US: Defense to Begin Recruiting Foreign Language Corps

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jan 17 20:09:01 UTC 2008

Government Executive January 15, 2008
Defense to Begin Recruiting Foreign Language Corps By Brittany R.

DOD is assembling a corps of people fluent in critical foreign
languages to serve the nation during times of emergency or
international need.

By 2010, the department will recruit at least 1,000 people to serve in
the new National Language Service Corps, said Gail McGinn, deputy
undersecretary of Defense for plans and head of the Defense Senior
Language Authority. Congress gave Defense the authority to start a
pilot project to create the corps in the FY07 Defense authorization

While the pilot launched last year, the department has not yet begun
recruiting. The early stages have involved developing a CONOPS as well
as determining how to recruit, test and certify people with foreign
language skills, said Robert Slater, director of the National Security
Language Program. Now that much of that groundwork has been laid, the
department plans to begin recruiting this month.

To entice people to serve, the Pentagon plans to launch a Web site
highlighting benefits of serving in the language corps. Slater said
incentives include not only competitive compensation but advantage of
being identified with an organization that values foreign language
skills and the use of government-funded software to maintain language

The department is developing a list of languages deemed critical, and
plans to have it finalized in the next couple of weeks. The list will
include at least nine languages, but Arabic probably will not be among
them. "Arabic is a heavily recruited language already," Slater said.
"We'd rather look at some other languages right now."

The pilot project includes a $19 million contract awarded to General
Dynamics Information Technology under which the company will create a
language training and communications center, recruit corps members and
provide personnel support.

Slater said the department hopes to assess by the end of this year
whether the pilot is working. If it proves successful, Defense will
structure a proposal to make the language corps permanent by the end of
the pilot in 2010.

While the project is being run within Defense, the concept holds
benefits for the rest of government, McGinn said. "We looked at other
agencies to determine what their needs might be," she said. "We're
working to understand how [other agencies] can use this corps of people
and bring them in when there are national needs."

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