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LEAP Scholars and FAOs Support U.S. Army Exercise Lightning Focus 22

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

A team of five French and four Arabic Language Enabled Airman Program Scholars provided language and tactical support to U.S. Army Europe and Africa for Exercise Lightning Focus 2022 through the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Training Partnership Request. 

“It’s always a pleasure to team up for win-win collaborations that are timely and relevant to current operations,” AFCLC Director Mr. Howard Ward said. “This exercise emphasized how culture and language skills are essential to mission readiness for an expeditionary force for both partner interoperability and adversary understanding.”

The 207th Military Intelligence Brigade Theater, the Intelligence and Security Command intelligence Brigade assigned to U.S. Africa Command, executed exercise Lightning Focus 2022 to certify the Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence  Platforms of the 307th Forward Collection Battalion. LF22  replicated the 307th FCB in a deployed environment by exposing Soldiers to operational tactics for HUMINT Collection Teams  during live replications of interrogations, source operations, friendly force debriefs, and military screenings. This exercise also prepared the unit for future completion of USAFRICOM Exercise African Lion, an annual joint-multilateral exercise that furthers U.S. partnerships and prepares the region for coalition operations in response to emerging threats. 

“This certification is critical to our readiness to support Southern European Task Force-Africa and USAFRICOM requirements across the African continent,” Col. Mark A. Denton, Commander of the 207th Military Intelligence Brigade Theater, said.

During LF22, LEAP Scholars worked with Counterintelligence Teams conducting military counterintelligence collection, liaison, investigations, and screenings. They also assisted in replicating enemy communications for signals intelligence simulation, which allowed for more challenging and realistic training opportunities for Soldiers.

“The LEAP Airmen were vital in the execution and delivery of excellent HUMINT and Counter-intelligence training for my collectors, the teams, and our intelligence platforms. They served as role players and linguists for the HUMINT and CI collectors, which allowed our training to be more realistic by forcing our Soldiers to use their language skills,” Denton said. “Each individuals’ unique and broad experience made the training realistic and challenging, allowing our Soldiers to practice collection operations as they would in theater.”

Arabic LEAP Scholar Maj. Laura Abbott supported this exercise and currently serves as a Foreign Area Officer in a joint billet. This mission provided her with a developmental experience to enhance her understanding of partner interoperability with U.S. Army leadership and counterparts.

“This Language Intensive Training Event was a unique experience to observe an Army military intelligence brigade go through a well-developed exercise that focused on a fictitious North Africa conflict scenario,” Abbott said. “It was a great opportunity to understand how the Army, particularly Army Human Intelligence, trains and operates. In the long term, I could see this experience as a form of preparation for a deployed environment for FAOs like myself who work in joint bullets.”

For French LEAP Scholar Capt. Reuben Luone, this experience broadened his insight for a better understanding of NATO operations and other AORs for future involvement.

“During this LITE, we interacted with the 307th FCB and associated military intelligence professionals from the 3rd Infantry Division, scenario developers from the INSCOM Intelligence and Training Center, planners and exercise developers from the Joint Multinational Simulation Center, and intelligence professionals from both the 513th and 300th Military Intelligence Brigades,” Luone said. “It exposed me and other LEAP Scholars to Army and intelligence operations that we would not otherwise understand or be aware of. In seeing military intelligence operations, this LITE helped me have a more robust understanding of the intelligence products I use and consume in my daily job. This LITE also helped further U.S. foreign policy by honing, training, and certifying U.S. intelligence-gathering assets for operations in Northern Africa. This experience will make us more effective in deployed and other operational requirements where we are required to form effective teams with total force service members.”

As recognition for their outstanding support, the LEAP team received Army Achievement Medals and were invited to support the exercise again next year.

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