35M Language Requirement Returning

Il Duce

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The process is now fully in motion for 35M to become a language dependent MOS over the next few years. That means if you're a 35M now below the rank of E-7 you've got to learn a language or your career won't progress.

For those folks looking to transfer or enlist for 35M it means you'll be going to DLI sometime in your first 3 years of enlistment if you join this year, and likely right away if you join/move in 2018 or beyond.

If you want to do MSO but not learn a language in the Army I'd recommend 35L - they had an 80% selection rate to E-6 last year so there's some career progression potential there.
 

Il Duce

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They have not established it yet but I feel sure it will be 2/2 - would be very hard to modify it off standards used by other language-dependent MOS'.
 

Il Duce

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I represented my BDE at an MI senior leader conference last year and argued the same thing. The Army Operating Concept (AOC) is 'Win in a Complex World.' GEN Perkins defines complex as the future is unknown and unknowable - we don't know for sure who/where we will fight and the more we prepare for one adversary the less likely they will actually want to fight us.

So, that means we'll never have the density of language-capable folks in the force to meet our next, much less next several conflicts. Further, a 2/2 proficiency is not even close to sufficient to conduct effective interrogations. You might be able to conducted limited MSO but even then, you really don't want to misunderstand or miss out on a significant portion of what's being said. Leadership doesn't like it because it creates more cost for contingency operations but interpreters are a requirement for MSO and interrogation at the tactical and operational level. That's a fact of life but an unpopular thing to say because it means there's an extra few million in contracting costs tacked on to every OPLAN. But, like many of the supposed cost-saving measures we adopt in strategic planning a modest 'savings' up-front just pushes the costs to be massive down the line. Wimpy would be proud.

I also think it aligns with one of the major tactical missteps (with strategic consequences) we ran into in Iraq. Fair warning, I come from the camp that believes that war - and wars like it are winnable with vastly different strategic, operational, and tactical decisions. There's definitely a strong argument out there to say the only way to win those types of wars is not to play. Anyways, one of the major missteps was our lack of language/cultural experts. The Free Iraqi Army was a bunch of worthless carpetbagging expatriates and we were woefully short of interpreters and linguists. What it created was a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs with any English speaking capabilities. Unit after unit would end up conducting raids through the information provided by their interpreters - when their interpreters had essentially turned themselves into racketeers. Interpreters would 'bring the Americans down' on their enemies, people who refused to pay them protection money, or others to their benefit. Nothing helped more to turn Iraqis against the US - and more importantly allow them to see US forces as weak in the area of intelligence - than those actions.
 

Il Duce

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What you have said^^^^leaves me more than a little uneasy. This is out of my lane, but it smacks of the loss of leadership, in favor of management. I guess we could do the same thing with immunizations. We don't know for sure what is out there, so we'll just see what you get sick with and just treat that. Both lack forward thinking, and zero planning. Or have I missed the point?
I think that's a succinct criticism of Army MI leadership over the last decade. In my opinion it can also apply to a lot of the rest of Army leadership in general.
 

DA SWO

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I represented my BDE at an MI senior leader conference last year and argued the same thing. The Army Operating Concept (AOC) is 'Win in a Complex World.' GEN Perkins defines complex as the future is unknown and unknowable - we don't know for sure who/where we will fight and the more we prepare for one adversary the less likely they will actually want to fight us.

So, that means we'll never have the density of language-capable folks in the force to meet our next, much less next several conflicts. Further, a 2/2 proficiency is not even close to sufficient to conduct effective interrogations. You might be able to conducted limited MSO but even then, you really don't want to misunderstand or miss out on a significant portion of what's being said. Leadership doesn't like it because it creates more cost for contingency operations but interpreters are a requirement for MSO and interrogation at the tactical and operational level. That's a fact of life but an unpopular thing to say because it means there's an extra few million in contracting costs tacked on to every OPLAN. But, like many of the supposed cost-saving measures we adopt in strategic planning a modest 'savings' up-front just pushes the costs to be massive down the line. Wimpy would be proud.

I also think it aligns with one of the major tactical missteps (with strategic consequences) we ran into in Iraq. Fair warning, I come from the camp that believes that war - and wars like it are winnable with vastly different strategic, operational, and tactical decisions. There's definitely a strong argument out there to say the only way to win those types of wars is not to play. Anyways, one of the major missteps was our lack of language/cultural experts. The Free Iraqi Army was a bunch of worthless carpetbagging expatriates and we were woefully short of interpreters and linguists. What it created was a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs with any English speaking capabilities. Unit after unit would end up conducting raids through the information provided by their interpreters - when their interpreters had essentially turned themselves into racketeers. Interpreters would 'bring the Americans down' on their enemies, people who refused to pay them protection money, or others to their benefit. Nothing helped more to turn Iraqis against the US - and more importantly allow them to see US forces as weak in the area of intelligence - than those actions.
Same issues in Haiti (Clinton era) with people using us as their muscle.
 

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@Il Duce , I STRONGLY agree with your statement about 2/2 and TQ. It was very frustrating telling my Cat III to translate my words exactly (no ad lib or summary) and then stumbling upon a former Uzbek taxi driver. I was able to actually develop strong rapport with the Uzbek and ask about things not normally discussed in public.

Foreign language opens doors especially when a gringo speaks a local tongue.
 

AWP

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As an outsider I'd think a certain amount of proficiency would keep the 'terps in check whereas someone with little to no competency in the language is solely dependent upon their interpreter's bias. With that said, the amount of training and costs required to keep someone even semi fluent must be staggering.
 

Il Duce

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To me it's a matter of resources vs reward. A language is a great thing to have - 6-24 months outside your MOS to get the language, and 40+ hours a month to maintain your proficiency are steep costs. I think if you can afford to specialize in a target or area of the world those trade-offs are likely worth it - especially over a long career. But when the majority of your work is happening in first or second term enlistments - your 10 and 20 level MSO folks - I don't think the trade-off is worth it. Especially when, let's say best-case scenario I have a great collector with great language skills - what happens when I deploy them to another AOR or work a different language set? I'd rather have a guy with 2 years of working MSO - solid collector, solid interrogator, good reporter, fair experience with the analyst/collector relationship - working with a terp than a mediocre linguist with zero experience in any of that stuff.

I think strategically it gets down to what is your population you're putting against requirements. SOF is awesome - bubbas with 10+ years experience make it more than worth it to load them up with skills and courses. But the conventional forces fight with our first and second term enlistees. That's the reality and we keep making these strategic choices pretending we have a different force than we do.

Climbing down from soapbox for bed...
 

lindy

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...the amount of training and costs required to keep someone even semi fluent must be staggering.
The most proficient will be exposed to their target language everyday in various ways, especially foreign press but can to go insane levels like technology.
 

Etype

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The biggest issue I see in the military is that units aren't, nor can they realistically be, regionally specific.

Outside of 7th SFG, even SF has a formidable task with languages.
 

Etype

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Isn't the standard 1+ across the board?
Yes, but even at the 2/2 level, it's pretty difficult to communicate beyond a rapport building level.

So many of the areas we operate in have regionally specific lingo and dialects, I would think it pretty difficult for a 35M to collect in great detail without a terp around for backup. Add to that the fact that the big army isn't regionally specific.

The rapport thing is huge for SOF units. Being able to have elementary school level conversations around the fire pit at night pays dividends; however, I don't see the cost/benefit being the same for 35Ms (ref @Il Duce post above).
 

Florida173

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My MSA was functionally lacking... Even when I was pushing 2/2+/2

Speaking MSA with people with a less than high school education in was pointless.

It's great on the analyst side though. Makes me functional across arabic and Farsi problem sets.
 

lindy

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Yes, but even at the 2/2 level, it's pretty difficult to communicate beyond a rapport building level.

So many of the areas we operate in have regionally specific lingo and dialects, I would think it pretty difficult for a 35M to collect in great detail without a terp around for backup.
Agree fully but the time required to maintain 3's would keep you guys away from your primary work. Hell, even your BN's 35Ps aren't even focused on language as other skills are given higher priorities.

Terps too have problems with local dialects and colloquial usage (especially in AF).
 

Etype

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...time required to maintain 3's would keep you guys away from your primary work...
That's what I was getting at.

The jump from a 1+ to a 2 is huge. For me (and I think I speak for most others), a 3 would be an unattainable goal unless it was my focus for 40 hours a week.
 
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