Marshall Center’s Language Course Makes the World ‘Smaller, Closer, Easier’ for Counterterrorism Experts
By Christine June
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (July 6, 2017) – Oman Air Force 1st Lt. Mohammed Murad Kamal Han Murad Al-Balushi’s world just became “smaller, closer and easier” by graduating from the English Language Enhancement Course (ELEC) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies July 5.
“I improved my English language skills, and learned words and terminology used in countering terrorism, but I also learned something I did not imagine – how to work as part of a solid network of counterterrorism professionals with varied backgrounds and experiences from different countries,” said Al-Balushi, a security officer with the Royal Air Force of Oman, addressing his fellow graduates and Marshall Center staff and faculty during the ceremony.
“My world is now smaller, closer and easier to make contacts and get assistance.” he said. “I feel that in these five weeks, I have become a more effective counterterrorism professional.”
The PTSS Family
Graduating with Al-Balushi were six other counterterrorism professionals from six nations. Most of these graduates joined 76 other experts from more than 50 countries in the Marshall Center’s Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (PTSS) July 6.
A four-week resident program, PTSS provides advanced professional education to those charged with understanding and then, reducing the scope and capability of terrorism threats.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Professor Jim Howcroft, PTSS course director, said this resident program supports the Marshall Center’s increasing emphasis on transnational threats and challenges.
“You are already members of the PTSS team,” said Howcroft, who let the graduates know that this family includes more than 1,800 counterterrorism professionals from 126 countries.
The Language of Choice for Fighting Terrorists
He added that professional English language skills are not only critical in PTSS where discussions and getting your point of view across is a mainstay, but also English has increasingly become the language of choice when interacting with the worldwide counterterrorism network.
“This (ELEC) is an absolutely unique language program because it combines language skills development with the authentic PTSS content,” said Peggy Garza, chair of the English Language-Program Department for the Marshall Center’s Partner Language Training Center Europe (PLTCE).
She added that PLTCE developed this five-week resident program to increase participants’ confidence and ability to communicate in English at a professional level on security topics.
During these past five weeks, participants became familiar with the terminology used in counterterrorism and understanding the threat not only in their countries, but also where their classmates were from, and all the while, becoming more confident in expressing their viewpoints in English. Garza said the learning atmosphere of ELEC centers on classroom discussions and counterterrorism presentations by Howcroft and his team.
“Today, the English has become the global language to create a multi-national platform to fight terrorism around the world,” said Columbian army Maj. Yeferson Giovani Guarin Peralta, standardization officer at the Joint Special Forces Command in Bogota. “Our ability to understand this idea and connect to this platform is the value of this course.”