By Seth Maggard, AFCLC
The suspended golden scenery, suffused by litanies of droning insects and searing pavement from the scorching Alabama sun, has given way to a tattoo of boots and book bags meandering through the Air University campus. The corporeal silence of another summer break has been shattered by the bustle of thousands of new students as Maxwell AFB is once again home to a mélange of military uniforms from a variety of services and nations.
Academic Year 2017 is already shaping up to be an exciting time for both faculty and students as they rev into a cycle saturated with strategic knowledge of Airpower. That knowledge is predicated with concepts of cultural education as well as shared experiences in building international partnerships. The Air Force Culture and Language Center is all too familiar with Language, Regional Expertise and Culture education as the essence of its multi-faceted menu of programs. The faculty is a stellar lineup of academic minds from the anthropological field, who provide a perfect blend of cross-cultural understanding with operational considerations in classroom scenarios.
Dr. Scott Edmondson is currently teaching his first full iteration of students at the Air Command and Staff College, a core course titled International Security Studies 1.
“Total force aspects of our mission are unique to many of our discussions,” Edmondson said “to have an anthropologist, international military, Airmen, Marines, and Army leaders interacting on the same classroom topic is a valuable opportunity.”
Edmondson will also teach an elective this January, called “Power and Identity Security in the African Post Colony,” that sits closer to his field of research and study involvement. AFCLC instructors share the responsibility of teaching core courses with AU staff as one of its many partnerships to ensure optimal culture education to the total force. He and his 12 students are in contact multiple times a week, engaging in guided cultural discussions designed by Edmondson to challenge their thinking on relevant matters.
The partnership and symbiotic relationships do not end at ACSC, however, as Dr. Patricia Fogarty can attest. She has been involved in several academic cycles at AU, and is currently teaching a cutting-edge elective at Air War College, titled “Contending with Corruption: Perspectives on Corruption and Anti-Corruption Initiatives.”
“My primary focus is for these students to be able to not simply diagnose cultural scenarios in the classroom, but to guide their understanding to create operators who can diagnose real-world events in the future,” said Fogarty.
The course answers a call outside of the AU classroom as well.
“It fulfills a need for our students to receive some unique and specific culture education, as well as a need mandated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” she said while holding copies of the syllabus in an eager fashion to spread knowledge about the new opportunities that AFCLC is a part of.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has mandated a need to support future joint operations through training and education. Interoperability is a paramount focus of many of the courses offered by AFCLC staff, but this course focuses predominantly on the intricate paradigm of international corruption across three landscapes: cultural, economic, and political. Because of this exact method of delivery, Fogarty’s course has helped AU fulfill a Special Elective requirement in order to meet the Chairman’s priorities for Language Regional Expertise and Culture inclusion in military education.
“It has taken a great deal of planning and coordination on our parts to be able to offer this course, but it is ultimately a win-win for AU, AFCLC, and most importantly, our students,” Fogarty remarked after completing the first week of lectures in the course’s term-long schedule.
Partnerships have reached new heights for AFCLC faculty beginning with this academic year.
Instructors and students alike are placing an overwhelming influence on the importance of LREC education that will have a ripple effect throughout the entire military. International collaboration and current knowledge from cultures around the world are part of the driving force maintaining Air University’s place at the forefront of professional military education, as well as adapting Airpower for a global future.