LEAP preparing Airmen for the future

Lt Col Beloved started his linguistic journey by taking Arabic courses online

Lt Col Beloved started his linguistic journey by taking Arabic courses online

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Sixteen years have passed since Lieutenant Colonel Dear Beloved joined the Air Force. At the time when he entered, there were mounting tensions between Iraq and the U.S. and a shortage of Arabic speakers in the military. Lt Col Beloved did not speak a second language, but, he knew he needed to learn.

“As a young second lieutenant, I made up my mind to learn a language and I chose Arabic—as a critical need for our nation. The Air Force immediately offered opportunities to achieve this goal,” he said.

Lt Col Beloved started his linguistic journey by taking Arabic courses online. From there, he discovered the Air Force Culture and Language Center. AFCLC offers cultural, regional, and linguistic training to men and women in the Air Force. Lt Col Beloved was accepted into AFCLC’s Language Enabled Airman Program and as a LEAP participant, he took additional Arabic language and culture classes. Eventually, he traveled to Tunisia for a Language Intensive Training Event (LITE). 

“Language and culture are the living breathing identity that must be continually renewed and maintained,” he said. “In Tunisia, I learned how to bond with the local Tunisians over mint tea with pine nuts on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, as the sun dipped below the horizon. In Oman, I lived with a host nation family for three months and experienced the desert oasis amid massive sand dunes.”

Lt Col Beloved said that his immersion allowed him to experience different cultures firsthand; experiences that trickled over to his daily duties in the Air Force. In his official capacity, he used his language and cultural training to work with Iraqi officials. 

“In Iraq, I dodged daily rockets and mortars alongside my Iraqi Air Force counterparts, all while building their intelligence capability from scratch and soaking in the Iraqi dialect. In the United Arab Emirates, I negotiated a peaceful resolution to a conflict between the SECAF Security team and the Dubai police during the Dubai Air Show. These are just a few examples in which my language and cultural experience has served as a force multiplier for the Air Force,” he said. 

Lt Col Beloved encourages other men and women in the Air Force to look into learning another language. He now speaks Arabic, German, and Korean and has been a certified USAF Foreign Area Officer (FAO) for four years.

“AFCLC allowed me to develop and sustain language capability, regional expertise, and cultural knowledge. I continue to sustain and improve my language in service of the nation,” he said.