[lg policy] Language policies of world militaries?

dzo at bisharat.net dzo at bisharat.net
Wed Feb 18 17:04:39 UTC 2015

Is anyone aware of any compilation of information on language policies 
of militaries of the world? Particularly interested in multilingual 
countries in general, and in Africa, but broader information is always 
useful for comparisons.

One might assume that militaries follow the official language policies 
of their respective states, but is this always so? One would also assume 
that some standard language policy would be necessary to avoid the babel 
effect at inopportune moments.

However, in many countries, language skills down the ranks may vary. So 
are there cases where more than one language is officially used? De 
facto usage of other languages that is tolerated to facilitate 
communication in special circumstances, or training in order to 
facilitate optimal learning? Problems with diverse language use within 
militaries (case studies)?

For example, when in Uganda a few years ago I heard specifically that 
only English and Swahili (both official in the country) were permitted 
in their armed forces (UPDF) and on their military facilities. On the 
other hand, US Army language policy is framed with a focus on operations 
in this way:

"English is the operational language of the Army. Soldiers must maintain 
sufficient proficiency in English to perform their military duties. 
Their operational communications must be understood by everyone who has 
an official need to know their content, and, therefore, must normally be 
in English. However, commanders may not require Soldiers to use English 
unless such use is clearly necessary and proper for the performance of 
military functions. Accordingly, commanders may not require the use of 
English for personal communications that are unrelated to military 
US Army Regulation 600–20 (2014) "Army Command Policy" 

Thanks in advance for any info.

Don Osborn
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