Accession Number:

ADA510995

Title:

A Tenuous Link to Success: Proper Use of Interpreters in Counterinsurgency

Descriptive Note:

Research paper

Corporate Author:

MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2009-02-20

Pagination or Media Count:

15.0

Abstract:

We are very good at navigating the physical terrain, we have to be just as good at navigating the human terrain. This quote by Brigadier General Lake reflects the importance of proper communication with native peoples during counterinsurgency operations. After six years of war, Marines remain unprepared for the confusing and nuanced world of cross-cultural communication. When the center of gravity is the populace, correct communication between Marines and the native people is vital. Lack of cultural preparation prior to the invasion forced the Marine Corps to build the bulwark of its interpreter pool with locally hired Iraqi interpreters. To ensure success in future counterinsurgency operations, the Marine Corps must reconsider the use of local interpreters due to cultural damage caused by interpreter corruption, incompetence, and insurgent infiltration. The Marine Corps dependence on indigenous interpreters is a weakness that will not go away in the future. Training more military linguists and the recent Marine Corps focus on language and cultural operations will help, but it will not completely eliminate the need for local translators. A cadre of interpreter supervisors trained and inducted into a unit prior to deployment will help alleviate some of these issues. Interpreter corruption, incompetence, and infiltration by the enemy are obstacles that not all Marines are prepared to handle, but by taking basic steps they can alleviate these problems significantly.

Subject Categories:

  • Linguistics
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE