Pentagon to up pay for language skills

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Apr 10 17:46:32 UTC 2005

>>From the European Stars & Stripes

  Sunday, April 10, 2005

  Pentagon to up pay for language skills
  Top monthly stipend for high-demand languages would be $1,000

  By Jon R. Anderson, Stars and Stripes
  Pacific edition, Sunday, April 10, 2005

     ARLINGTON, Va.  Pentagon officials are planning to more than
quadruple the cap in foreign language proficiency pay, according to the
Pentagons chief of personnel policy.  The monthly stipend will go from a
maximum of $300 per month for both officers and enlisted servicemembers
skilled in high-demand languages to a maximum of $1,000 per month, said
Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David Chu.

  I dont want to start rumors were not going to offer it to everybody,
said Chu. It will be in areas of need against standards that have yet to
be proscribed.  The move is part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the
Pentagons language capabilities. The Language Transformation Roadmap,
includes more than doubling the DODs language training budget and perhaps
that all new officers must possess some skill in a second language.
  Chu broke his road map down into four major highways:

      Better foundation. Field leaders are saying there is increasing need
more people with ability in the what officials are calling investment
languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and Pashtu.

	On-demand Linguists. The Pentagon wants to be able to respond to urgent
demands quickly, demands we cannot possibility foresee, said Chu.

      Higher proficiency. Officials want a bigger cadre of more fluent
linguists. Most of the militarys linguists are only able to translate
simple documents and conversations. What we recognized with the war on
terror, said Chu, is that for at least some of our linguists, thats not
good enough.

      Career management. Chu said the services have to do a better job of
improving career progression for both enlisted linguists and foreign area
officers. With second languages usually a very perishable skill, leaders
have long struggled with balancing language upkeep with more traditional

  This year, the Pentagon increased the Defense Language Institutes budget
from $103 million to $153 million.  That money is focused on hiring new
faculty at the Monterey, Calif., school as well increasing the number of
students trained there each year, said Gail McGinn, who heads of the
Pentagons language efforts.  Officials also hope to expand on an Army
experiment to recruit heritage speakers into the military. Dubbed the
Translator Aide Program, the Army has so far brought in 200 U.S.
immigrants mostly Iraqis into the Armys Individual Ready Reserve under an
agreement for immediate mobilization into the Middle East. To date, 77
have made it through the initial training and deployed.

  Perhaps the most controversial of the proposed changes is a new standard
for officers requiring some level of proficiency in a high-demand
investment language.  We havent decided to do it quite yet, although youd
have to be pretty thick-headed not to see this as the likely outcome. The
question is how? said Chu.  To answer that question, the individual
services have been tasked with working up specific proposals. But Chu
already has some ideas of his own.

  One easy way is to say to our military academies and ROTC programs is
that a condition of commissioning will be X, said Chu. Were not
necessarily proposing that every officer should be bilingual. This is not
Canada, where that is a requirement in the armed forces. But we are trying
to raise the starting point.

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