MOS 97L, Translator/Interpreter: The current situation. (Leadership Notes).
Addressing the DLI Foreign Language Center (FLC) and USAIC&FH Language Conference in November 2001, theArmy Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence (DCSINT), discussed our critical need to understand the enemy's capabilities in this new age of asymmetrical warfare. According to Lieutenant General Robert W. Noonan, Jr., we must know the enemy's language and culture to anticipate his next movements and then act first instead of reacting. The DCSINT stated that we must raise the 2/2-language proficiency standard to the 3/3 level to meet today's Army mission requirements in concert with the implementation of new technology for the U.S. Army Forces (ARFOR).
Elimination of the 97L MOS would deprive the Army and Department of Defense of trained translators and interpreters, especially if they migrate to 97E (Human Intelligence Collector). The capabilities of the previous translator MOS, 04B, transferred to the interrogation MOS and over the years lost its translator and interpreter skill set. It became so diluted that eventually there was no comparison to the original MOS training (which, by the way, did not teach the same principles as the present 97L); a similar situation would occur with 97L.
Since DLI began instructing the 97L1 0 course (USAIC&FH is still the proponent), the Army has seen unprecedented growth in the numbers of qualified Military Intelligence (Ml) linguists who earned the MOS. The RC has more than 600 trained 97Ls. If these 97Ls move to the 97E program, the 97L10 DLI training would probably cease overtime; many would view it as resource-inefficient to add additional training to the 97E Advanced Individual Training, which would likely result in MOS 97L succumbing to the same fate as 04B. Further, some would say that translation and interpretation are just other language skills where linguists only require language proficiency and a good dictionary. Nothing could be further from realty. I challenge any military linguist who has not studied translation and interpretation techniques to translate or interpret at the same level as a 97L.
Military linguists who have taken the 97L1 0 training will attest that translation and interpretation are distinct skills requiring specific training. This training will perish if 97L migrates into any existing MOS.
The recent language conference offered presentations and discussion of heritage speaker issues and a variety of job-related language training products and programs. Participants from the government, industry, and academia demonstrated products ranging from voice-recognition software to language-sustainment programs and computer-assisted translation systems. Additional information on the November 2001 Conference presentations and attendees is available at http://usaic.hua.army.mil/112web/aics/aics%2oweb/langconference.htm.
Pete Shaver is the Chief, Training, Analysis, Development Division Language Branch, at USAIC&FH and the 97L Course Manager. He can be reach at (520) 5381042/DSN 879-1042 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.