JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Defense Language Institute English Language Center, or DLIELC, is a critical training center for members of the United States military and plays a significant role in advancing the U.S. Army’s number one priority – recruiting.
“The unique capability the U.S. Army Element provides to the Army’s recruiting efforts should be understood throughout the Army’s Recruiting Command and beyond,” said MAJ George Gurrola, U.S. Army Element Executive Officer and Director of Operations, 637th Training Resource Squadron. “Most members in the U.S. Army are familiar with the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center located in Monterrey, Calif., but are less familiar with the English language counterpart in San Antonio.”
The USAE at DLIELC, also known as Echo Company, helps with recruitment by providing Soldiers, whose English is a second language, the skills necessary for success in their Initial Entry Training courses and throughout their military service. In addition to English language proficiency, the USAE also trains Soldiers in cultural awareness and leadership skills.
“In essence, USAE is at the heart of the Army’s Foreign Language Recruiting Initiative which enables new recruits to enlist and receive critical English language training,” added Gurrola. “The ability to speak the English language is critical for service in the Army and building trust in organization.”
“Soldiers who are proficient in the English language are also better equipped to understand Army-specific customs and norms,” he added. “Understanding can be the difference between mission success and failure.”
The center offers several courses to improve English proficiency including basic, intermediate, and advanced courses. However, most Army trainees are enrolled in basic English courses.
USAE in partnership with U.S. Army Recruiting Command, also executes the Basic Skills and Enhancement Program -- a three-week course that helps Army trainees develop and enhance the skills necessary to score higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. The ASVAB is the test required to determine eligibility for military service.
In 2022, the USAE’s BSEP course had a 99% ASVAB pass rate.
Gurrola stated the success is directly attributed to the DLIELC leadership’s support to fostering an ideal learning environment, critical resources such as new ASVAB books and other training material being provided and the instructors’ individualized approach.
Trainees can also partake in leadership opportunities such as platoon sergeant, squad leader, or bay leader. These leadership experiences develop the trainees’ English language proficiency, communication, and decision-making skills.
According to Gurrola, these skills can contribute to their development as future leaders in the Army, evidenced by the current 32d Medical Brigade Command Sergeant Major, CSM Gilberto Colon, who is a DLIELC alumni.
U.S. Army trainees and International Military Students from across the globe learn together in the same classroom which contributes to fulfilling cultural awareness and immersion mission objectives.
“Learning English alongside international partners helps them understand and appreciate the cultures of different countries,” Gurrola said. “These Soldiers then leave DLIELC with a unique understanding of key partners while developing their knowledge of the English language.”
DLIELC’s commandant is an Air Force colonel, and the deputy commandant is an Army lieutenant colonel who is dual hatted as the USAE commander. The USAE is operationally controlled by DLIELC but is administratively controlled by U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command’s Center for Initial Military Training and the 32d Medical Brigade.
As the U.S. non-native English speaking population continues to grow, it is pertinent that Army recruiting stations throughout the country become more aware of the USAE’s efforts as well as the Foreign Language Recruiting Initiative. Gurrola encourages USAREC leadership to visit DLIELC and USAE to gain awareness of the journey that foreign language applicants experience as students on campus.
DLIELC is the largest English language training program in the Department of Defense and traces its formal beginning to May 1954, when the 3746th Pre-Flight Training Squadron was activated and assumed responsibility for all English language training.
DLIELC’s mission is to provide worldwide English language training and resident cultural immersion to enable pre-basic combat training trainees in the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, and international military partners to communicate in support of Department of Defense and Security Cooperation objectives.