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Release No: 300-05
March 30, 2005

DoD Announces Plan to Improve Foreign Language Expertise

The Department of Defense announced today a major initiative to develop foreign language and cultural expertise among its military and civilian members.


The initiative, reflects a long-standing priority of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to achieve three major goals: to create foundational language and cultural expertise in the officer, civilian and enlisted ranks for both active and reserve forces; to create the capacity to surge language and cultural resources beyond in-house capabilities; and to establish a cadre of language specialists with advanced levels of proficiency.


It also intends to improve the language skills of the officer corps in general as well as consider language ability in the promotion of general officers.


We simply must develop a greater capacity for languages that reflect the demands of this century, Rumsfeld said. No technology delivers this capability; it is a truly human skill that our forces must have to win, and that we must have to keep the peace.


The departments Defense Language Transformation Roadmap is a commitment to our men and women that they will have that skill and ability.


The initiative is based upon lessons learned since Sept. 11. It also addresses the findings of the Defense Science Board study on transition to and from hostilities.


Examples of actions directed by the Transformation Roadmap include:


Revision of policy, doctrine and planning guidance to optimize the accession, development and employment of those with language skills and reflect the need for deliberately planned operational and contingency language support.


Building a capabilities-based language requirements determination process and tracking language readiness.


Surveying the current military and civilian force for language proficiency and providing incentives for the sustainment of that expertise.


Requiring junior officers to complete language training and expanding study abroad programs and experiences in foreign countries.


Establishing foreign language ability criterion for general and flag officer advancement.


Determining the need for enhancing civilian language and regional expertise in the workforce.


Actions directed by the roadmap will be implemented over time.


To track progress and ensure implementation, Rumsfeld has established a Defense Language Office reporting to David S.C. Chu, the under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.


A full copy of the Language Transformation Roadmap is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2005/d20050330roadmap.pdf.


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