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DoD Announces Increase in Foreign Language Pay

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2006 – The Defense Department announced yesterday an increase in foreign language proficiency pay for qualified military personnel, effective June 1.

The maximum monthly pay for active-duty servicemembers who are proficient in another language will be increased from $300 to $1,000. For National Guard and reserve members, a $6,000 per-year bonus will be offered.

This increase comes under the fiscal 2005 National Defense Authorization Act and will be focused on languages that are strategically important to DoD, such as Middle Eastern languages and Chinese Mandarin, said Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The goal of this increase is not necessarily to boost recruiting and retention, but to identify already qualified servicemembers whose skills are untapped, Krenke said.

"This will encourage them to self-identify so we can get a better handle on what we have," she said.

The increase is also meant to motivate servicemembers to study languages, so the military can develop a strong corps of language professionals, Krenke said.

"It's another way that we have to encourage people to pursue this skill as part of a military career," she said.

According to Pentagon figures, about 247,000 servicemembers have some language proficiency, but only about 20,000 have had their skill certified and receive proficiency pay. About 7,249 servicemembers are listed as proficient in Arabic.

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