Monday, February 13, 2017

The CIA wants foreign language speakers

CIA needs foreign language experts 

     I believe the CIA is desperate to hire linguists. The Director of National Intelligence issued a May 2012 directive that improved foreign language skills throughout the U.S. intelligence community, and the CIA knows that foreign language interpretation by linguists is "essential to the performance of intelligence missions and operations."
     Remember Leon Panetta, the former CIA Director? Years ago, he doubled the number of analysts and collectors who were proficient in languages, particularly those that were mission critical. He set out to increase by 50% the number of people with the right language skills to serve in language-use positions. He also transformed the way CIA trains its officers in foreign language capabilities and increased the number of officers in full-time language training (Increased the number of officers from the National Clandestine Service in full-time training by 50% and tripled the number of analysts from the Directorate of Intelligence in full-time training).

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     Since then, the CIA has been on a mission to recruit and retain new officers who have critical language skills. Foreign language competence for intelligence purposes extends well beyond mastery of a common vocabulary or the ability to translate a newspaper article. Shortfalls in foreign language abilities are a recurring problem in U.S. intelligence agencies, for less than 20 percent of Americans speak at least two languages. And, the Intelligence Community must find, among that population, its multilingual recruits from a much smaller pool of candidates who are willing and able to serve.
     A major constraint on HUMINT collection is the availability of personnel trained in appropriate languages. Cold War efforts required a supply of linguists in a relatively finite set of foreign languages, but today's Intelligence Community, especially the CIA, needs experts in a wider range of more obscure languages and dialects, according to CRS specialist Richard A. Best, Jr. After all, al Qaeda functions in 60 different countries around the globe!
     The CIA is boosting its ranks of foreign language speakers, with a special focus on recruiting speakers of Arabic, Mandarin (Chinese), Dari, Korean, Pashto, Farsi (Persian), Russian, Dari, and Urdu. The clandestine services refer to these as "mission critical" languages because they reflect the current world's political and military "hot spots." Linguistic fluency in these tongues are especially important if you're seeking a position in the clandestine service.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy novel series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean".  The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. Contact him on the Secure Contact Form

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