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Special Forces Berlin
by James Stejskal








Language Training

Special Forces training is very hard mentally and physically. One must be in superior phyiscal condition and have a great mental attitude. Equally challenging is the academic segments of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). One of these academic subjects is language training. Each Special Forces operator must have a language proficiency. Language classes last from four months to over one year. Below you will find links to references, documents, publications, websites and study aids for language training.

Military References on Language Training

DoDI 1340.27, Military Foreign Language Skill Proficiency Bonuses, May 21, 2013.

DoDI 5160.71, DoD Language Testing Program, January 26, 2009.

Department of the Army, AR 11-6 Army Foreign Language Program, 31 Aug 2009, Washington, D.C. ( Rapid action revision issue date: 23 August 2013).

FM 3-07.1, Security Force Assistance, 1 May 2009.  See Chapter 8 “Culture and Communication”, section 8-9 “Language”, page 8-2; section 10-44 “Language”, page 10-8;

HQs Department of the Army, Army Culture and Foreign Language Strategy, Washington, D.C., December 1, 2009.
http://www.alu.army.mil/ . . . .pdf

Special Operations Forces Teletraining System (SOFTS)

SOFTS is an online training program for special operators. The training offers both language and cultural training. SOFTS takes advantage of proprietary and commercial off-the-shelf technology to deliver real-time language and culture training to students anywhere in the world, including those who are unable to attend traditional classes at traditional institutions. Any Department of Defense uniformed or civilian person can apply for the online training. Classes will only be initiated for SOF personnel, but empty seats can be filled by other DoD personnel. Priority is given to SOF personnel.

CL-150 Technology Matrix for Critical Languages

Transparent Language provides support for the USSOCOM language program through the CL-150 Technology Matrix. The program makes language students more productive during their studies and employment of their language. Over 100 languages are supported. Supported devices include smartphone, tablet, PC, and Mac. Contact your language program manager for access.

Websites on Language Training

Defense Language Institute (DLI).  A website providing documents and training aids for learning a foreign language.

ILR Website. Interagency Language Roundtable.

U.S. Air Force Culture & Language Center.

Ethnologue – Languages of the World, Afghanistan Index of SIL Publications, SIL.

United Service Organizations (USO) – Free Afghan Language Programs

Language Training for Military Personnel & Families - Transparent Language.

HeadStart2 Language Training - DLIFLC

Rapport. Lingnet.org offers training modules consisting of 6 -8 hours in a target language. Covers history, religion, geography, and basic social exchanges.

Army Learning - Dynamic Immersion.
www.usma.edu/dfl/ . . . QuickStartGuide.pdf

Joint Language University - DoD. Free online language training for DoD and government employees. Language training portal.

SCOLA Language Training. A non-profit educational organization providing language resources in more than 175 native languages. SCOLA receives and re-transmits foreign TV programming from around the world and provides other foreign language resources, language lessons, and learning material on their website.

BBC Language Training.

25th Air Force Language Portal.

Defense Language Institute FLC Student Blog

Defense Language Institute FLC Facebook

Canadian Forces Language School

Papers, Publications, Blog Posts, and Other Info on Language Training


Walsh, Sean P. Special Forces Language Training: What Would it Cost to do it Right?, Small Wars Journal, July 8, 2014.


Outzen, Richard. “Language, Culture, and Army Culture: Failing Transformation”, Small Wars Journal, March 20, 2012.


Howard, Russell D. Cultural and Linguistic Skills Acquistion for Special Forces: Necessity, Acceleration, and Potential Alternatives, Joint Special Operations University, JSOU Report 11-6, December 2011.

Smiley, Morgan. “Overcoming Our Dearth of Language Skills”, Small Wars Journal, August 23, 2011.


House Armed Services Committee. Building Language Skills and Cultural Competancies in the Military: Bridging the Gap, U.S. House of Representatives, December 2010.
http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=2361. . . .


Sunds, Brenett P. June 16, 2006. Selecting Foreign Languages for United States Army Special Operations Forces, Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS.


DoD IG. Army Special Forces Foreign Language Program, DoD Inspector General Audit Report Number 91-123, September 27, 1991.

News Articles and Reports about Army Language Programs

June 25, 2014. "Language Learning Software Now Free to All Military, Government Personnel". National Defense Magazine.

January 25, 2013. "Beef up your education with language training". Army Times.

January 12, 2013. "Smart Power: Army making cultural training a priority". CNN.com.

September 10, 2012. "Army aims to use words, not weapons, with Afghans". NPR.

December 6, 2011. "Army Culture and  Foreign Language Strategy", Stand-To!.

October 21, 2011. "Online language training now earns promotion points". Army.mil.

August 25, 2011. "Lost in Translation: How the Army Wastes Linguists". Wired.com.

August 24, 2011. "The Pentagon's Foreign-Language Frustrations". Time.com.

July 13, 2011. "Special Forces teach language and regional studies to higher levels". DLI.

April 26, 2011. "Military pushes language training". News and Observer.

August 11, 2009. "U.S. Military Benefits from Language Training". DoD News.

September 21, 2008. "For Military, Slow Progress in Foreign Language Push". The New York Times.

April 22, 2006. "Language skills for US Special Forces". Intellibriefs.



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