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Developing Cultural Competence in a New Strategic Hot Spot

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  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

During a visit to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said Alaska is a strategic hot spot for defending the United States.

“We are an Indo-Pacific nation, and we are an Arctic nation,” Secretary Austin said. “And here in Alaska, those two critical regions intersect. This is where we can project power into both regions and where we must be able to defend ourselves from threats coming from both places. It’s also where we can better posture ourselves and prepare for climate changes that will impact our future.”

To fulfill the challenge of developing cultural competence of the Arctic region in strategic competition, the Air Force Culture and Language Center leans on research analyst Mr. Luis Rojas. Rojas is helping the Air Force Culture and Language Center enhance Airmen’s knowledge and cultural competence of the arctic region through his compilations of research focusing on the Arctic Region.

Rojas received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Management from Central Missouri State University. He currently serves as a research analyst supporting AFCLC. Rojas is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with 28 years of military experience in a primary career field of Space and Missile Operations and a secondary career field as a Regional Affairs Strategist for Latin America.

“In my last assignment with the Air Force, I served as Assistant Dean of Education for the International Officer School, as well as Course Director for the Squadron Officer School Preparatory Course and instructor for all three Professional Military Education preparatory courses.  During my time at the International Officer School, I was responsible for integrating, guiding, managing, and supervising curriculum requirements for international officer programs. I directed all aspects of three seven-week Squadron Officer School Preparatory Courses annually for up to 96 International Officers.

“I also led a staff of 13 military and civilian instructors responsible for integrating and preparing international officers for resident Professional Military Education. I coordinated new requirements with SOS faculty to construct the course curriculum. I was also responsible for teaching leadership, force employment, problem-solving, military studies, and communication techniques in seminar and auditorium settings for 221 select officers from 83 countries attending Air University schools annually. Additionally, I have several years of working experience as a certified Air Education and Training Command Master Instructor,” Rojas said.

Rojas’s extensive military training and background led him to pursue a career in regional, cultural and language studies—a natural fit for the AFCLC.

“While in the Air Force, my primary career field was Space and Missile Operations. Given that I am fluent in Spanish, I had the opportunity to certify as a Regional Affairs Strategist for Latin America, which opened the doors to assignments at U.S. Southern Command Headquarters, Venezuela, Spain, and temporary duty in Chile.

“While on active duty, given my background as a Regional Affairs Strategist and my last assignment being at the International Officer School, I was interested in pursuing a civilian job dealing with or researching the different cultures from around the world.

“At the time, back in 2016, I accepted a position as a member of the courseware and curriculum development team providing support to the AFCLC, which included providing research activities for supported country and region distance courses. I performed research to ensure and verify cultural and regional expertise elements in courses were true, current and relevant. It has and continues to be a rewarding experience to be a member of the AFCLC team with such an important mission of improving cultural competence throughout the U.S. Air Force,” Rojas said.

In his current work, Rojas enjoys learning about the various cultures from around the world. His current area of study is often overlooked but is instrumental in strategic competition: The Arctic Region.

“Given the global environment that we currently live in, it is important to study various cultures because it allows for better interaction and more acceptance and tolerance of each other’s beliefs,” Rojas said.

In the past year, Rojas has compiled Arctic-related research on several topics, including:
* People, Groups, and Language around the Alaskan Region
* Foreign Government and Nation Influences in the Arctic Region
* China and Russia’s Involvement in the Arctic
* Family and Religion in the Arctic Region
* Gender Roles in the Arctic Region
* Social Issues in the Arctic Region
He is currently compiling research on economics and resources as well as technology and materials in the Arctic Region.

In addition to developing cross-cultural competence in the Arctic Region, Rojas also enjoys serving his community through various volunteer opportunities. He volunteers with a local Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Citizen Patrol Program, responding to non-emergency calls, performing neighborhood watch patrols, assisting with school crossings, and assisting with other community issues that do not require law enforcement or regulatory authority. He also volunteers with the United Services Organizations and serves as a Notary Public for the State of Florida, where he offers free Notary services to all active-duty military, law enforcement and other first responders.

To view Rojas' compilation of research material on the Arctic Region, visit


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