Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall addressed to participants virtually during the Air Force Cultural and Linguistic Center and Air UniversityThe Sixth Annual Symposium on Language, Regional Expertise and Culture, on October 13, thanking air and space professionals for continuing to hone their culture and language skills in the pursuit of creating alliances and partner capabilities in the defense of our nation.
“I want to underscore the important role language training and cultural understanding play in today’s global operations,” Kendall said in her opening remarks. “Language is a fighting ability. Our airmen and our Guardians operate in foreign countries around the world, and their ability to communicate in a foreign language and understand cultural nuances is critical to their success.
Kendall was quick to identify the strategic threat China brings to the table due in large part to a “significant risk of misinterpretation and missed signals.” China has been a frequent topic of discussion for the 26th Secretary of the Air Force, and he wasted no time in raising the topic with symposium attendees.
“Collectively, we Americans don’t have a proper understanding of Chinese culture,” he explained. “We run a significant risk of misinterpretation and missed signals when projecting our own outlook on Chinese stocks and communications. The work of Air University and the Air Force Culture and Language Center is crucial in developing cultural understanding. In every way, the training our Airmen and Guardians receive is essential to prepare them to join their colleagues on the front lines of global strategic competition.
Kendall further pointed out that Language activated Airman program (LEAP) Airmen and Guardians will continue to play a pivotal role in building strategic alliances for the United States, all built on a foundation of language, regional expertise and cultural competency.
“Our success in the Indo-Pacific depends on our allies and partners in the region… The development of these skills enables our Airmen, Guardians and Allied forces to operate effectively in a complex and interdependent international security environment,” a- he declared. “I think it is also important to note that the commonalities between the proficient Airmen and Guardians and the inclusion of diversity the efforts are very aligned. The LREC skills that we value bring women and men from diverse ethnic and academic backgrounds into our department. Diversity of cultural background, gender and professional experience is necessary for our future success.