Marshall Center English Course Brings Counterterrorism Experts Together
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany --
Learning more about the English language has brought a group of counterterrorism professionals closer together and enhanced their understanding of their mission, Royal Air Force of Oman 1st Lt. Mohammed Murad Kamal Han Murad Al-Balushi said.
Balushi graduated yesterday from the English Language Enhancement Course hosted by the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies here.
"Yes, I improved my English language skills, but I also learned something I did not imagine: how to work as part of a solid network of counterterrorism professionals with varied backgrounds and experiences from different countries," Balushi, a security officer, told his fellow graduates during a ceremony at the Marshall Center.
"My world is now smaller, closer and easier to make contacts and get assistance." he said. "I feel that in these five weeks, I have become a more effective counterterrorism professional."
The Counterterrorism Family
Graduating with Balushi were six other counterterrorism professionals from six nations. Most of these graduates today joined 76 other experts representing nearly 60 countries to attend the Marshall Center's Program on Terrorism and Security Studies. A four-week resident program, PTSS provides advanced professional education to those charged with understanding, and then reducing, the scope and capability of terrorist threats.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Jim Howcroft, PTSS course director, said this resident program supports the Marshall Center's increasing emphasis on transnational threats and challenges.
"You are already members of the PTSS team," said Howcroft, who told the graduates that this family includes more than 1,800 counterterrorism professionals from 126 countries.
The Language of Choice for Fighting Terrorists
Howcroft emphasized that English has increasingly become the language of choice when interacting with the worldwide counterterrorism network.
"This course is an absolutely unique language program, because it combines language skills development with the authentic counterterrorism content," said Peggy Garza, chair of the English Language Program Department for the Marshall Center's Partner Language Training Center Europe.
Partner Language Training Center Europe developed this five-week resident program to increase participants' confidence and ability to communicate in English at a professional level on counterterrorism topics. The learning atmosphere centers on discussions among the participants and counterterrorism presentations by Howcroft and his team.
This course is not to be confused with learning a language class, said Thomas Soule, one of two ELEC instructors. "They all speak English," he said.
"One of the nice things about our course is that while they are learning the necessary vocabulary and terminology together, they are adding their own diverse background and combating terrorism experiences into the mix," Soule said. "They begin to understand, analyze and think critically in English. Not quite as well, obviously, as in their native tongue, but much better than I think they ever thought they would."
In addition to learning terminology, participants also came to understand the terrorist threat in the countries and regions where their classmates are from, while becoming more confident in expressing their viewpoints in English, Soule said.
"Today, English has become the global language to create a multinational platform to fight terrorism around the world," said Colombian army Maj. Yeferson Giovani Guarin Peralta, standardization officer at the Joint Special Forces Command in Bogota.
"Our ability to understand this idea and connect to this platform is the value of this course," he said.