A Cunning Linguist

On my way back from Wisconsin, I met a man on the plane. He sat next to me on my Denver to San Francisco leg of the trip. Upon seating myself he turned to me and said, “I noticed your haircut, are you ex-military?” I responded that I just shave my head because when I play basketball it’s easier that way. When asked if he was ex-military he told me he was currently a recruiter for the military’s linguistics school in Monterrey, CA (it’s called the Defense Language Institute, which I found after a bit of Googling.)

Over the course of the trip we chatted a bit as we were both coming home from recruiting trips. One of the interesting things he told me was about how he was stationed in the Balkans doing some weird sort of job where he would go to bars at night and watch the off-duty soldiers (from which side of the fighting I don’t know.)

I asked him if there was a strong push for Arabic linguists, and he seemed indifferent. I gathered it wasn’t the end-all and be-all of his recruiting to find Arabic speakers or people who were interested in that. I also inferred that a lot of DLI grads go on to the NSA to be listening post technicians rather than in-combat translators and such. Overall, he seemed to think things were going rather well for the DLI.

The reason I bring this up now is that I saw via First Draft that the Marines haven’t hit their recruiting numbers for the fist time since 1995. Reading down the quote I saw this:

In a reflection of the difficult market for Marine recruiters, the service offers bonuses of up to $30,000 to retain combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than relying mainly on replenishing its infantry with troops fresh from boot camp. About 75 percent of enlisted marines leave the service after their first tour, requiring a steady stream of recruits moving through training centers in San Diego and Parris Island, S.C.


The Marines are devising recruiting strategies and offering signing bonuses of $2,000 to $5,000 for specialized jobs, like linguists and avionics technicians.

Sgt. Kimberly Leone, a marketing and public affairs representative at the Marine recruiting station in Chicago, said one new recruiting strategy would involve sending the Marine Corps Band from San Diego to high schools across the country.

Emphasis mine.

Overlooking the overall downward trend in recruiting for That Man’s Army, it was interesting to see the above report less than a week after talking with one of the gentlemen actually doing the recruiting.

Political Animal commented on the revelation that the US is putting down its own intelligence agencies in order to promote material as genuine. From PA:

“This was not a conclusion reached by the CIA” or the intelligence bureau at the State Department, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the intelligence matter. “This was the lab technicians from DOE.”

He said this gave added credence to the report because it was based not on a murky intelligence assessment but on hard data.

It’s pretty pathetic that administration officials now feel like they have to go out of their way to insist that U.S. intelligence wasn’t involved in something if they want it to have any credibility at all.

It’s also worth noting the cheap shot thrown at the State Department’s intelligence agency, which actually has a very good track record. Shouldn’t it have been “not the CIA or the Pentagon”?

If the government spurns the intelligence it gets from agencies such as the CIA, NSA, and State why not steal away some of their linguists to put out in the field if they are needed so badly? Perhaps because the government of Personal Responsibility wants it both ways: if the intel is good, then the Administration can take all the credit. If the intel is good and the Administration ignores it in favor of the neo-con’s back-of-the-envelope flower flower petal calculations, then they can scream about how horrible American Intelligence is.

–whazz on

2 thoughts on “A Cunning Linguist

  1. The Defense Lang. Institute can teach you to be fluent in arabic in like, 5 minutes. That’s how good of a program it is. I would totally have skipped this hell hole of a law school to learn more languages and become an international woman (preferably under the cover of a socialite) of intrigue, but I don’t look good in green.

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