ISU Army ROTC officers leading cadet cultural awareness programs in Croatia, Bulgaria

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Cyclone Battalion ROTC students Shaylea Foster, Ben Brixius and Dani Hadaway in Bulgaria.

AMES, Iowa – Two members of the Iowa State University’s Army ROTC battalion are leading cultural awareness programs in Europe this summer.

Lt. Col. Richard Smith, commander of ISU’s Cyclone battalion, will be the mission commander for the program in Croatia in July. Maj. Kevin White, battalion executive officer, is mission commander for five cadet teams in Bulgaria throughout the summer.

Each officer is leading U.S. cadets and military personnel in the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program. CULP is the Army Cadet Command’s immersion process for ROTC students to better understand the culture of a different part of the world, Smith said.

Smith will command 31 ROTC cadets – including five from the Cyclone Battalion – and three active military personnel for three weeks in Croatia.

"They will learn how to adapt and operate in new surroundings," Smith said. “We want the cadets to experience a different culture now so they are better prepared to operate in foreign countries as commissioned officers in the future.”

Smith has been working with the U.S. Embassy and the Croatian military to set up field training and cultural instruction. The American cadets will spend two weeks working on weapons qualification and combat tactics with Croatian cadets. In 2013 the cadets spent only one week training together.

“The extra week will really allow the cadets from both countries more time to get to know one another and spend more time training together,” Smith said. “Unique to this year is that we will have U.S. Army cadets train with Croatian Army cadets and also with the country’s Navy and Air Force cadets.”

White is responsible for five teams, each with 10 to 12 cadets. Each group has a cadre leader from the Tennessee National Guard since Tennessee and Bulgaria are partners in the National Guard’s State Partnership for Peace program. (Iowa has a partnership with Kosovo.) The U.S. cadets are working with Bulgarian troops and cadets on English language instruction and also in various types of military training. Six of the cadets are members of the Cyclone Battalion.

“The Bulgarian Leadership is extremely excited to have the U.S. cadets in country to assist with English training,” White said. “With Bulgaria being a relatively new member of NATO, the Bulgarian Armed Forces are rapidly learning English and welcome the chance to converse with native speakers. They believe that it is important because understanding English is an important part of any NATO operation.”

The Army Cadet Command’s CULP program is sending more than 1,000 ROTC cadets from throughout the U.S. to about 40 nations this summer. Each program is tailored to the specific requests of the host nation and time also is allotted for the American cadets to learn about the history and culture of their host countries.

Cadets are chosen for the competitive program based on grade-point average, physical fitness, an essay and other criteria.

“It’s invaluable for our cadets to get this type of experience,” Smith said.

ISU’s ROTC battalions are academic units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. -30-

About Liberal Arts and Sciences The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in Iowa and around the world.

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Contacts: Richard Smith, Military Science, Steve Jones, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, (515) 294-0461,