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LEAP: Improving my language skills at ISOS

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  • By Capt Paulina Ali, Baltimore MEPS Operations Officer

The purpose of the Inter-American Squadron Officer School (ISOS) is to cultivate those leadership qualities expected in superior ranks. The course mirrors Squadron Officer School (SOS) at Maxwell Air Force Base, but taught entirely in Spanish alongside officers from our Latin American partners. 

ISOS’s two month university-level Spanish instruction allowed my vocabulary, military terms, and writing skills to improve. Within two-weeks, I noticed considerable improvement in the time required to articulate my thoughts verbally and written. The full-scope immersion simply made things easier.  In the last two weeks of the course, my primary mode of thinking was in Spanish. At times I had to remind myself to switch to English when speaking to non-Spanish speakers.

Similar to other Professional Military Education programs, national strategy was extensively discussed. Emphasis was placed on the Department of Defense’s (DOD) line of effort to strengthen alliances and attract new partners. ISOS demonstrated The DOD’s commitment to this strategy by providing an opportunity to listen to Foreign Area Officers and how they contribute to this effort.

United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) priorities include the strengthening of relationships with partner nations as well as their capabilities. “Plan Colombia” provides an example of USSOUTHCOM’s commitment to strengthening these relationships and how our countries are linked.  There were numerous Colombian military and law enforcement members in attendance at ISOS. This created an abundance of opportunity to build individual relationships with future leaders of the Colombian forces, which will contribute to long lasting regional security. 

The class itself was composed of a diverse group of military officers from Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. I wanted to seize this opportunity to not only learn from other dialects and cultures, but also about our partner’s military structures, leadership style, and organizational culture. Each officer provided a valuable perspective to the discussions.

At the outset of ISOS I set certain goals for myself. I wanted of grow as a leader and improve all facets of my Spanish skills. In the culminating weeks of the course, I feel I have achieved those goals. 

For anyone interested, I simply cannot stress the excellent opportunity to meet the language, regional expertise, and culture (LREC) goals and fully immerse yourself in the language.

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