Language Capability in the United States Air Force
MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA
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To address its language capability shortfalls, the U.S. Air Force needs to establish a language office, determine its language requirements, identify personnel with the required language proficiency, and recognize the value of the Air Reserve Components as a strategic reserve. The Air Force has met most of its language needs, but just barely. When a crisis arises, the Air Force hastily tries to identify language-proficient personnel in the officer and enlisted ranks, or hire native speakers on a contract basis. But, emerging critical language requirements are not being met and current contracting practices are insufficient to meet the demand. The Air Force does not have a language office to implement an overarching language plan. It has started one, but a recently released draft plan still relies on old methods and excludes the Air Reserve Components. The ability of Air Force personnel to speak a foreign language is a critical component to effectively conducting world-wide military operations in the 21st century. To effectively meet these missions and other emerging contingencies, the Air Force needs to develop and maintain a corps of personnel with language expertise. Identifying language needs is just as important as identifying language-proficient personnel. To be strategic, the Air Force must identify what languages are required and which career fields and ranks need language capabilities. Moreover, by excluding the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve from the overall language plan, that is, failing to identify their language capabilities or to determine which languages they require, the Air Force will fall short of meeting the Defense Language Transformation Roadmaps objectives.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Forces and Organizations