AFCLC Outreach Team
In the 2018 National Defense Strategy, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphasized the importance of building relationships, and developing a “robust constellation” of allies. A few weeks ago, he shared this message with Omani leaders, traveling to the country to discuss strengthening the two nations’ defense relationship.
Mattis message was echoed in the 2009 Counterinsurgency Training Guidance Memo from Gen Stanley McChrystal who said in part:
“Everyone should learn basic language skills. Every deployed person should be able to greet locals and say “thank you.” Each platoon, or like sized organization that will have regular contact with the population should have at least one leader that speaks Dari at least the 0+ level, with a goal of a level 1 in oral communication. This language skill is as important as your other basic combat skills.”
In the Air Force, thousands of service members speak Spanish, French, and even German. But, when it comes to languages like Amharic, you can count on one hand the number of speakers in the Air Force and TSgt Theodros “Teddy” Midru is one of them. Currently, over 100 million people in Ethiopia speak Amharic and TSgt Midru is one of the diamonds in the rough in the Air Force using his language skills to connect with them.
A Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) participant with the Air Force Culture and Language Center since 2014, TSgt Midru brought his Amharic skills up to a working professional level through LEAP’s online language training school, the eMentor program. Shortly after, he was selected to attend a LEAP language immersion, or Language Intensive Training Event (LITE), in Ethiopia. He spent the first part of his LITE learning the technical and professional Amharic required of the 818 MSAS BPC mission. The Building Partnership Capacity mission focuses on training African counterparts in all aspects of Air Mobility. This particular MSAS mission focused on training the Ethiopian Air Force (ETAF) on various aspects of aircraft maintenance. TSgt Midru was played a crucial role in the daily meetings and lesson preparations.
Thanks to AFCLC’s LEAP program, TSgt Midru not only speaks the rare language of the country, but as a maintainer himself, he speaks the job-specific lingo. His specialized skills allow him to go above and beyond to facilitate the exchange of the ideas and concepts behind the words. Through AFCLC’s program TSgt Midru is living out the 2018 National Defense Strategy everyday “Sharpening the American Military’s Competitive Edge” with language.