CAMP LEJEUNE, NC – Respect for others is a common virtue that goes a long way toward building and maintaining relationships no matter where you go in the world. For service members defending the nation overseas, the respect and relationships they build with the citizens in the country where they operate is integral to their ultimate success in the region. Efforts to build relationships begin with communication and a company with 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command is learning those valuable skills in preparation for their eventual deployment to Afghanistan.
The Marine Special Operations Company (MSOC) has begun classes in Dari and Afghan culture which will continue until they deploy. The four-hour-long classes are taught from week to week throughout their pre-deployment training schedule and are divided into three hours of language and one hour of culture.
“These classes are important for them,” said Muhammad Naeem Ayoubzaada, one of the Dari language instructors for the MSOC. “The Marines and Sailors should be comfortable and not feel culture shock when they get over there”
Ayoubzaada is a native of Afghanistan who now lives in the United States. He has deployed to Afghanistan with Marines in the past as an interpreter. He not only brings the knowledge of the language and culture, but also a highly-valuable strategic knowledge as well.
Within the MSOC, there is a wide range of skill sets. And while everybody will learn the skills to survive and communicate on a basic level, some Marines and Sailors are attending more advanced classes that encompass more material. A select few within the MSOC will detach from the day to day operation and learn Dari well enough to act as interpreters.
“The Marines can solve problems more quickly with this training and maybe save more lives over there,” said Ayoubzaada. “Most of the students are very interested, which makes me really happy to see.”
Ayoubzaada is able to tailor the curriculum of the course he teaches to what he knows the Marines and Sailors will need to know when they meet with tribal leaders, town councils and villagers to build better relationships. He also gives advice on how to conduct searches and gather intelligence without offending the local sensibilities.
“Probably the most important thing we have learned so far is how to greet people and how to respect Afghan leaders,” Ayoubzaada explains. “First impressions are very important to Afghans.”
Both the MSOC and Ayoubzaada know the training’s importance goes beyond the ability to communicate with the Afghan people. They know the skills learned in the classes, when used in country, can have a significant impact on the success of their missions and the safety of their fellow service members and the civilian populace. Building mutual respect and lasting relationships can help save lives.
“I really want them to know the culture and language well and to remember one important principle above all, ‘respect to be respected.’”