DNI Seeks to Bolster IC Foreign Language Capability

07.09.12 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Director of National Intelligence issued a new directive that is intended to improve foreign language skills throughout the U.S. intelligence community.

“Foreign language capabilities are essential to the performance of intelligence missions and operations,” the May 2012 directive notes.

Foreign language competence for intelligence purposes extends well beyond mastery of a common vocabulary or the ability to translate a newspaper article.

“Foreign language capabilities include a broad range of language proficiency skills and other abilities, such as cultural awareness and understanding, regional expertise, skill in translation and interpretation, and knowledge of the scientific and technical vocabularies of critical foreign languages,” the directive says.

“This Directive establishes an integrated approach to develop, maintain, and improve foreign language capabilities across the Intelligence Community (IC).” See Intelligence Community Directive 630, “Intelligence Community Foreign Language Capability,” May 14, 2012.

Shortfalls in foreign language abilities are a recurring problem in U.S. intelligence agencies.

“U.S. intelligence efforts are complicated by unfilled requirements for foreign language expertise,” according to the Congressional Research Service.

“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 the intelligence community now needs experts in a wider range of more obscure languages and dialects,” wrote CRS specialist Richard A. Best, Jr. last year.

See all publications
Science Policy
Expected Utility Forecasting for Science Funding

Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.

11.20.23 | 11 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Notebook: Nuclear Weapons Sharing, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

11.17.23 | 1 min read
read more
Social Innovation
Community School Approach Reaches High of 60%, Reports Latest Pulse Panel

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.

11.17.23 | 4 min read
read more
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Recognizes Exemplary Work in Science Policy and Culture with the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Todd (R-IN), and Dr. Alondra Nelson presented with FAS Public Service Awards;
Alexa White received the inaugural FAS Policy Entrepreneurship award.

11.16.23 | 4 min read
read more