DVIDS – News – LEAP Spotlight: Major Timothy Bettis

“I studied Spanish in high school in part to reconnect with the language and culture of my late grandfather, an Army Air Corps and United States Air Force veteran. that learning Spanish ultimately helped me understand English grammar, but more importantly it helped me develop a mental framework for learning a new language that I immediately applied elsewhere.

“I was really interested in the Arabic language, but growing up in rural Minnesota, formal opportunities to study Arabic were non-existent. Thanks to a World Language Day sponsored by the University of Minnesota, I traveled at their Minneapolis campus alongside other high school students and attended sample Arabic, Chinese, and Ojibwe lessons, which is where I was introduced to Dr. Hisham Khalek, now holder of the ARDI Chair in Arabic Studies at the US Air Force Academy, but later served as a language teacher at several institutions in the Twin Cities.In 2007, I enrolled in my first formal Arabic course with Dr. Khalek at the University of St. Thomas Thanks to him, I was also able to travel to Lebanon in 2008, my very first adventure outside the United States.

“I graduated in 2011 from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota with a degree in International and Middle Eastern Studies. The highlight of my college experience was studying abroad. in the Levant, where I traveled between Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Syria.

“I was appointed to the USAF through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2011 and became an intelligence officer. From 2013 to 2016, I cut my teeth in my first operational units , where I was responsible for supporting the MQ-1 and MQ-9 crew mission sets.

“I discovered LEAP in 2013-2014 during my first operational tour, thanks to my captain at the time, Captain James Lodge, who knew that I would be a shoo-in for the program. I was interested in LEAP because it provided me with a formal opportunity to maintain and sharpen my Arabic language while serving in a high-tempo operational mission that included shift work.

“While Las Vegas was a great city to live in, the opportunities to use my Arabic in the local community did not arise. regional to apply The USAF allowed me to develop a set of skills relevant to the DOD mission that I could use at a later date A professional development program that is inherently proactive in the way it selects and trains Airmen is a breath of fresh air in an institution fueled by a vigorous pursuit of inclusion and diversity.

“This period also coincided with the height of the Arab Spring, which led to significant internal unrest in the region. Operating through CENTCOM, I found myself the only officer in my operations group with academic and practical experience across the Middle East that was not gained behind barbed wire. This propelled me into a position where I became the de facto regional advisor to my Squadron Commander, where I helped add historical and cultural context to his and his boss’s decision-making.

“I have taken eMentor courses for Modern Standard Arabic and various dialects including Levantine and Syrian Arabic. The AFCLC’s ability to be forward-thinking and enable USAF students to adapt their program to anticipate future DOD needs is very important The bottom-up nature of this program allows students to be more nimble in matching their interests and abilities to emerging DOD needs more than a top-down requirements-based bureaucracy could never be.

“In 2016, I was reassigned to 9th Air Force Headquarters as a Command Intelligence Briefer. Shortly thereafter, 9 AF HQ was tagged by the Army Chief of Staff of the air, General Goldfein, to set up the first-ever capable headquarters of a joint task force in the USAF.I, then just a captain, became the de facto intelligence advisor to the 2-star commander for help guide and assemble the intelligence direction of this Joint Task Force. Due to the strict protocols for controlling and sharing intelligence information, I quickly turned this into an opportunity to shape the JTF to be ready for the coalition from day one, establishing an overseas disclosure office, bringing in an exchange officer from the UK and preparing the culture of the headquarters staff to enable a need to share the environment. t internal.

“From 2019 to 2020, I served on the AFCENT Intelligence Directorate staff, helping to plan and shape AFCENT intelligence collection priorities for planned operations as well as contingencies. I was selected to be a foreign area officer in 2019, but wasn’t able to enter the training pipeline until a year later. I convinced the AFCLC to let me take a Space-A French course under the logic that the French-speaking world strongly overlaps the Arabic-speaking world. I had the time and the opportunity, and the DOD had the operational need.

“Our AORs are not monolingual and the Middle East is located at the intersection of three major continents. Cultural and linguistic adaptability is an operational necessity for FAO. Therefore, flexibility in LEAP programs is both a tactical necessity and a manifestation of a bureaucracy tasked with cultivating a posture of strength capable of operating across regions. This flexibility within Air Education and Training Command that allows individual Airmen to tailor their education appropriately is also more effective in providing a force capable of responding to the President’s charge to revitalize the unparalleled network of alliances and of America’s partnerships.

“Through my LEAP training, I also had the opportunity to mentor some junior Embassy staff on the history and culture of the Arabian Gulf to better assist them in overcoming some of the cultural barriers that they were meeting.

“More strategically, during my time in Bahrain, I was able to help bolster the U.S. Embassy team by supporting the U.S. delegation to the Manama Dialogue 2021, the region’s largest annual security conference. I was assigned to the team that led the planning for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his engagement in the dialogue itself and his bilateral meetings with officials from Iraq, Indonesia, Kenya and from Bahrain.

“This experience in Bahrain was my first real opportunity to engage with a foreign partner in a language other than English; Bahrain is a major non-NATO ally, which makes this bilateral relationship all the more critical. While Bahrain is culturally diverse due to the nature of the economy’s dependence on foreign workers, and much of the country speaks some degree of English, the ability of women and men Arabic-speaking American servicemen immediately establish relationships with Bahraini officials and defense forces. . Respecting, studying, and engaging with a partner country’s language, history, and culture immediately dispels any negative notions of American hubris and helps engender a sense of mutual respect in our bilateral and multilateral relationships.

“While I was just a pinch hitter on a team full of star players, it was exciting to be a fly on the wall to watch the execution of international affairs and diplomacy first hand.”

–LEAP Scholar in Modern Standard Arabic and FAO Major Timothy Bettis

Date taken: 14.01.2022
Date posted: 19.01.2022 13:50
Story ID: 413087

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