Last year, the Department of Defense thought it had completed a detailed survey
of language skills among all its personnel. While the active duty personnel
followed orders and did the survey, reservists, particularly in the army were
less diligent. Less than ten percent of the reservists complied. Part of the
reason was that participation in the survey was not made mandatory. Now it is,
and the army expects to identify over 50,000 reservists with foreign language
did take the survey initially, revealed that 22,000 troops had some skill (from
crude to fluent) in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and Hindi. These languages are much
in demand by the armed forces. The plan is now to encourage those who are
less-than-fluent to improve their skills. Free training will be provided, with
the prospect of those bonuses once greater proficiency is achieved.
Army has found that about 13 percent of its troops have some foreign language
skills. About ten percent of that group are talented, or needed, enough to
receive special pay for their language abilities. This amounts to up to $12,000
a year for active duty troops, and $6,000 a year for reservists. The max rate
is available to those with high skill levels in Arabic, Turkish (used in
Central Asia), Farsi (Iranian), Chinese, Korean, Dari (Farsi dialect spoken in
Afghanistan), Hindi (many dialects in India), Somali and Swahili (common
language in East Africa). The minimum bonus is $3,600 a year. Skills are tested
regularly to maintain qualification.
are crucial for successful intelligence work, in peace as well as war. In
particular, you want people who have security clearances, or who can get them.
Department of Defense employees fit the bill here. Otherwise, you have to hire
civilian linguists, who often do not have clearances, cannot get them, or are
actually liable to act as spies for foreign nations.