By Airman 1st Class Charles Welty, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published March 30, 2018
Howard Ward, Air Force Cultural and Language Center director, welcomes attendees to the third annual Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Symposium on March 28, 2018, at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The two-day event welcomed experts from around the world to talk about the importance of culture, language and airpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by William Birchfield)
Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Isler, assistant deputy commander for the Air Forces Central Command and vice commander of the 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, speaks to guests during the third annual Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Symposium March 28, 2018, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Isler helped kick off the two-day event by speaking to the attendees who have traveled here from all around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by William Birchfield)
Meghan Bringuel, Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Symposium presenter, tries out the virtual environment created specifically for the symposium, March 29, 2018, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. This virtual environment was modelled after a South Korean restaurant and allowed up to two players to remotely experience aspects of the culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Charles Welty)
Col. Danielle Willis, Air War College student, asks a question during a keynote presentation, March 29, 2018, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Day two featured a presentation from Ms. Corine Wegender, heritage preservation officer for The Smithsonian Institution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Charles Welty)
Air University’s third annual Language, Regional Expertise and Culture Symposium took place on Wednesday and Thursday, here.
The event welcomed experts from around the world to talk about the importance of culture and language’s role in airpower. The theme for this year’s symposium was “Cultural Agility,” based on the Air Force Future Operating Concept for 2035, which focuses on operational agility.
“The symposium provides a unique platform for academic exchange on topics specific to culture and language education in the military, as well as a forum for the exchange of intercultural experiences and lessons learned,” noted Howard Ward, Air Force Cultural and Language Center director, in his memorandum for this year’s event.
Ward helped kick off the two-day event along with Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Isler, assistant deputy commander for the Air Forces Central Command and vice commander of the 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force at Shaw AFB, South Carolina.
“We need agile Airmen; Airmen who have the cultural awareness, who understand norms, who can read body language and who can work at the operational level,” Isler said.
Following the keynote, attendees were broken up into small groups to discuss topics such as virtual reality applications for LREC, force development, regional affairs and technologies for language learning and use.
One of the highlights from the event was a VR demonstration which featured a program, designed specifically for the symposium, that immersed users into a South Korean restaurant simulating an environment where a user is able to be exposed to the culture before ever setting foot in the country.
The simulation itself has the capability of hosting multiple users, allowing the opportunity for an instructor to use it simultaneously with a student for an immersive cultural training experience. AFCLC says they plan on using this technology to create more virtual environments like this one in the future.
"There couldn't be a more exciting time to be in the LREC space," Ward said. "U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke directly to us through the new National Defense Strategy by placing great importance on building alliances and interoperability with partner nations."
During his closing remarks, Ward shared his vision for the AFCLC over the next five years. He described it as being “the source,” or a one stop shop for anything culture and language related for not only the Air Force, but for anyone who is interested.
“Don’t go home and forget what you’ve learned here. Tell your commanders, tell your officers, tell everyone you know about cultural agility,” he said.
If interested in finding out more about the AFCLC and what they offer, visit their website at http://culture.af.mil/