Pilot takes initiative to learn language

  • Published
  • By Karen Harrison
  • Language, Region and Culture Program Office
In today's global world, Air Force mission success depends on Airmen's ability to communicate and collaborate across diverse cultural environments.

Inspired by this idea, one Air Force pilot has taken the initiative to learn Japanese through the Air Force's Language Enabled Airman Program.

Despite not needing Japanese in his daily job, Capt. John Wright recognized the benefits of having language proficiency for himself and the Air Force mission.

"Language, region and cultural knowledge teaches you how to relate to people, which is essential to earning their trust and cooperation," Wright said.

To develop his language skills, Wright has taken advantage of internal Air Force language resources. He first encountered LEAP through a robot message from the Air Force Culture and Language Center advertising language resources available to the total force.

Wright investigated the AFCLC website, http://www.culture.af.mil/, and located free language, region and cultural resources available for all Airmen. Wright subsequently applied to and was accepted into LEAP in September 2011.

The LEAP program is designed to sustain and grow the existing language skills and talents of Airmen via online and classroom instruction.

"I'm currently a member of LEAP and the experience has been very rewarding," Wright said.

In addition to the potential opportunities available with additional language capability, Wright's initiative to participate in LEAP has not gone unnoticed by his supervisors.
Lt. Col. Scott West, Wright's commander, commended the captain's efforts.

"The Air Force mission requires us to be ready to interact with so many countries," West's said. "Airmen like Captain Wright ensure we're effective wherever we're called."
Wright said he believes it is important for Airmen to obtain a basic level of language, region and cultural knowledge.

"As a pilot, it has been great because I have a basic familiarity with culture," Wright said. "This familiarity has made me confident to operate anywhere abroad the Air Force might send me. Emphasis on language skills must be spread across the career spectrum."

"Developing a robust language benefits system takes time," said Barbara Barger, the Air Force senior language authority. "Airmen who take it upon themselves to learn a language demonstrate the potential our total force has to be truly cross-culturally competent."