U.S. Army and Marine Corps Employ Alelo Tactical Pashto Language and Culture Course

Alelo released the Tactical Pashto Language & Culture Training System to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

The course teaches how to communicate with cultural sensitivity in the rural Pashtun regions of Afghanistan's southeast.

There is no standard Pashto language as there are several local dialects. Pashtuns from different areas often disagree about what constitutes "proper" Pashto.

Rural Pashtun villages tend to follow traditional cultural practices, and foreigners need to be familiar with them to avoid inadvertently giving offense. People in urban areas such as Kabul or Kandahar are typically more familiar with Western ways.

Pashto is second to Dari, the Persian dialect of Afghanistan's north and west. Because of the political power of the Pashtuns, Pashto is often required in Dari schools, and as an official language is one of the government's languages. However, in practice Dari is the language of business and higher education, and so Pashtuns often learn Dari.

The Tactical Pashto course is one of the three Tactical Language & Culture Training Systems used by the US Military. The other two courses teach the language and culture of Iraq and Sahel Africa.

Trainees learn while playing PC-based, immersive, interactive, 3-D videogames that simulate social communications involving spoken dialogues and cultural protocols. Lessons focus on skills relevant to common, everyday situations and tasks. Cultural awareness covers non-verbal gestures and norms of politeness and etiquette that are most critical to communicate.

The games have no shooting; trainees advance by correctly speaking to and behaving with the computer-generated animated characters. If the characters trust the trainee, they cooperate and provide the answers needed to advance. Otherwise, they become uncooperative and prevent the trainee from reaching the end and winning.

The courses are games that combine patent-pending technologies such as artificial-intelligence-based social and psychological simulations; Social Puppets Animations that guide the unscripted, autonomous, culturally appropriate behavior of the animated characters; and speaker-independent speech recognition models for non-native speakers.

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