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LEAP Spotlight: Maj. Oscar Castro

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  • By AFCLC Outreach Team

“I was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to Pensacola, FL, to pursue a college education in Mathematics with a concentration in Computer Science. Upon graduation, I joined the U.S. Navy in 2007 as a Hospital Corpsman and was attached to a Marine Corps unit for more than three years. During this time, I completed a master’s degree in healthcare administration and joined the U.S. Air Force in 2013 as a Healthcare Administrator filling various positions prior to deploying to Bagram AB in 2018 and later completing a fellowship in Data Analytics in 2021.

“I was raised in Peru, and the language and culture were part of my daily life. Growing up, I had the opportunity to meet people from different regions within Peru and learn about the intricacies of their backgrounds. I also befriended exchange students from various parts of the world, which led me to further appreciate the differences in cultures and language variations.

“On my way to Bagram, I shared a meal with a senior master sergeant at the chow hall, and upon realizing we both spoke Spanish, he quickly brought up the Language Enabled Airman Program. He explained at length how it all worked, and I was immediately hooked on the possibility of not only continuing to use my skills for the benefit of our nation but further cement our bonds through cultural understanding, involvement, and relationships between partner nations.

“I recently attended a Language Intensive Training event in Colombia, and my experience was extremely fruitful and very rewarding. I immersed myself in the culture and further developed my understanding of how we partner with them at a level beyond strategic. The complexities within our partnerships delve beyond what a text, newspaper, or other curated media source could explain. The value of the experience couldn’t be quantified with mere numbers, and the intimate knowledge of how we and the host nation preposition ourselves against other state agents - like China and Russia - and the effects within the political climate proved invaluable. Being able to share the experience with a phenomenal group of Airmen and create deep bonds with them capped an outstanding mission.

“Beyond my Colombia LITE, I’ve provided support through my language skills by helping translate mission plans and documentation for large scale exercises like PANAMAX where 33 nations converge within SOUTHCOM to ensure support and aid on diverse operations utilizing full scale mobility and partnership.

“I’m currently assigned as the Deputy Division Chief of Analysis and Assessments for the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, thus supporting the Air Force Medical Service by analyzing data sets to advance medical readiness for line assets and augment the strength of the ready medical force. My experience with LEAP helps me better understand the perspective of the necessity for cultural understanding and utilize it in discussions on International Health and Global Health missions to better support the Air Force.

“LEAP has allowed me the ability to continue honing my language skills and utilizing them to better support the Department of the Air Force on an array of different fronts. It has also provided me the opportunity to meet new people not only from other cultures and foreign military departments but within the Air Force as well.

“LEAP is a phenomenal program that cultivates a passion for language and cultural diversity and allows one to put our inherent skills to good use to propel missions to success. The array of opportunities and people you will meet is too vast to describe; it is honestly a hidden gem, and I couldn’t be happier on my decision to join LEAP.

“I can only hope I am able to continue supporting LEAP and the Air Force in any facet and capability possible within my reach. This program is outstanding, and it’s opened so many opportunities within my career.”

-Spanish LEAP Scholar Maj. Oscar Castro

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