Peru CULP Mission by Cadet Bianchi
This past summer, I had the opportunity of attending the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program (CULP). This is a selective program that allows cadets to experience foreign cultures and train alongside the host nation’s military. Upon selection, the cadet is assigned a country and then a mission. My mission was in Lima, Peru. The training consisted of a 2 week training period with the Peruvian military and 1 week of cultural immersion.
A typical day consisted of waking up at around 0445 to be ready for PT at 0600. This was something that personally impacted me a lot. While US cadets were up almost immediately and ready within minutes the Peruvian cadets took longer and had to have an officer be yelling at them constantly. Once we were all ready we would double-time with the Peruvians to the PT location where we would conduct their version of PRTs and do PT with them. After PT we would return to shower and get ready for Chow at 0730. Their meals consisted of: bread and butter for breakfast, chicken and rice or beef and rice for lunch (every meal) and something light such as a soup or pasta for dinner. After chow we would march singing Peruvian cadences to the next training site.
Each day we would partake in a section of training that every Peruvian cadet must complete to commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. Every Peruvian cadet must go through Airborne School, Mountain Warfare school, Jungle School and Combat Dive School. We had the opportunity of training in some of them. At the Peruvian Combat Dive School we learned about their swimming techniques and completed their version of our CWST. Their CWST consisted doing a ‘confidence jump’ off of a pier and swimming 100 meters back to shore in the winter waters of Miraflores, Peru. At their Airborne School we were taught to do their version of the PLF (proper landing form) and jump out of their 34 foot towers while maintaining proper form. We also received medical training from the Peruvian Special Forces and witnessed an extraction training operation. Some other Peruvian schools we trained at were: their sniper school, cavalry school, engineer school and artillery school. We also went to their range and familiarized ourselves with the GALIL and learned about their shooting techniques.
During our language/cultural immersion portion of our training we visited multiple museums where we learned about their Mesoamerican civilizations and Peru’s troubled political/military past. Due to the fact that I am fluent in Spanish, I was appointed to be the translator. Being the translator of this mission taught me how different each country’s culture can be. Even though I already know the language, there were multiple words or expressions I simply was unable to translate because there was no direct translation to English. We also had the opportunity to receive a brief from the Foreign Area Officer where he explained the duties and responsibilities he had as the FAO of Peru.
During some of our ‘less busy days’ we visited small towns and went to their little markets to buy souvenirs and interact with the local population. Another thing that really left an impression on me was how patriotic the Peruvians are on their Independence Day. Almost every house, no matter what social class, had a Peruvian flag hanging from it. Nearly the whole city of Peru attended the military parade where they all cheered and sang their National anthem with pride. Among the many tours and events we attended we were also able to do: white water rafting, paragliding, zip lining, sandboarding and ride dune buggies.
CULP is a life experience I will never forget. I strongly recommend any cadet reading this to apply. Not only is CULP one of the Cadet Summer Training programs that provides the most OML points; it also allows you to learn how to work with and be more understanding of foreign military cultures.