Improvisation and public speaking might be the warrior of the future’s greatest weapons. Before that, operators must communicate in the native language. To emerge triumphant in an emergency situation is to improvise. To fuel the emotion of others to get things done requires a presence, emotional intelligence, and public speaking. An operator can rally proxy and partner forces to exact our mutual objectives far better than printed money.

We can’t rely on money forever. There is a strong pool of rapport between many special operations units and the SOF communities across the world. However, between our governments – it’s often money that plays the largest role. While understandable, it would be more desirable if we could transcend that transaction and form a real relationship.

The most beautiful part of Special Forces is that we learn a culture, interact with its members in their native tongue and forge strong bonds. Language is the custodian of culture. Language is the medium through which people communicate their feelings, thoughts, and aspirations to one another. Becoming proficient in a language is worth the effort.

My favorite moments abroad are the times I eventually become both comfortable in their company and with my Arabic in the presence of our partner forces. I remember sitting by a fireplace talking and laughing throughout the night in Arabic. I miss those moments as they are unique and singular experiences. It all hinges on the ability to speak the native language.

Culture can mean what people eat to their laws, punishments for crimes, and traditions. Language represents how a group of individuals thinks and communicates. Language is the most important tool we have abroad. A culture without language is unable to pass its culture to the next generation. Culture and language are one in the same. Learning takes language –  it is your primary weapon system to share your experience. Language and culture are all about storytelling and educating. This makes me think about what’s going on with our culture via a tweeting and social media updates.

For Arabic, understanding Modern Standard Arabic is the base and the beginning. Because, the spoken Arabic and its regional counterparts are different too. To get anything done in the region requires a command of the language, and, in turn, compassion and understanding for the culture. Regardless of your personal opinions, you have to adapt and understand your partners.

In Special Forces, you actually can work towards a goal to “free the oppressed,” the SF motto. It’s a blessing to the force that language is an emphasis. It’s the first step towards influencing others in unconventional warfare and can be as powerful as your weapon.

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