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Not Serious: Linguists

CT blog post about language deficiencies at State is a variation on the theme we’ve been hearing for years in the IC and military. Frankly there is no excuse for this at this stage of the game. Even if we’re not serious about understanding others, we ought to be able to more readily communicate with them (if for no other reason that to make sure our PSYOPs campaigns are more effective). Acquiring and retaining language skills is a serious long-term investment that does not fit into the one-career-path-fits-all mindset perpetuated by Uncle Sam.

How to fix? First, seek out and hire all the former military linguists who were sent home because they listened to a little too much Erasure. Second, shake-and-bake them with the very basic knowledge required to be functional in the jobs they are most desperately needed (call them “probationary” if you like). Third, OJT them in all the essential skills and leverage all the local and distance learning options available to bring those who lack requisite levels of education up to snuff. In parallel with all of this have HR develop an interim career path that allows for specialization and a clear and rewarding ladder to the top (refine as lessons are learned). Inside of four years (much less for most) you have a cadre of ~300 more linguists doing Uncle Sam’s (secret and public) business. The financial commitment is nominal and the impact in the long run is immeasurable.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.