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USACAPOC Soldiers immerse themselves in the French language

By By Lt. Col. Jefferson Wolfe, USACAPOC(A) Public Affairs Officer | USACAPOC | July 30, 2019

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Army Reserve Soldiers from United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) enhanced their ability to speak French during the USAID-led and developed Interagency Language Immersion Program.

Students visited 27 venues across southern France and Monaco to increase professional development, individual language skills and cultural awareness of French language students, according to Ned Filipovic, the Language Program Manager for USAID, who also serves as a captain in USACAPOC(A).

In addition to the USACAPOC(A) Soldiers, the class also included members of the active Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Most of the students had a background in French before the class started, said Capt. Ferdinand Zoa, the lead instructor for the class.

“The intent was to enable each of them to increase their French language proficiency not solely with classroom materials but, by putting each of them in situations where that had to utilize the language,” he said.

While used officially in 29 countries, French is spoken in as many as 42 countries, according to information from Filipovic.

The students benefited from being in an environment that pushed them to become immersed in the language, Zoa said.

“As far as USACAPOC, I like to think that the friendships we developed with our brothers and sisters from USAID by working together, sharing experiences and knowledge will make it easier for us to work with each other,” he said. “Most of all, they're capable CA and PSYOP Soldiers within USACAPOC ranks that are able to conduct a key leader engagement in French without the need of an interpreter.”

Students spoke with a number of public officials, including the mayor of Nice, the police department of Nice, the Monegasque foreign minister and many more, he added.

The visit with His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was the highlight of the class, Zoa said.

The event was an “amazing experience” for the students to meet with the prince and introduce themselves, he said.

“Being a great supporter of our Armed Forces, Prince Albert was thrilled to know that our Department of defense has the capacity to support stability operations and international development efforts of its civilian counterparts,” Filipovic said.

Another memorable part of the class was the French Foreign Legion visit, Zoa said.

“I also think that they will remember the French Foreign Legion visit because of the opportunity we had to mingle with legionnaires, converse with them and share a meal with them,” he said.

To date, the language immersion program has trained over 275 Foreign Service Officers and military personnel in a variety of languages, Filipovic said.