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Language-Enabled Airman Strengthens Partnership with U.S. Navy

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  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team

Ukrainian and Russian Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar Capt. Jordan Garcia enhanced partner interoperability with the U.S Naval Special Warfare Command by providing language support to the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

In Action Order C for Competition, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. emphasized collaborating with allies and partners to develop integrated solutions for the United States Air Force. After connecting on a deployment, Garcia received the opportunity to collaborate with the Navy to strengthen that partnership and provide a solution that benefited both NAVSCIATTS and the USAF.

“I made contact with NAVSCIATTS while I was on deployment, and they were looking for service members with language skills to assist during their travel and training,” Garcia said. “I notified them that I spoke Russian and Ukrainian and asked would they have any use for me, and they said ‘yes.’ Three years after that conversation, we were able to cash in on that partnership opportunity.”

NAVSCIATTS trains and educates foreign special operations forces, combat support forces, and combat service support forces across the tactical, operational, and strategic spectrums through in-residence and mobile training team courses of instruction. It also serves as U.S. Special Operations Command’s premier security force assistance training asset.

NAVSCIATTS' five regionally focused in-resident training semesters develops, shapes, and maintains strategic relationships with diverse partner forces to protect the nation’s investments and advance the interests of the United States and its partners and allies.

“Captain Garcia was part of the interpreter cadre for the U.S. European Command 22-2 semester at NAVSCIATTS,” explained Cmdr. Don Speights, the international schoolhouse’s commanding officer. “His language skills and interpretation were vital in conducting 18 hours of classroom instruction and 32 hours of high-risk practical evolutions for students from Ukraine.”

For three weeks during the NAVSCIATTS training course, Garcia directly interfaced with Ukrainian operators as an interpreter from English to Ukrainian on highly technical subjects.

“One of the Ukrainian students was originally working as an interpreter for the other students,” Garcia stated. “Interpreting takes a lot of focus, so it’s a pretty heavy burden to learn the material and interpret for your fellow students at the same time, especially as a foreign student.”

Garcia continued by stating, “After shadowing her for a day, I stepped in and did the interpreting for all of the Ukrainian students so she could focus on learning the material.”

Since working with Navy-focused subject matter was a new realm for Garcia, he leaned on his LEAP development and training as a foundation for support.

“It was critical to hit the ground running, so there was not a lot of time to get spun up on the technical terminology related to the subjects,” he stressed. “My development through LEAP training and eMentor courses helped me be able to adapt and learn at the speed I needed to during this experience. Since this was a new area of focus for me, the skill of learning how to learn that I’ve gained through LEAP really helped me.”

Through this experience, Garcia enhanced the experience for the Ukrainian students while increasing his own knowledge of naval operations. NAVSCIATTS also invited him to support this type of mission again in the future.

“This experience was fantastic from a joint perspective,” Garcia expressed. “It enhanced my understanding of how that sector of the Navy does its operations. It also increased my knowledge of the challenges that come with teaching foreign students.”

Garcia explained the primary benefit of working at the security cooperation command was participating in culture exchanges, which is necessary for NAVSCIATTS’ ability to formulate global relationships.

“One of the best parts about the experience was getting to spend time with the Ukrainian students outside of class and introduce them to a new culture,” he said. “A good portion of them had not been to America, so having me, as an American, to show them around during cultural excursions enhanced the overall experience for them and gave me a new perspective of how great our country is.”

Through this experience, Garcia was able to build long-term connections with Naval Special Warfare members and bring more awareness to the services LEAP Scholars can provide to the armed forces.

“The Navy now knows the Air Force houses a huge inventory of service members with language proficiency through LEAP, so they are aware of where they can get that support,” Garcia said. 

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