Language training detachment stands up in Europe

by Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — With defense leaders emphasizing the importance of language and cultural training to support military operations worldwide, Defense Language Institute officials have established a new detachment in Germany to provide follow-on sustainment training for military linguists based in Europe.

Staff members at the language training detachment, at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, will provide “substantive and direct support” to linguists assigned to both U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command and their subordinate elements, said Dan Rugelbrugge, who oversees the effort.

Previously, linguists in Europe had to rely on distance learning or mobile training teams for sustainment training after graduating from the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey in California.

With the new language training detachment, “We are going to ensure that the people we initially trained are continually trained at that level, which is a pretty high standard,” Mr. Rugelbrugge said.

The detachment will operate like those that specialists at DLI’s Foreign Language Institute manage at more than a dozen military sites in the continental U.S. and Hawaii to provide operational units recurrent language familiarization and cultural awareness training.

Mr. Rugelbrugge, an Army linguistics specialist and combat veteran who has served all over the world, arrived at his new EUCOM post about three months ago. He currently is assessing training requirements and plans to hire permanent teachers and other support staff as he slowly grows the program to support demand.

French language training “is constantly requested,” he said, as well as training in German and Russian. In addition, the detachment is expected to support wartime requirements in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with enhancement training in the Dari and Pashto languages.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized during a visit last year to the Defense Language Institute that no training is more vital to the U.S. military than education in critical foreign languages and culture.

While language opens doors to an exchange of information and ideas, he said it also can be a window into the culture of a foreign people.

“It is really important that we listen to other people, that we listen to other cultures, that we pay attention to how they see their problems,” Admiral Mullen told the DLI students. “I call that seeing it through their eyes, putting yourself in a position that actually focuses on what they are thinking about, as opposed to how we think about them, or how we think about, in our Western ways, we might solve their problems.”