Language is power

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In a dynamic world, adapting to and learning about other languages and cultures is key to maintaining military relationships and accomplishing military operations.

Staff Sgt. Deonte' Bell, 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, airborne Russian cryptologic language analyst, ensures aircrews are able to do just that.

Linguists are attached to units in order to communicate, adapt, understand and to assist when needed, thus keeping missions successful. While words have definite meanings according to a dictionary, their use in everyday conversation can have varying implications.

“Understanding the nuances of the language is more than just the words on a paper,” said Bell. “It's more than the words that you hear; it’s the intonations, word choice, the diction. Language is a living thing; [it] progresses faster than the dictionary does.”

Bell is an airborne linguist, but he spends his time on the ground fully dedicated to his other responsibilities of translating and studying to perfect his language.

“On the ground is just simple translation work and more cultural knowledge,” Bell said. “It is also understanding how to help leadership make decisions.”

Bell mentioned on other ground days he really ‘digs down’ for about eight to nine hours learning new words, watching Russian shows, or listening to podcasts.

In the air, Bell uses his understanding of the language to make sure the pilots and other leadership understand what the enemy is doing. He analyzes messages obtained during a flight to provide any threat warnings or actionable intelligence that can assist in mission planning.

“It's really hard to make decisions if you don't understand the language or the culture,” Bell said. “That's where we fit in.”

Bell’s job on the plane is more than just the language and cultural intelligence piece; it is also being a member of the aircrew and overall, just being an Airman.

“When it comes down to business, I feel like we are really elite and professional,” Bell said. “We get it done, and I play a part in that.”

The Language Culture Learning Center has been a great resource to Bell as he has progressed in his skills and attributes. The LCLC has provided Bell with mentorship and a comfortable space to hone his craft.

When Bell experiences an obstacle in his work, he is able to overcome them by focusing on what drives him personally and professionally.

“I’m driven by the journey,” Bell said.

On a personal level, Bell is driven by his dog Nova, a Belgian Malinois. According to Bell, she is a reflection of himself. Nova keeps him honest and consistent.

On a professional level Bell's leadership, his flight crew and the people that surround him also keep him motivated.

“They hold me to a standard I never knew existed,” said Bell. “I’m with a group of people that have my front, my back and my side.”

“SSgt Bell's work ethic is infectious and ignites the desire for success within those he works with,” said Chief Master Sgt. Richard Sanchez, 41st Electronic Combat Squadron senior enlisted leader. “Everywhere from his duties as a linguist to his time during Professional Military Education.”

Bell and his fellow linguists are the premier assets in the Air Force that enable Suppression of Enemy Air defenses and electronic welfare.

The 41st Electronic Combat Squadron is assigned to the 55th Electronic Combat Group at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona as a geographically separated unit from its parent wing, the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.