When an international military student, IMS, attends training at Fort Huachuca, the International Military Student Office, IMSO, provides the administrative, logistical and personnel support he or she may need.
Part of the Department of Defense’s Security Assistance Program, every installation which trains international students has an IMSO to provide IMS-based services. On post, the IMSO falls under the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion due to a majority of students taking their courses.
According to Capt. Brian Lenzmeier, IMSO military intelligence chief, the office has seen a continual increase of international students on post over the past few years. Within the last year, 192 international students from 58 countries trained on the installation.
Fort Huachuca offers three different courses an IMS can take. These include the Basic Officer Leader Course, Military Intelligence Captains Career Course and International Officer Tactical Intelligence Course, IOTIC. The IOTIC is a six-week course for international officers only. The other two courses are four to six weeks long. Lenzmeier added that a German and a French student graduated from the Weapons Intelligence Course in July.
Before an IMS attends training, he or she must attain a specific level of English. Students take a test in their home country and at the Fort Huachuca Education Center, upon arrival here. Some students attend a four-month language course through the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, before coming to Fort Huachuca.
IMSO support ranges from basic coordination to in-depth education. The assistance international students receive can be especially helpful since they must live off post and often brings Family members with them while training here.
“IMSO provides many functions from transporting the students to class, handling all financial issues, and ensuring the students have a high-quality of life at Fort Huachuca,” he said.
Capt. Jan Komínek from the Czech Republic explained how every aspect of support the IMSO provides is important to the IMS.
“The IMSO, in the very beginning is the most important part of being here for an international student,” Komínek said.
In addition to military courses, an IMS receives cultural briefings from the office. Lenzmeier explained that half of students have visited this country before, however, they toured cities such as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. The briefings help the IMS understand how Sierra Vista differs from those metropolitan areas.
Lenzmeier said the IMSO also conducts the Field Studies Program to ensure IMSs return to their homeland with an understanding of American government and culture. The program involves Military Intelligence Captains Career Course students in week-long trips to Washington D.C., and shorter ones to the Grand Canyon, Arizona State Capitol and various museums.
Fikretta “Kika” Grant, IMSO Field Studies Program manager, explained that the goal of the program is to teach international officers about American culture, Native American heritage, the United States Government and human rights. She added that these activities show an IMS the real American people and not the images portrayed on TV.
Grant named a number of landmarks, government buildings and museums the IMS groups visit during their time in the nation’s capitol. Some of these destinations include national monuments such as the Lincoln and Washington Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
She said the trips, especially the one to Washington, help international students learn more about U.S. government.
“They get to see more than most Americans get to see,” Grant continued.
Cultural enrichment for the IMS doesn’t stop with IMSO personnel. Fort Huachuca and surrounding communities in Cochise County can become involved with the Community Friends Program. It allows international officers to develop a lasting friendship with a family that may not be related to the military by attending family dinners, trips around Arizona, or any event to convey the American way of life.
“American sponsors learn about different cultures,” Lenzmeier said. “Many of our sponsors maintain the friendship after the IMS graduates and returns to [his or her] home country.”
Anyone with a desire to meet an IMS and learn about a different culture can be a sponsor and can request to be with students from specific countries if there is a preference.
To become a Community Friends Program sponsor, contact 520.533.4133. IMSO will conduct a basic interview before being paired with a student.
IMSO, 304th MI Bn. celebrate new community room
The International Military Student Office, IMSO, in collaboration with the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion celebrated the grand opening of a new community room in Nicholson Hall with a ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 14.
Room 237 was converted into a multi-purpose room for international students training here. The space is furnished with couches, lounge tables and cable television with international channels.
“It’s a break room where they can go in between classes, where they can go sit and read material or even socialize with their military sponsors,” said Fikretta “Kika” Grant, IMSO Field Studies Program manager.
Program manager honored
Grant was also honored during the ribbon cutting ceremony with an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service and certificate for her efforts to save a lost officer while visiting the Grand Canyon — one of many field trips scheduled through the IMSO Field Studies Program.
“All of a sudden, when it was time to come back, this person wasn’t to be found. Immediately, Ms. Grant went into an almost emergency-like protocol to find this officer and she brought the team together and they worked very well [together] to try and find this officer,” said Lt. Col. Candice Frost, 304th MI Bn. commander and ceremony presenter.
Frost also praised Grant for keeping officers safe during the Slide Rock Fire in May. Grant and students toured Slide Rock State Park in Sedona as a wildfire spread.
After the ribbon cutting and award ceremony, attendees explored the new room and enjoyed light refreshments.