AFIMSC officer supports global interrogation training exercise

  • Published
  • By Sarah McNair
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs
An Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Airman recently participated in a detention and interrogation exercise for 10 days at Drawsko Combat Training Center, Poland, to support a special training opportunity with allied countries.
Capt. Lyudmila Mueller, executive officer for AFIMSC’s Financial Management directorate, volunteered for the Guardian Sphinx 24 exercise as a member of the Department of Defense’s Language Enabled Airmen Program.
LEAP provides a pool of more than 3,400 Airmen with language, cultural and regional expertise, who are ready to assist the Department of Defense and other government agencies with interpretation and translation support.
“In 2013, while I was stationed at the New Kabul Compound in Afghanistan, a fellow Airman introduced me to the Language Enabled Airman Program,” Mueller said. “He mentioned it just three days before the application deadline.”
The career-long program develops expert linguists and provides them with continued education to stay proficient. Upon hearing about the program, Mueller rushed to get her application in and was accepted, allowing her to stay skilled in her native Russian language and support language-related exercises and missions across the DoD.
The Guardian Sphinx 24 exercise was her second deployment under the program but was very different from her first. Led by the 525th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, 23 U.S. military teams and nine NATO allies came together and replicated a real-life experience for foreign interrogation training purposes at a theater-level facility.
“Our location featured only the most basic amenities, with dining and meetings held in tented areas," Mueller said. “Accommodations varied. Some personnel were allocated hard-cover tents designed for double occupancy, while others were housed in open-bay tents. The first week of the deployment was extremely cold, with icy conditions that complicated travel. However, a rise in temperatures transformed the surroundings into a challenging muddy environment the following week.”
Thirteen LEAP volunteers, who were supporting the operation, were assigned their role – either as a foreign detainee or as an interpreter. Capt. Mueller was given the role of a Russian speaking marksmen inmate and provided some material on the questioning topic.
“We strictly spoke the Russian language for the exercise,” Mueller said. “Military police, medical staff and interrogators relied solely on interpreters to translate. We collaborated closely with the Army and NATO gaining insights into their detention and interrogation processes. It was an enriching experience.”
Capt. Mueller received a coin from the Great Britain Defense Humint Unit for her excellent participation and engagement in the exercise.
“I had to rely on my military training from prior deployments to respond appropriately to questions,” she explained. “Based on my assigned inmate profile, one of the interrogators challenged me to push-ups and was impressed when I fulfilled the challenge without hesitation to remain in character.”
LEAP is helping to develop cross-culture competency to support global mission requirements and strengthen foreign partnerships and interoperability. Many military exercises foster unification with allies and partners in support of the U.S. National Defense Strategy. The Department of the Air Force is working to strengthen international relationships to build shared air and space capabilities.
“None of this can happen if we don’t understand each other,” Mueller said. “It is a mission-critical necessity for AFIMSC and the DoD to have different language capabilities to overcome language barrier obstacles.”