US: Official Responds to Congressional Findings on Military Linguistics

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Dec 13 01:45:57 UTC 2008

I just googled it and found this:
Looks pretty explicit!
On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 6:15 PM,  <interpreterman at> wrote:> Does anybody have a link to this Defense Language Transformation Roadmap, by> any chance?> Dan V.> Taipei, Taiwan>> a language plan launched four years> ago. Known as the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap, the broad> strategy aims to address national shortfalls in foreign language> skills in the United States.>>> -----Original Message-----> From: Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at>> To: lp <lgpolicy-list at>> Sent: Fri, 12 Dec 2008 10:28 am> Subject: US: Official Responds to Congressional Findings on Military> Linguistics>> Official Responds to Congressional Findings on Military Linguistics> By John J. Kruzel> American Forces Press Service>> Dec. 11, 2008 - A congressional assessment of how the Pentagon is> implementing its language strategy reflects the Defense Department's> progress and shortfalls, a Pentagon official said yesterday. "I think> the House Armed Services Committee report!
  accurately reflects the> progress that we've made," said Gail McGinn, deputy undersecretary of> defense for plans. "It also talked about some of the things that we> haven't quite accomplished yet, which we knew.">> The report, released last month, acknowledges that the department and> the services are takin> g additional action to complement the 90-percent> completed tasks it outlined in a language plan launched four years> ago. Known as the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap, the broad> strategy aims to address national shortfalls in foreign language> skills in the United States.>> But one of the report's findings is that "inconsistencies" exist in> the way the department and the services are approaching language> transformation.>> The report recommends that the dpartment should clarify its policy> characterizing foreign language, regional expertise, and cultural> awareness as critical or core competencies essential to its missions> as a way to establish greater cons!
 istency.>> McGinn said the services' leaders understand the importance
 of foreign> languages, but that the demands of language training – an Arabic> course lasts 63 weeks, for example – places difficulty on a force with> finite manning.>> "When you talk about wanting to get more language capability in your> officer corps, it's hard to conceive of that in an officer's career,"> she said in an interview at the Pentagon yesterday.>> To mitigate this, the department has begun focusing on pre-accession> education, meaning academics undertaken before becoming a military> servicemember, she said. The idea is that troops would enter the force> having completed previous language training.>> As part of this transformation, all three service academies now> feature more robust strategic language and cultural program offerings.> As=2> 0a result, more cadets and midshipmen are studying languages of> strategic importance. ROTC programs also reap the benefits, with> students enjoying a wider array of destinations for study abroad.> Beyond pure language kn!
 ow-how, McGinn said, the military hopes to> instill cultural and regional expertise in servicemembers, which often> require less labor-intensive instruction and time than language> training.>> "There's an issue of striking the right balance: we need cultural> understanding, we need regional expertise and we need foreign> language," she said. "We need to figure out how to fit all of that> into the force, and that is still a work in progress.">> To ensure that the language transformation occurs smoothly and> successfully, the department has appointed senior language authorities> in each of the military services and agencies to conduct oversight,> execution and planning. McGinn said she meets regularly with these> representatives to best determine how to steer policy.>> "We want them to know what is needed, what capability already exists,> and they also help me formulate policies and programs," she said of> senior language authorities.>> Anther measure of transformational prog!
 ress is the department's> establishment of centers of excellence in ea
ch military service to> oversee and standardize training and impart essential and> mission-targeted cultural training.>> Pentagon officials also increased the Defense Language Institute> Foreign Language Center's funding from a fiscal 2001 budget of $> 77> million to $270 million this fiscal year. DLIFLC, located in Monterey,> Calif., is the department's premiere language and cultural training> center.>> McGinn said the overall goals are three-fold: more foundational and> strategic language expertise in the force, the ability to obtain> expertise in a language if needed at short notice, and to develop a> cadre of linguists with higher-level language skills.>> The upshot of foreign language and cultural expertise is that it helps> U.S. servicemembers communicate, negotiate and set goals with foreign> partners. It also helps troops avoid pitfalls that often surround> language barriers.>> In American military lingo, for example, the term "field of fire"> refers to area in which!
  a person can be engaged by weaponry. "Someone> in another culture might see that as a burning wheat field," McGinn> pointed out. "And that's not what you mean at all when you said those> words.">> The maxim "know a language and understand what someone says, but know> a culture and understand what someone means" rings true in this> example. Unfortunately, U.S. education does not greatly emphasize the> study of foreign language and culture, the report notes.>> "One problem pointed out in the report is that the American> educational system really isn't where we would hope it would be in> terms of producing high school grads with foreign language ability,"> McGinn said. "We are not robust in strategic languages like Arabic and> Chinese.">> As the commi> ttee report states, "The military's lack of language> skills and cultural expertise is a symptom of the larger problem> facing the nation as a whole.">>!
 onal.html>> --> **************************************> N.b.: Listing 
on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to> its members> and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner> or sponsor of> the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who> disagree with a> message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)> *******************************************>> ________________________________> Listen to 350+ music, sports, & news radio stations – including songs for> the holidays – FREE while you browse. Start Listening Now!

-- =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
 Harold F. Schiffman
Professor Emeritus of Dravidian Linguistics and CultureDept. of South Asia StudiesUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA 19104-6305
Phone:  (215) 898-7475Fax:  (215) 573-2138
Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list