MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
In August 2020, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. wrote in his strategic plan entitled Accelerate Change or Lose, “We must empower our incredible Airmen to solve any problem. We must place value in multicapable and adaptable team builders and courageous problem solvers that demonstrate value in diversity of thought, ingenuity and initiative.”
In keeping with Brown’s mandate of “Accelerate Change or Lose,” the Air Force Culture and Language Center is co-hosting a cyber educational event July 20-29, 2021, to take a closer look at cyber operations in today’s era of global strategic competition.
AFCLC partnered with the Air Force Cyber College, Air War College, Defense Language Institute Training Detachment, and the U.S. Air Force Academy to host the event at the Teaching and Learning Center and Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education at Air University.
During the two-week Language Intensive Training Event, an elite group from the Language Enabled Airman Program will focus on Brown’s “Action Order Charlie” by exploring strategic competition between global powers and the roles they will play in the cyber enterprise as language enabled Airmen and Guardians.
For this training exercise, AFCLC answered Brown’s “Action Order Alpha” mandate by exploring how the U.S. and other cultures approach partnership and competition in cyberspace. The ability to disrupt U.S. military and civilian operations is no longer a hypothetical exercise perpetrated by bad actors. The number of cyber threats to our nation’s security increase each year.
“For the next 10 days, our LEAP scholars are participating in a first-of-its-kind learning opportunity to empower them to explore cyber issues relevant to national security,” said AFCLC Director Howard Ward. “These scholars came to this course already having completed pre-course online sessions to establish their understanding of course initiatives and expectations from their on-site instructors. As a result, they have a solid foundation now for the discussions to follow. In addition, Air University consistently invents and reinvents the way Airmen and Guardians prepare to prevail against an adversary. Critical thinking skills are imperative for mission success, and AFCLC and its partners are blending high-end academic education from Air University Cyber College faculty with robust, professional language education from the DLIFLC Language Training Detachment to help make these Airmen and Guardians fluent in today’s cyber threats.”
Guest speakers will present a wide range of cyber and information operations topics with an eye toward today’s era of global strategic competition. DLIFLC and USAFA faculty will guide student discussions in the target languages of Chinese-Mandarin, German and Russian as LEAP scholars work in small groups on their presentations focusing on the value of understanding competitors’ and partners’ language and culture to U.S. cyber and information operations tactics, operations and strategy.
“This cyber course is answering the call of the chief of staff of the Air Force’s direction to empower Airmen for a high-end fight as we sharpen our focus on global strategic competition,” said Lt. Gen. James B. Hecker, Air University commander and president. “We can no longer assume today’s U.S. Air Force has assumed dominance. Instead, we must give our Airmen these bold tools to develop technologically advanced, operationally proactive concepts to deliver the global effects necessary to deter future armed conflicts.”
LEAP scholars will participate in intensive study of cyber threats to our nation’s security in their target language and associated regional culture during the event. Speaking in either Chinese-Mandarin, German and Russian, the scholars will grow linguistically, culturally and professionally as military communicators in their languages; expand their knowledge and comprehension of cybersecurity issues; explore how U.S. and other cultures approach partnership/competition in cyberspace; and comprehend how language and culture shape other nations’ approaches to cybersecurity. Topics will range from cyber strategic culture, cybersecurity and computing, cyber myths, information warfare, cyber economics and cyber law.
“This Cyber LITE provides a unique opportunity for up-and-coming leaders to inject essential cyber thinking and planning into our allies’ and partners’ successes in the information environment,” said Col. David B. Bosko, commandant, Air Force Cyber College.
For the LEAP scholars, who have been preparing for this course prior to arriving at Maxwell, they are looking forward to not only sharpening their language skills and cultural knowledge, but also excited for the opportunity to use their unique training in the cyber domain.
“As a space operations officer, cyber issues touch every aspect of space operations, and the cyber domain is critical to the successful execution of space operations. This course is a phenomenal intersection between my operations career and language skill development through LEAP,” said Capt. Joseph Babitsky, a Chinese Mandarin LEAP Scholar. “This event will provide me greater expertise in the cyber field with the added benefit of sharpening my Chinese language skills. I would be able to leverage vocabulary and cultural knowledge learned in this course to better interpret intelligence threat briefings and understand the adversary.”
The course is an active learning activity with prescribed outcomes. The 21 LEAP scholars will break into smaller workgroups during the two weeks to prepare specialized projects for the last day of the course. The final project will be a brief presentation, in their respective language, addressing a problem or concern around cybersecurity and include a one-page brief in English addressing linguistic and cultural nuances that may inform U.S. cyber and information strategy integrating perspectives gained through the course and from their personal and professional experiences. Scholars will present their final projects to a roundtable of instructors, peers and senior mentors. As part of their learning experience, the scholars will also offer a five-minute perspective on video for incorporation into a post-course Cyber LITE video.
“In the cyber domain, advanced knowledge of languages and cultures is key to identifying and understanding the nature of real and potential threats. Furthermore, these skills are essential to strengthening interoperability with our international allies and partners,” said Dr. Thomas Stovicek, LTD site director, DLIFLC-CE-Field Support. “We expect these LEAP Scholars to leave this course feeling more confident that they are ready to put their unique combination of skills to work in tackling these challenges.”