AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

LEAP Spotlight: Capt. Ethan Sneider

  • Published
  • By Capt. Ethan Sneider, Hebrew LEAP Scholar

As a child, I knew I wanted to join the military. Watching exploits of heroic feats, exotic places and impossible missions drew my curiosity unlike any other profession. And in the profession of arms, in serving my nation, I found my true calling. 

I completed my bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in management. Shortly thereafter, I moved to Israel to begin a master’s in political science with a specialization in National Security Studies. 

While living in Israel, I studied Hebrew and further immersed myself in Israeli culture and its distinct way of life in the Middle East. The acumen gained from living abroad would directly relate later to the strength of my candidacy for being chosen as a Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar for the Air Force. 

Becoming a Hebrew language LEAP Scholar with a focus on the Middle East Area of operations helped position me to receive a rank waiver to deploy to Qatar, where I served as a liaison between the U.S. government and the host nation and coalition partners. 

The ability to demonstrate my partnership building capabilities, borne from the opportunities extended via my LEAP participation, helped lead me to the newly created position within Kessel Run as the Chief Adoption Officer. In this position, I was responsible for leading technological adoption efforts at Air Operations Centers. Through a boots-on-ground presence, my ability to establish and cultivate end-user relationships and improve emerging capability to stakeholders was essential for accomplishing and reaching major unit milestones.

I also took part in a LEAP Language Intensive immersion at the Ulpan Tel Aviv Institute in Israel while I was stationed at Kessel Run. This experience was unlike any other I have had the opportunity to take part in within the military. My sole focus of increasing my technical competence in Hebrew, coupled with extensive cultural training on Israeli society, was simultaneously challenging and rewarding. I studied for 6 hours a day on top of the regularly scheduled daily one-on-one tutoring. We traveled to culturally significant sites, toured prominent historical buildings, and connected to Israel through a local’s lens. I gave briefings, wrote official papers, and had meaningful interactions with the public, all in Hebrew.

The immersion was a non-stop total modality roller coaster. The LEAP Immersion offered an unparalleled experience for me as an active-duty USAF Officer to see how diplomacy, partnership training requests and allied nation interactions play a tremendous role in U.S. national security and in strengthening strategic alliances. As a member of a small group of DOD personnel uniquely qualified to forge strong relationships and help shape how the U.S. engages and operates with our allies, I am forever grateful for LEAP. I can’t stress enough its relevance and importance to the current posture of U.S. national security.

A common theme for my continued success throughout my military career has been along two key verticals: adaptability through cultural expertise and application of innovative technological adoption practices. LEAP is not solely a means to learn a language and study a culture, but a part of a holistic approach to becoming influential and impactful. You can grow your connections, not only through harnessing this prestigious program, but also in exploring how the strength of LEAP can propel you to success throughout your military career. 

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