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Training Partnership Request: A Strategic Method for LEAP and FAO Utilization

Language Enabled Airman Program Scholars Technical Sergeant Eric Johnson and Captain Matthew Fryer are two of the many service members who have built partnerships and interoperability through Training Partnerships. Fryer and Johnson applied their advanced Japanese language skills during Northern Viper 2020, an exercise that involved the United States Marine Corps 4th Marine Regiment and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Language Enabled Airman Program Scholars Technical Sergeant Eric Johnson and Captain Matthew Fryer are two of the many service members who have built partnerships and interoperability through Training Partnerships. Fryer and Johnson applied their advanced Japanese language skills during Northern Viper 2020, an exercise that involved the United States Marine Corps 4th Marine Regiment and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. (Courtesy photo)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

The Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Language Enabled Airman Program deliberately develops language enabled, cross-cultural service members across the Air Force and Space Force with working-level foreign language proficiency to better support the application of air and space power through strengthening partnerships and interoperability.

One innovative pathway available for advanced LEAP Scholars and Foreign Area Officers to support mission success is AFCLC’s Training Partnership Request.

TPRs allow the Department of Defense and other governmental organizations needing short-term language and/or culture support to request LEAP Scholar and FAO assistance through AFCLC. Through these experiences, advanced LEAP Scholars hone their skills in support of a vast range of language and culture-related missions, such as document translations, virtual conferences, and in-person events such as exercises, conferences, mobile training teams, etc.

“TPRs facilitate effective and efficient matching of LEAP Scholars and FAOs to ad hoc taskings that are important to building interoperability and partnerships. Department of Defense and other governmental organizations have found TPRs as a means of connecting their short-term mission needs to talented Airmen and Guardians. They can bring not only their language skills to a mission but also their career field knowledge. Through TPR-driven Language Intensive Training Events, LEAP Scholars can make a big difference in a short period of time,” Mr. Christopher Chesser, AFCLC Language Division Chief, said.

TPRs benefit organizations by facilitating the language and culture support they need and provides LEAP Scholars and FAOs with invaluable experience to enhance their language and culture skillset while supporting strategic and relevant missions that assist the U.S. in building partnerships. AFCLC has provided, and continuously provides, language and culture support to Air Force units, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, among others.

“The Training Partnership Request method is easy to use, effective, and has been essential in us completing our mission here at DPAA since we began utilizing the AFCLC program. Every civilian, contractor and Air Force service member we have had the pleasure of working with has been prompt, polite, and professional. We look forward to continuing this useful partnership in the future!” Megan Fedorczyk, the European Mediterranean Directorate of DPAA, said.

When contacted by a potential sponsoring organization, AFCLC searches for advanced LEAP Scholars and/or FAOs who match the requested language, rank, and career field. AFCLC then selects the best individuals to participate based on who meets qualifications and would benefit most professionally from the event. Those who are selected and interested in supporting the TPR must receive approval from their unit commanders to participate.

Selected LEAP Scholars and FAOs work with the sponsor, alongside AFCLC, to become fully prepared for what the mission entails. Event duration may range from a few days to several months, and financial sponsorship by the requesting organization for Defense Travel System costs is required. The sponsoring organization is also responsible for overseeing the safety and security of LEAP Scholars and FAOs, ensuring they are afforded an opportunity to grow and develop in their language and providing detailed pre-travel training requirements and materials.

AFCLC facilitates the entire TPR process, tracking service members’ completion of country clearance requirements, airline itinerary, lodging, and in-country transportation plans. At the conclusion of the mission, sponsoring organizations, LEAP Scholars and FAOs are afforded the opportunity to offer feedback via a sponsor survey, post-immersion survey, and After-Action Report.

“When we receive a request, we’re able to find the right LEAP Scholar or FAO to match the needs of the request and the nature of the mission. Through TPRs, we’re able to see a return on investment of the training that we've been doing, so that's why this method is great,” Capt. Krista Bible, Operations Officer for AFCLC Language Division, said.

In the year 2021 alone, LEAP Scholars have supported several major military events through TPRs, such as Exercise African Lion 21, Exercise Defender 21, and Exercise Combined Resolve.

U.S. Africa Command’s Exercise African Lion 21 is a joint, multi-national exercise in Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal linked to U.S. European Command’s Exercise Defender 21 to counter malign influence in North Africa and increase interoperability. During this event, eight Arabic and French LEAP Scholars provided language and culture support to U.S. Army units. Additionally, before the exercise, 30 LEAP Scholars and FAOs teamed up to form four document translation teams to translate a total of more than 600 pages/slides.

DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a large-scale U.S. Army-led exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the United States, NATO allies, and partner militaries. During this event, 13 LEAP Scholars provided language support to multiple U.S. Army units across Europe in Albanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Romanian and Serbo-Croatian languages. They translated 18 pages/slides across six different documents in Albanian, Arabic, German, Polish and Slovenian languages supporting DEFENDER-Europe 21 units.

This summer, a team of four LEAP Scholars also provided Polish language support to U.S. Army units for Exercise Combined Resolve and its associated joint exercises in Germany and Poland. Exercise Combined Resolve evaluates and assesses the readiness of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division to fight and win during their regionally allocated forces rotation in support of Atlantic Resolve. The exercise also focuses on strengthening interoperability with multinational partners.

“The Utah National Guard (151 Medical Group) was very impressed with LEAP, and we are eager to request LEAP support in our continued state partnership with Morocco and future African Lions. We were pleasantly surprised by LEAP’s responsiveness and administrative professionalism. We were also impressed with LEAP’s ability to combine both language and cultural competency. Without LEAP, the mission would have lacked a critical human element in our mission to win hearts and minds,” Col. Christensen, Utah Guard, 151 Medical Group, said.

With the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, AFCLC shifted to facilitating a high volume of virtual TPRs.

“We always did virtual requests before, but during the pandemic, we increased our number of virtual requests. Often, virtual requests will include translating documents, but during COVID, we received a lot of requests for virtual conferences as well through platforms like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. That wasn't something we received a lot of requests for before, but it's something that we have gotten quite a few requests for during the pandemic. Even after the pandemic is over, this may be something that carries into the future,” Capt. Bible said.

Since 2017, Advanced LEAP Scholars and FAOs have supported more than 260 TPRs in more than 50 different languages.

Organizations are encouraged to submit requests as early as possible, preferably 120 days before the event. Sponsoring organizations may submit requests via the Language Enabled Development Resource (LEaDeR) by visiting https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/AFCLC/ and selecting the “Language Support Request” option on the sidebar menu. CAC access and AF Portal access is required to access the request form. A PDF request form is also available for those without AF Portal access and can be requested.

Read about recent TPRs LEAP Scholars have completed at https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/AFCLC/News/. For more information on the TPR method or to request a PDF request form for those without AF Portal access, contact AFCLC.LEAP.Admin@us.af.mil.