., team recently trained units at Forts Drum, Bliss, Campbell, McCoy, Bragg and Stewart, Moyeno said the team will be back at Fort Carson later this year to train members of the newly created 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade.