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Bridging Cultures and Communication: Teaching the Lebanese Armed Forces in Beirut, Lebanon

By: Captain Jennie MacCosham


Vast mountains dotted with cedar trees and snow; mouthwatering cuisine; staggering ruins bordering ancient castles; and some of the warmest people I have ever met. My first deployment in Beirut, Lebanon as a Public Affairs Officer has been very memorable. I was part of an eclectic team of four CAF members all from different parts of Canada.  


From the moment we stepped into the classroom at the Staff College in Lebanon, we were met by a group of creative, thoughtful, and engaged students who were truly open to learning from us. The learning, of course, was reciprocal. As a team, we worked diligently to familiarize ourselves with the culture and history of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and to understand the structure and complexity of their military. From this standpoint, we were able to tailor our teaching to deliver our presentations in a way that showed our students we were coming from a place of trying to understand and connect with their way of life, and the current issues percolating inside of their nation.      


We navigated the intricacies of effective communication, utilizing interactive communication exercises; asking thought-provoking questions; conducting interviews using real-life scenarios peppered with challenging questions that required each student to think critically and reference their training and work experiences. Laughter often filled the room as we shared anecdotes and cultural insights, fostering an environment that allowed for an enjoyable learning experience.


Here's what we accomplished:


-We augmented the LAF’s communication capabilities through four impactful courses.

-Training opened with a Public Affairs workshop, followed by the Unit Public Affairs Representative Course.

-We equipped select members from the LAF to become effective representatives in the field of communications within their respective military units.

-Our Imagery Technician delivered photography training with creative practical exercises to better equip LAF photographers to represent their military.

-We taught the Advanced Designated Spokesperson Training Course, which helped train and prepare high-ranking military members for a myriad of media interviews.


Lebanon's vibrant culture infused our teaching days with a unique energy. During breaks, we indulged in conversations about Lebanon's multifaceted history; the country’s natural wonders; and the humour and wit expressed by the Lebanese people we met despite the hardships their country continues to experience. The students' passion and love for Lebanon was evident as they shared stories of their unwavering commitment to serving in the military. These interactions added depth to our training, allowing for a deeper appreciation of the LAF and a clear understanding of how much they value relationships.


Another serial of this teaching program is scheduled this fall. I would strongly recommend this experience to any Public Affairs Officer and Imagery Technician who is open to strengthening their skills as a teacher and a leader in a country that is incredibly diverse, steeped in fascinating history. Please share your interest through your chain of command to be considered for this opportunity.

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