NAHA, Okinawa, Japan - Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members and U.S. Marines and sailors teach one another English and Japanese languages during a cultural exchange event March 7 at Camp Naha. Mandatory cultural and language training is being expanded to Marine Forces Reserve beginning in May, and will be required for Marines to get promoted. (Lance Cpl. Anne K. Henry / Marine Corps)
Mandatory cultural and language training is being expanded to Marine Forces Reserve beginning in May, and will be required for Marines to get promoted.
The Regional, Culture and Language Familiarization program, which assigns Marines to one of 17 areas around the world, has been in effect for active-duty enlisted Marines since October.
“The mission of the RCLF program is to ensure that Marine units are globally prepared and effective at navigating and influencing culturally complex 21st century operating environments in support of Marine Corps missions and requirements,” according to Marine administrative message 196/13, signed April 9.
Courses will be available online as distance education, and completion helps reservists earn one point toward retirement for every three hours of course work.
Enlisted reservists — sergeant and above — will begin receiving their regional assignments on May 1. The requirements include:
Private and private first class: 1 hour of cultural instruction at boot camp.
Lance corporal and corporal: 2½ hours of cultural instruction in the Corporals Course.
Sergeant: 12 to 16 hours, an introduction to regional operational culture.
Staff sergeant: 12 to 16 hours, application of operational culture principles in a tactical environment.
Gunnery sergeant: 12 to 16 hours, analysis/support of decision-making using operational culture principles.
Master sergeant, first sergeant, master gunnery sergeant: 12 to 16 hours, strategic evaluation and decision-making using operational culture principles.
Enlisted Marines also will have 80 hours of language instruction to complete during the ranks of sergeant and staff sergeant, which they must finish to be considered PME-complete and eligible for promotion to gunnery sergeant.
Commissioned and warrant officers receive their assignments while attending The Basic School, aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. New lieutenants have received a regional designation since 2008 and warrant officers since 2010.
An effort is made to assign Marines to a region that matches any prior knowledge or specialization they have.
Active-duty Marines who are assigned a region and then transfer to the Reserve retain their regional designation, although Marines can apply for a reassignment, depending on the Corps' needs.