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Thread: Foreign Language Pay Increase

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Foreign Language Pay Increase

    11 May American Forces Press Service - DoD Announces Increase in Foreign Language Pay.

    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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    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    This sounds like a good step in the right direction. Previous payments for language skill never made since to me since they were at times paying for languages that are already wide spread in the military, specifically German and Spanish which the Army seems unlikely to run out of anytime soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED
    The increase is also meant to motivate servicemembers to study languages, so the military can develop a strong corps of language professionals, Krenke said.
    That's a huge increase! And I thought it was a big deal when the max went from $100 to $300.

    That should succeed on the motivational side, but the Army has already shot itself in the foot on the capabilities side.

    Once again, I'm beating the drum of HUMINT. Doing away with the language requirement for entry level HUMINT (PVT - SPC), was a huge mistake that is already having a negative impact in the field. In practice, the language requirement is waived for promotion to SGT, and then mandated to acquire a language for SSG and above.

    The operational effect is awful. The MI schoolhouse simply churns out a lot of bodies that are half-trained, with no language skills, and most of'em get deployed right away. Its a great example of the Big Army choosing numbers over quality. With the exception of a very few bright shining lights, our tactical HUMINT effort is broken.

    Holding off entry-level language training until the mid-grade NCO level results in a crippling effect upon operational expertise for those who need it most.

    HUMINT training itself has suffered tremendously, since almost all of the experienced Army guys in uniform are deployed or assigned to an operational unit, teaching the critical skills has been taken up by contractors - most of whom were former Army HUMINT in a very different operational environment. Many don't have any real operational experience, even from "the old days", and a few are instructing who have no real HUMINT background at all. Couple that with overlarge class sizes as TRADOC tries to push through as many bodies as possible, and you get a picture of how poor the quality of training is at a time when effective tactical HUMINT is needed more than ever.

    Throwing money at language is a great motivator - but it doesn't fix the real problem.

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