Website promotes cultural awareness education

by Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON ― A new Defense Department Internet portal promotes education in cultural differences to support mission readiness.

The Defense Language Office and the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute developed the site to acquire, build and sustain cross-cultural competence across the total force, officials said.

Although the portal was designed with service members and DOD civilians in mind, officials said its information is available to other government employees, non-DOD educators and trainers and social scientists.

The new portal provides self-paced training for leaders to learn effective communication across cultural lines at home and abroad, officials
said. Offerings include gaming technologies, interactive videos, storytelling scenarios and lifelike avatars to stimulate critical thinking and learning.
Leadership development applications also assess users on their self-awareness and perceptions of team performance.

Nancy E. Weaver, Defense Language Office director, said the site is a “critical enabler for all DOD personnel, especially given the global nature of operations.”
In an August memorandum to DOD personnel, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta stressed the importance of cross-cultural training.

Both military and civilian personnel should have cross-cultural training to successfully work in DOD’s richly diverse organization, and to better understand the global environment in which we operate,” the secretary wrote.

Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, also stressed that cross-cultural training is vital to the Defense Department’s mission.
“It is imperative that our men and women in our military and civilian corps are prepared for the linguistic, geographical and cultural complexities of international environments to successfully meet the operational demands of our global communities,” he said.