Austin Mike – Staff Writer
Throughout the course of the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) mission, I have gained a significant amount of knowledge on Montenegro, its people and their way of life.
Located in Southeastern Europe, I was able to see how Montenegro differs in comparison to the United States. By having the privilege to experience another culture, this will greatly benefit my training, learning, and growing as a future officer in the U.S. Army.
Learning and accepting differences in cultures and beliefs teaches a good officer to become strong by displaying tolerance for all citizens, soldiers and fellow officers.
Perhaps the biggest difference between its cultures was its emphasis on the treatment of labor and relaxation. The U.S. tends to focus on the productivity and outcomes from labor, and can sometimes lose sight of the people performing tasks. Seeing how the Montenegrins’ army places a higher emphasis on not rushing and taking time to complete a task has made me value other cultures even more.
I have also realized that a society can function even if it is not the same as my own society. As a future officer and leader, this experience and knowledge will make it easier when being deployed, utilizing local/foreign armies and resources by building a more personable relationship with the armies and not allowing ignorance or biases cloud my judgment and leadership.
Additionally, Montenegro takes an alternate approach when completing a mission that is not as bound by a specific time line. Having a general approach to a time line seems to allow for the mishaps that happen, naturally affecting even the most well thought out plan.
Witnessing this firsthand, I believe this gives me an edge as a future officer in knowing the pros and cons of each style. I will be able to incorporate my soldiers’ well-being into decision making and planning of a mission in order for the best outcome. It is always important to have your soldiers strong and alert so they can be confident when completing the mission.
All in all, this CULP mission has taught me more than my previous ROTC experiences; it has taught me about another culture, how other armies function and most importantly, acceptance and tolerance of all people different than myself and my teammates.
Numerous officers perform adequately, complete missions successfully and do what needs to be done, but few possess the knowledge and appreciation of other cultures, which can and will be crucial in times of deployment and missions.
Opportunities such as the various CULP missions should continue to be offered to ROTC students across the U.S., because the knowledge obtained from the culture of your assigned country is priceless and will help ROTC students become the great officers that they train so vigorously to be.
I, along with my other CULP teammates, can now excel and maintain the U.S. Army’s reputation of being the most advanced and disciplined army in the world.