Cultural Understanding and Language Program
September 11, 2010
An Experience to Last a Lifetime
For me, participating in CULP has been the greatest experience of my life so far. I had always wanted to study abroad in college, so I was beyond excited when I got accepted to go to China this past summer. I spent two months in Beijing studying the Chinese language and culture. Chinaís society, people, and system of government are so different, not only from United States, but from Western culture in general. Chinese people have a different sense of identity compared to our more individualistic way of life in America. Traveling and living in a foreign country changes your perspective on the world and your feelings about your own country. I look at the United States and our culture differently now. We are not always right and the rest of the world is not always wrong. The world is becoming smaller and smaller and learning about other cultures is something that Americans need to take in interest in. This is especially true for officers and soldiers in the Army. We do our most important work in other countries and cultures. If we do not educate ourselves about the people we are fighting or helping, then we cannot expect to get very far. My CULP experience has humbled me, given me further knowledge of the world, and made me appreciate the Army even more. There are countless Army programs and opportunities that can make you a better leader, and I know CULP has done this for me. I encourage everyone to do take advantage of the Armyís many opportunities especially CULP. If you let it, the Army can challenge and change you for the better!
Leadership Development and Assessment Course
There are two kinds of people that arrive for LDAC at Fort Lewis, Washington: those that feel emotionally and mentally prepared to be separated from their friends, family, and PHONE for 28 days, and those who are not. Although we would all like to be a part of the first group, the truth is that attending this culminating training at the end of the MS III year can be quite a difficult transition. There are even many prior service members at Ft. Lewis who are amazed by this stateside deployment at which the Cadre test all the skills ingrained into the Cadetís lives for the past two or three years in ROTC.
The first and last few days at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) are the hardest, as they are filled with in-processing documentation and have little to do with Army training. Once the PT Test is complete, the Land Navigation course and Field Leaders Reaction Course (FLRC) soon follow. As the Cadets who have been through any kind of Army training can tell you, the dirtier you get, the faster time flies. It is amazing to be a part of a squad that becomes closer than family in such a short amount of time. Itís also important to be able to work with these individuals, as they are the only help, motivation, and inspiration you will receive while there. The tactical evaluations given at LDAC were well received by Cadets from our Blackwolves Battalion; the training we receive at our home station more than adequately prepares our Cadets for the 28 day training in the summer.
Confidence is just as important as battle drill knowledge while out in the field. The evaluators are eager to develop Cadets into leaders of the Army who will be able to then teach others. The integration of basic operational organization combines with schemes of maneuver to create a week of grueling days, trekking through brush and mosquito nests. The days blend into one another, but each Cadet feels amazingly accomplished standing on the field at graduation day, knowing they have accomplished what less than 10% of our nation ever even considers. A lesson in personal drive and determination, LDAC is an experience which builds MS IIIís into leaders for their fellow Cadets back home. Take with you a solid basis of situational awareness, enthusiasm, and donít forget your toothbrush!