Fighting in any clime or place means Marines often come into close contact with people of all nationalities and cultures. An intimate understanding of those cultures can make the difference between mission success and mission failure. That's why the Marine Corps is now rolling out mandatory cultural training that will assign most Marine a specific region of specialization that they will study for the duration of their career.
The program, which will include reservists, will begin in late August with first and second lieutenants, but eventually be expanded to all enlisted Marines ranked sergeant and above, and all officers up to colonel.
The Regional, Culture, and Language Familiarization Program was created by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational and Cultural Learning at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. Eventually, officers and enlisted Marines will be assigned to one of 17 global regions of study, which they will focus on for the duration of their careers, according to Marine Administrative Message 468/10.
When assigning regions, a Marine's history will be taken into account. That includes prior education, native culture or birthplace. The number of available slots for each region will be determined by three variables: requests from combatant commanders, requests from unit commanders and Corps threat assessments. More Marines will be assigned to volatile regions, as it is where they are most likely to deploy.
The 17 global regions in the program are Central Africa, Eastern Africa, North Africa, Sahel, Southern Africa, West Africa, West South Africa, Central Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Arabian Gulf, Levant, Balkans, Central America/Caribbean, South America and the Transcaucuses.