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Language and Culture Training: Opportunities Exist to Improve Visibility and Sustainment of Knowledge and Skills in Army and Marine Corps General Purpose Forces

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The Department of Defense DoD has emphasized the importance of developing language skills and knowledge of foreign cultures to meet current and future needs and is investing millions of dollars to provide language and culture predeployment training to its general purpose forces. DoD also has noted that such training should be viewed as a long-term investment and that training and personnel systems should better account for the knowledge and skills of service members acquired through training to help manage its forces. The committee report accompanying a proposed bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 H.R. 5136 directed GAO to review language and culture training for Army and Marine Corps general purpose forces. For this report, GAO evaluated the extent to which these services did the following 1 captured information in training and personnel systems on the completion of language and culture predeployment training and proficiency gained from training, and 2 developed plans to sustain language skills acquired through predeployment training. GAO analyzed service documents and interviewed cognizant officials. GAO made recommendations intended to improve the availability of information on training completion and proficiency and help DoD plan for sustainment training. DoD generally agreed with the recommendations, but stated that the definition of significant language training was not intended to describe training for initial skills. However, DoD noted that current guidance does not preclude language proficiency testing at this stage.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Sociology and Law
  • Linguistics
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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