SC(E) Participates In Cultural Awareness Training

Story by Maj. Jay R. Adams
13th SC(E) PAO

Senior Leaders from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) joined other Fort Hood Soldiers and Soldiers from as far away as Hawaii and Germany at cultural awareness training at the Peace Operations Training Center in Camp Zarqa, Jordan, last week.

The training was designed to improve understanding of Arab culture in general, and Iraqi culture in specific, in preparation for their deployment to Iraq later this year.

Sponsored by the Coalition Force Land Component Command, Third United States Army, the mission is "to familiarize deploying U.S. Army leaders with the cultural aspects of Iraqi society and to provide them with cultural considerations they can incorporate in home-station training prior to their deployment to Iraq."

CFLCC sponsors two distinct versions of the training. The first is designed for field grade officers and command sergeants major. The second is designed for company grade officers and senior non-commissioned officers. The 13th SC (E) is participating in both.

In addition to serving as the central logistics headquarters in Iraq, the 13th SC (E) will play a key role in mentoring and training Iraqi logistics units. The leaders who traveled to Jordan expect the training they received to provide a head start in training the Iraqi forces.

SC (E) Soldiers plunged into Arab culture on the first training day as Jordanian Soldiers and trained tour guides led them to significant historical sites in the Kingdom of Jordan.

The Soldiers chose one of four separate tours ranging from biblical sites such as Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea to the city of Jerash, one of the best preserved cities of the ancient Roman Decapolis.

"It was one thing to study about historical Roman civilizations with its cultural impact on the Middle East in college," said Chief Warrant Officer Tommy Ankenbauer, an intelligence officer with the 13th SC (E). "However, it is another to actually have visited the city of Jerash with its Roman emphasis still intact and still being uncovered."

Many Soldiers practiced the art of negotiation at bazaars set up near the historical sites. Ankenbauer was greeted immediately by a local vendor selling traditional Arab head gear. After a brief but tough negotiation, Ankenbauer and several other Soldiers closed their deals and continued the tour wearing the Shumagg.

Later, Ankenbauer and his group were able to sample a traditional Arab meal at a Jordanian Restaurant.

Command Sgt. Maj. Ricky E. Knox of the 13th SC (E)'s 49th Movement Control Battalion, identified the tour as the highlight of the training. "The tour gave us a chance to mingle with the community and actually see the history," said Knox.

The second and third days of training were dominated by lectures and practical exercises on Arab culture and language.

For introductory language training, the Soldiers were broken into four groups with each group being led through scenarios by a Jordanian officer. The Soldiers conducted these scenarios using the basic Arab language phrases they had just learned.

Later, select Soldiers led by Col. Michael S. Galloucis, commander of the 89th MP Brigade, conducted a simulated negotiation with a Jordanian Soldier playing the role of the local Sheikh. This exercise followed a class on negotiations and was conducted using an Arabic interpreter. Soldiers were briefed on how to effectively negotiate while avoiding cultural pitfalls.

Another highlight was a brief on women in Arab society given by a female Jordanian Lieutenant Colonel.

"I have visited other Arab countries during my military career, but Jordan is the first Arab country I have visited where women are allowed to participate in its military and display a more prominent role in their society as a whole," said Ankenbauer.

A trip to the Jordanian International Police Training Center on day four provided many Soldiers their first opportunity to interact with future Iraqi Security Forces.

The center was established to train Iraqi police cadets and runs for approximately two months. These cadets receive training from former law enforcement officers from 14 different nations. Roughly 3,000 Iraqi cadets are training at any given time.

A Brigadier from the Iraqi Police helps supervise the training and spoke to the Soldiers about the importance of the center. While thanking the U.S. Soldiers for their role in helping the people of Iraq, the Brigadier requested they continue to assist the Iraqi Police in fighting the insurgency.

The final days of training included courses on counter insurgency and techniques for countering improvised explosive devices.

Knox found the counter insurgency training to be especially interesting saying, "in my job we don't get a chance to tackle that." Knox identified the COIN classes as one of his biggest "take aways."

This training is the latest in a series of events designed to prepare the 13th SC(E) for its upcoming combat mission in Iraq. Leaders of the 13th previously conducted a series of conferences in conjunction with the unit they will replace and the subordinate units they will command. Soldiers continue individual training and situational training exercises designed to prepare them for what they will experience in Iraq.

Knox said he plans to use the ideas he got from the scenarios in training his own Soldiers. "We will utilize Soldiers with different language backgrounds to simulate what we did here." Knox continued, "The main thing is for my Soldiers to understand the basics."

Knox felt it is important his Soldiers learn to develop a mutual respect with the Iraqi people. "If you can be genuine, you can pretty much get along with most Iraqis."

The 13th SC(E) expects to bring all of this training together during a mission rehearsal exercise this summer.