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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

CAOCL closes cultural gap

By Cpl. Gabriela Gonzalez | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | January 15, 2009

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Before deploying, Marines on Camp Pendleton have the opportunity to participate in language and cultural training based on mission-specific, functional areas.

The Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning offers pre-deployment training to prompt Marines to educate and train themselves to greater lengths to understand the enemy. Since 2005, CAOCL has served as the only Marine Corps institution singularly focused on culture and language skills and their impact on operations. 

The Pre-Deployment Training Program, developed by CAOCL, has developed training models for the operating force that incorporate culture and language training throughout the PTP process, said George Dallas, director, CAOCL.  

Lance Cpl. Elizabeth Schmidt, intelligence analyst and security chief, Combat Logistics Regiment, 1st Marine Logistics Group, initially took PTP CAOCL courses in November 2005 to prepare for forward intelligence operations in the al Anbar Province. At the time, her work section mandated cultural and language training, but Schmidt said she enjoyed it and has since pursued Arabic language and cultural training on her own.

“Cultural and language training are an extremely valuable tool. With service members deploying at a constant rate, it’s imperative to understand even our basic differences,” said Schmidt.

The Iraqi language submersion course she initially took was four weeks long and helped her understand the Iraqi culture as a whole, she said. The differences between the Western and Eastern world are remarkable, she added.

“Continuous eye contact is viewed as inappropriate even amongst the male gender. Eye contact between a male and female for more than a brief moment is prohibited, even punishable,” Schmidt said.

PTP is broken down into four blocks of instruction in ascending competency levels, said Dallas. 

Block I and II training are mandatory for all Marines and conducted at the Marine’s home base. Additional training is provided in a field environment, such as Mojave Viper, approved by the Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

To support additional unit needs, CAOCL is available through Marine Expeditionary Force Liaison Officers, Language Learning Resource Centers and mobile-training teams.

“We will always do our best to accommodate all training requests,” said Dallas.
All eight major Marine Corps Bases around the world are scheduled to open at least one LLRC per base at a tentative date, Dallas added.

“It’s not only beneficial to understand the culture of the land you are deployed to, but by continuing the education, you gain a better understanding of the root of certain societal conflicts,” said Schmidt.

For more information, log on to www.tecom.usmc.mil/ caocl/ or contact your battalion operations or training officer.



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