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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on 
Armed Services, House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 1:30 p.m. EDT:
Tuesday, June 29, 2010: 

Military Training: 

Continued Actions Needed to Guide DOD's Efforts to Improve Language 
Skills and Regional Proficiency: 

Statement of Sharon L. Pickup:
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 

GAO-10-879T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-10-879T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Armed Services, House of 
Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Today, and in the foreseeable future, military operations require U.S. 
personnel to work alongside multinational partners and among local 
populations. The Department of Defense (DOD) has placed a greater 
emphasis on transforming language and regional proficiency 
capabilities, which includes cultural awareness. GAOís prior work has 
found that integrated strategic plans with measurable goals and 
funding priorities linked to goals can help guide organizational 
transformations. Decision makers also require complete information to 
identify capability gaps and assess risk. 

This testimony summarizes GAOís prior work and recommendations on 
DODís efforts to develop language skills and regional proficiency and 
the steps DOD has taken to implement our prior recommendations. 
Specifically, it addresses the extent to which DOD has (1) developed a 
strategic plan to guide its language and regional proficiency 
transformation efforts and (2) obtained the information it needs to 
identify capability gaps and assess risk. GAOís statement is based on 
a June 2009 report and work conducted during May 2010 through June 
2010 to update the status of GAOís recommendations. 

What GAO Found: 

DOD has taken steps to transform its language and regional proficiency 
capabilities, but it has not yet developed a comprehensive strategic 
plan to guide its transformation efforts. DOD established Senior 
Language Authorities within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 
the military services, and other components, developed a governance 
structure to provide internal oversight over transformation efforts, 
updated policies, and published a Defense Language Transformation 
Roadmap with broad goals and objectives. Each military service has 
also developed or is currently developing strategies using the roadmap 
as guidance or as a complementary document. However, GAO reported in 
June 2009 that not all objectives within the 2005 roadmap were 
measurable and that DOD had not identified the resources required to 
implement roadmap tasks or linked the roadmap to funding requests. In 
the absence of a comprehensive plan, GAO concluded it would be 
difficult for DOD to guide the military services as they develop their 
strategies and related training programs, and ensure these efforts 
were consistent with DOD-wide goals. Furthermore, DOD and Congress 
would lack information needed to assess progress toward a successful 
transformation and evaluate funding requests. GAO recommended that DOD 
develop a strategic plan that includes measurable performance goals 
and objectives and investment priorities. DOD agreed with this 
recommendation and estimated that a strategic plan would be completed 
by September 2009. In June 2010, DOD officials informed GAO that the 
plan is undergoing final review and approval. 

DOD lacks the information needed to identify gaps in language and 
regional proficiency and to assess related risks. GAO reported in June 
2009 that DOD had developed an inventory of its language capabilities 
for military personnel, but it did not yet have data on regional 
proficiency capabilities because DOD lacked an agreed-upon way to 
assess and validate these skills. GAO concluded that without complete 
information, DOD could not determine capability gaps and assess risk 
effectively and recommended that DOD establish a mechanism to assess 
and validate regional proficiency capabilities. DOD agreed with this 
recommendation. As of June 2010, DOD had not established such a 
mechanism. GAO also reported that DOD lacked a standardized 
methodology to aid DOD components in identifying language and regional 
proficiency requirements and, as a result, estimates of requirements 
varied widely. GAO concluded that without such a validated 
methodology, DOD would not have a reliable way to identify language 
and regional proficiency requirements. GAO recommended that DOD 
develop a validated methodology for identifying these requirements for 
all communities and all proficiency levels. DOD agreed, stating that 
it had two assessments underway intended to produce a standardized 
methodology. In June 2010, DOD officials told GAO that, based on the 
assessments, they had developed a methodology, which is being reviewed 
by senior DOD leaders. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-879T] or key 
components. For more information, contact Sharon Pickup at (202) 512-
9619 or pickups@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to be here today to discuss our work on the Department of 
Defense's (DOD) efforts to improve the knowledge and skills of U.S. 
forces to speak foreign languages and acquire greater awareness of 
diverse cultures in countries and regions around the world.[Footnote 
1] Today and in the foreseeable future, military operations--including 
counterinsurgency and stability operations--require U.S. military 
personnel to work alongside multinational partners and interact with 
local populations in a variety of regions and contexts. Because of 
lessons learned from ongoing operations, especially in Iraq and 
Afghanistan, as well as changes in the overall security environment, 
DOD is placing greater emphasis on developing language and regional 
proficiency within its military and civilian workforce. In its 2010 
Quadrennial Defense Review, DOD concluded that U.S. forces would be 
able to perform their missions more effectively--both in the near term 
and against future adversaries--if they had more and better key 
enabling capabilities, including language expertise. Based on their 
operational experience, ground commanders have also expressed the same 
view. In particular, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan stressed 
that language training is critical to conducting counterinsurgency 
operations and achieving success, and stated that language training is 
as important as marksmanship and other key training. Among other 
things, he called for military personnel in ground combat units to 
obtain a certain level of language proficiency and to better 
understand the Afghan culture. In May 2010, the Secretary of Defense 
reinforced the need for U.S. forces and DOD civilians to be prepared 
for the complexities of the operational environment in Afghanistan and 
Pakistan. To that end, the Secretary issued guidance, which included a 
statement about the need for aligned training, personnel processes, 
and programs to provide deploying units, leaders, and staffs with 
required language and cultural skills. 

Congress, and this subcommittee in particular, has played a key role 
in emphasizing the importance of building language skills and regional 
proficiency in DOD, and in overseeing DOD's efforts. In addition to 
the subcommittee's study on the challenges DOD faces in building 
language skills and cultural competencies in the military,[Footnote 2] 
we have also evaluated DOD's progress in these areas. We issued two 
products, in November 2008 and June 2009, and in many cases reached 
similar conclusions and recommendations as your subcommittee.[Footnote 
3] In response to a mandate from the House Armed Services Committee, 
in the committee report accompanying the proposed Fiscal Year 2011 
National Defense Authorization Act,[Footnote 4] we will be continuing 
our work, and will be focusing more specifically on the efforts of the 
Army and Marine Corps to develop and implement language, regional 
expertise, and cultural awareness training plans for general purpose 
forces. 

Today, you asked me to discuss our June 2009 report, and in 
particular, our recommendations and DOD's progress in implementing 
them. My testimony addresses the extent to which DOD has (1) developed 
a strategic plan to guide its language and regional proficiency 
transformation efforts and (2) obtained the information it needs to 
identify capability gaps and assess risks. In summary, because of the 
magnitude of such a large-scale organizational transformation, it is 
important that DOD have a comprehensive strategic plan with viable 
performance goals, objectives, and metrics for measuring progress. In 
order to identify potential gaps, assess risks, and develop viable 
mitigation strategies, DOD also needs complete information on its 
existing inventory of language and regional proficiency skills as well 
as validated requirements of its needs. Therefore, we recommended that 
DOD develop a comprehensive strategic plan for its language and 
regional proficiency transformation, establish a mechanism to assess 
the regional proficiency skills of its military and civilian 
personnel, and develop a methodology to identify its language and 
regional proficiency requirements. DOD agreed with our recommendations 
and has completed some actions, and has others underway. However, 
until it develops a strategic plan and has complete information on its 
inventory of language and regional proficiency skills and related 
requirements, it will not have a sound basis for guiding its efforts 
or developing strategies to address any gaps in capabilities. 

This statement is based on our June 2009 report.[Footnote 5] In 
addition, our comments are based on information we obtained in May 
2010 and June 2010 to update our prior work, including DOD's progress 
in implementing our recommendations. In particular, we obtained 
updated information from DOD officials regarding their efforts to 
develop a strategic plan and a methodology to identify language and 
regional proficiency requirements, among other things. All of the work 
was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards, and our previously published report contains 
additional details on the scope and methodology for that review. Those 
standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

DOD Has Taken Steps to Transform Language and Regional Proficiency 
Capabilities, but Still Needs a Comprehensive Strategic Plan to Guide 
Its Efforts: 

The Office of the Secretary of Defense has taken a number of steps 
over the past several years to transform its language and regional 
proficiency capabilities, including designating Senior Language 
Authorities within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the 
military services, and other DOD components; developing a governance 
structure; updating policies; and publishing the Defense Language 
Transformation Roadmap--the primary document that DOD has used to 
guide its efforts to date. The governance structure consists of a 
number of components, including the following: 

* Defense Language Steering Committee: comprised of Senior Language 
Authorities from the military services and other DOD organizations and 
chaired by the DOD Senior Language Authority, the committee provides 
senior-level guidance regarding the language transformation effort and 
the development of DOD's language capabilities.[Footnote 6] 

* Defense Language Action Panel: comprised of less-senior 
representatives from the same entities represented on the Defense 
Language Steering Committee, the panel supports the activities, 
functions, and responsibilities of the Defense Language Steering 
Committee. 

* Defense Language Office: provides strategic direction and 
programmatic oversight to the DOD components on present and future 
requirements related to language as well as regional and cultural 
proficiency, and supports the DOD Senior Language Authority in 
carrying out their assigned responsibilities.[Footnote 7] 

In addition to setting up a governance structure, DOD published the 
Defense Language Transformation Roadmap in 2005, and in this document 
established overarching goals and desired outcomes. DOD considered 
these outcomes to be the same as objectives. Table 1 below shows the 
roadmap's goals and selected objectives.[Footnote 8] 

Table 1: DOD Goals and Selected Objectives for Language and Regional 
Proficiency Capabilities Transformation: 

Goals: Create foundational language and regional proficiency in the 
civilian, officer, and enlisted ranks for both Active and Reserve 
Components; 
Objectives: 
* DOD has personnel with language skills capable of responding as 
needed for peacetime and wartime operations with the correct levels of 
proficiency; 
* The total force understands and values the tactical, operational, 
and strategic asset inherent in regional proficiency and language; 
* Regional area education is incorporated into Professional Military 
Education and Development. 

Goals: Create capacity to surge language and regional proficiency 
resources beyond these foundational and in-house capabilities; 
Objectives: 
* DOD has the ability to provide language and regional proficiency 
support to operational units when needed. 

Goals: Establish a cadre of language specialists possessing general - 
professional proficiency[A] for reading, listening, and speaking; 
Objectives: 
* DOD understands the numbers of personnel and levels of proficiency 
and performance required for tasks involving general- professional-
proficiency-level and below language skills, and the DOD components 
have established career paths and training plans to get the right 
people to the correct proficiency level; 
* Programs are in place to train personnel to achieve a general-
professional-proficiency level or higher, along with specialized 
professional skills, where required to support DOD specified tasks; 
* Programs are in place to train personnel to achieve a general-
professional-proficiency level or below to support DOD language-
specified tasks. 

Goals: Establish a process to track the accession, separation, and 
promotion rates of language professionals and Foreign Area Officers[B]; 
Objectives: 
* Military personnel with language skills and Foreign Area Officers 
are developed and managed as critical strategic assets; 
* All services have established professional career tracks for Foreign 
Area Officers and promote Foreign Area Officers competitively; 
* DOD oversight ensures the effective tracking and management of these 
strategic assets. 

Source: DOD. 

Notes: Data are from the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap. 

[A] General-professional proficiency for reading is the ability to 
read with almost complete comprehension; for listening is the ability 
to understand a standard dialect; and for speaking is the ability to 
speak with sufficient vocabulary for most formal and informal 
conversations. 

[B] According to DOD, Foreign Area Officers are commissioned officers 
who, in addition to their primary military specialty, also possess a 
combination of strategic focus, regional expertise, cultural 
awareness, and foreign language skill. 

[End of table] 

For each roadmap goal, DOD identified several tasks that it planned to 
complete in support of the objectives, and assigned responsibility to 
various organizations for initiating efforts to complete the tasks. 
For example, to support the goal of creating foundational language and 
regional area expertise, one of the tasks DOD identified was to 
publish an annual Strategic Language List. This list reflects 
languages for which DOD has current and projected requirements and for 
which it intends to allocate resources, such as to provide training 
and testing, and pay incentives. The Defense Language Office has been 
responsible for monitoring completion of the roadmap tasks, which 
totaled 43 tasks. As of June 2010, DOD officials stated that they had 
completed all of the tasks except one related to developing policy and 
doctrine, which they consider to be an ongoing effort. 

Using the roadmap as guidance or a complementary document, each 
military service has developed or is in the process of developing a 
service-specific strategy for language and regional-proficiency 
transformation. These strategies are intended, in part, to guide 
service training efforts. The military services provide predeployment 
training to general purpose forces--the amount of which depends on the 
unit's mission and the amount of time available for such training as 
articulated by the commander of the unit. The services have 
established centers to assist in coordinating, developing, 
distributing, and providing basic language and regional proficiency 
training and have also taken steps to incorporate language and 
regional proficiency into their professional military education for 
general purpose forces. 

Our prior work has shown that for a strategic plan to be helpful, it 
should contain certain key elements, such as measurable performance 
goals and objectives and funding priorities that are linked to goals. 
[Footnote 9] Table 2 below further discusses these elements. 

Table 2: Key Strategic Planning Elements for Language and Regional 
Proficiency Transformation: 

Planning element: Measurable performance goals and objectives; 
Description: Establish long-term goals that identify expected results 
and when to expect such results; Set forth specific, measurable, and 
time-bound objectives linked to long-term goals to measure progress 
toward achieving these goals. 

Planning element: Funding priorities linked to goals; 
Description: Identify funding priorities and link to goals to assist 
with organizational, congressional, and executive branch funding 
decisions. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

While the roadmap did establish goals and desired outcomes, which DOD 
considered to be objectives, we found they had some limitations, and 
that other key planning elements were missing. For example: 

* Some goals and objectives in DOD's roadmap were not measurable or 
time-bound. For example, one of DOD's objectives is for the total 
force to understand and value the tactical, operational, and strategic 
asset inherent in regional expertise and language. However, we 
reported that DOD does not define how it intends to measure the total 
force's understanding of language and regional expertise or provide a 
time frame for achieving the objective. In the absence of measurable 
objectives, DOD officials assessed progress toward goals and 
objectives by tracking the number of associated roadmap tasks that 
they consider to be fully operational, meaning DOD's Senior Language 
Authority had determined the intent of the task had been met. However, 
this approach focused solely on the achievement of specific tasks 
rather than the extent to which the outcome of these tasks reflected 
progress toward language and regional proficiency transformation 
goals. We also reported that DOD considered a task fully operational 
before the task was complete, which further complicated DOD's ability 
to measure progress toward goals and objectives. For example, DOD 
considered the roadmap task that assigned responsibility to the 
Secretary of the Army to create courses for emerging language needs to 
be fully operational because a plan to build these courses had been 
developed. However, at the time, the Army had not yet established the 
courses and DOD did not continue to formally track the Army's efforts. 

* DOD had also not identified the resources required to implement the 
tasks in the roadmap or linked the roadmap to its funding requests. In 
short, the roadmap did not contain any funding information; therefore, 
DOD had not identified the total cost of its transformation effort. In 
its annual budget requests, DOD had requested funding for 22 major 
language and regional proficiency programs that it considered to be 
priorities, as reflected in what it calls the Defense Language Program 
of Record. However, the two documents were not clearly linked; 
therefore we were unable to determine how the 22 programs related to 
the tasks and activities outlined in the roadmap. 

At the time of our work, DOD recognized that the roadmap was not a 
true strategic plan, and that the department had reached a point with 
its transformation efforts where such a plan was needed. 

In the absence of a comprehensive strategic plan that includes 
measurable performance goals and objectives, funding priorities linked 
to goals, and accountability for achieving results, we concluded it 
would be difficult for DOD to guide the military services as they 
develop and implement their strategies, and supporting programs and 
activities, and also to ensure these efforts were synchronized and 
consistent with departmentwide goals. Furthermore, for both the 
department and Congress, the lack of a comprehensive plan would make 
it difficult to develop or evaluate funding requests, respectively, 
and assess progress towards achieving successful transformation of 
language and regional proficiency capabilities. Therefore, we 
recommended that DOD develop a strategic plan with all the key 
elements I have mentioned. In its comments, DOD agreed and stated that 
it planned to complete a strategic plan by September 2009, which it 
referred to as the Defense Language and Regional Program Strategic 
Plan for 2010-2015. Our latest information from DOD officials, as of 
this month, is that the plan has been drafted and is undergoing final 
review and approval. They expect to publish the plan later this year 
and told us it will include elements such as performance goals, 
objectives, and funding priorities linked to goals. They stated that 
an implementation plan with metrics to measure progress will be 
published at a later date. While a specific milestone has not been 
established, it will be important that DOD complete this action 
quickly. 

DOD Has Not Fully Developed the Information It Needs to Identify Gaps 
in Language and Regional Proficiency and Assess Risk: 

In addition to a comprehensive strategic plan, it is important for DOD 
to have complete information on the current level of language and 
regional proficiency within its forces as well as the requirements for 
these capabilities. With this knowledge, the department can identify 
gaps and assess risks. Risk assessment helps decision makers identify 
and evaluate potential risks so that alternatives can be designed and 
implemented to mitigate that risk. It also allows them to prioritize 
needs and allocate resources based on such factors as strategic, 
operational, and financial considerations. At the time of our June 
2009 report, DOD had efforts underway to gather inventory data and 
define requirements, but did not yet have complete information. Since 
then, DOD has made some progress in each of these areas. 

Availability of Inventory Data on Language and Regional Proficiency 
within DOD: 

At the time of our June 2009 report, DOD was in the process of 
developing a strategic management tool called the Language Readiness 
Index. Once fully operational, DOD expects this tool to contain 
inventory and requirements data on the language and regional 
proficiency capabilities of military, civilian, and contractor 
personnel. By matching the inventory and requirements data, DOD 
intends to be able to determine potential gaps in capabilities and 
assess risk to its ability to conduct current military operations as 
well as potential future military operations. At the time of our prior 
report, DOD had obtained information on military personnel language 
skills through a combination of testing, referred to as the Defense 
Language Proficiency Test, and through service members voluntarily 
sharing or "self reporting" information in personnel records. This 
information, which includes the name of the foreign language and the 
skill level--as measured on a scale from 0 (no proficiency) to 5 
(educated native proficiency)--with respect to speaking, listening, 
and reading, had been incorporated into the Language Readiness Index. 
However, DOD had not yet incorporated information about the language 
skills of DOD civilians and contract linguists in the Language 
Readiness Index, but planned to do so. 

We also reported that DOD did not yet have a complete inventory of the 
regional proficiency skills of all service members or DOD civilians. 
Instead, DOD only identified and tracked those military members 
serving in specific occupations requiring a high level of regional 
proficiency, such as Foreign Area Officers.[Footnote 10] DOD guidance 
provided regional proficiency skill level guidelines--measured on a 
scale from 0 (prenovice) to 5 (expert)--intended to provide DOD 
components with benchmarks for assessing regional proficiency needs, 
developing regional proficiency curricula, and assessing DOD-wide 
regional proficiency capabilities. However, these guidelines did not 
provide measurable definitions that would allow for testing of 
particular regional proficiency levels. Unlike language proficiency 
skill levels, which have been defined and can be measured, DOD had 
found it difficult to define the elements needed to assess regional 
proficiency levels because such a definition must take into account 
knowledge and experience of historical, political, cultural, 
sociological, economic, and geographic factors across many global 
regions or specific foreign countries. Thus, DOD did not have a way to 
test or otherwise evaluate the skills of service members or DOD 
civilians in accordance with the regional proficiency guidelines in 
order to develop an inventory of regional proficiency skills. 
Furthermore, DOD had not established milestones for developing the 
ability to evaluate regional proficiency skills. 

Because DOD did not have complete information on the regional 
proficiency capabilities of its military and civilian workforce or a 
method to evaluate proficiency levels, we concluded it could not 
determine capability gaps and assess risk effectively. Furthermore, 
DOD did not have the information it needed to inform its strategic 
planning for language and regional proficiency transformation. 
Therefore, we recommended that DOD establish a mechanism to assess and 
validate the full range of regional proficiency capabilities of 
service members and DOD civilians--including the development of 
measurable definitions and milestones to achieve an assessment--and 
incorporate the information into the Language Readiness Index. 

DOD agreed with this recommendation, stating that it would provide 
definitions and other guidance by March 2010 that would enable the 
services and defense agencies to measure and determine appropriate 
regional proficiency levels. As of June 2010, DOD officials told us 
they had incorporated additional information about the language skills 
of DOD civilians in the Language Readiness Index and are examining the 
legal considerations of gathering information for contract linguists. 
However, DOD has not yet established a mechanism to assess and 
validate regional proficiency skills. DOD officials stated that they 
had recently commissioned a study and established an internal working 
group to address this issue, but they noted that defining and 
measuring regional proficiency is a difficult undertaking that has 
taken longer than originally estimated. DOD anticipates completing its 
study on regional proficiency by September 2011. 

Status of DOD's Efforts to Determine Language and Regional Proficiency 
Requirements: 

Having complete inventory data is important, but equally important is 
the need to match this inventory to valid requirements. In June 2009, 
we reported that DOD had developed a process to enable combatant 
commanders, the military services, and other organizations to submit 
their language and regional proficiency requirements. They were to 
identify information such as the level of the language proficiency 
needed, level of the regional proficiency needed, the occupational 
specialty needed, the desired number, and the desired source for 
filling the need. Although DOD outlined this process, it did not 
require the organizations to use a particular methodology for 
identifying this information, instead leaving it to the discretion of 
the organizations as to how they determined their requirements. In the 
absence of a validated methodology, estimates of requirements differed 
widely, especially by the combatant commands. For example, as of 
February 2008, the requirements of U.S. Pacific Command outnumbered 
the requirements of all other combatant commands combined. This 
variance occurred primarily because U.S. Pacific Command had included 
low-level language and regional proficiency requirements associated 
with general purpose forces, such as language or regional proficiency 
skills at proficiency levels 0 or 1, while others did not. 

Without a validated methodology that was consistently applied by all 
organizations, DOD did not have a reliable means to identify language 
and regional proficiency requirements. Therefore, we recommended that 
DOD develop a transparent, validated methodology to aid in the 
identification of language and regional proficiency requirements and 
that its scope should include all communities, such as general purpose 
forces, human-intelligence collectors, signal-intelligence analysis, 
Foreign Area Officers, and DOD civilians, and all proficiency levels 
from the lowest levels to the highest levels. DOD agreed with this 
recommendation, noting that it planned to complete two assessments by 
November 2009 that would identify a validated process to prioritize 
and refine DOD's foreign language and regional expertise requirements 
and produce a standardized methodology to measure risk of identified 
gaps and shortfalls. At that time, DOD noted that given the 90-day 
window it had established to conduct these assessments, the scope of 
the assessment would be narrower than what our recommendation called 
for. As of June 2010, DOD officials told us these assessments were 
completed and that the results were used to develop a validated 
methodology for determining language and regional proficiency 
requirements. Once approved by senior leaders--estimated to occur 
later this year--officials stated the methodology will be codified in 
DOD guidance and that the Joint Staff would provide training to the 
combatant commands on how to apply it. Officials stated that it would 
then take an additional several months for the combatant commands to 
determine the language and regional proficiency capability 
requirements. Because it is not yet approved, we have been unable to 
review or assess the methodology. 

Concluding Observations: 

To respond to the evolving security environment, DOD conducts a set of 
complex and wide-ranging missions, such as irregular warfare, 
counterinsurgency, stability operations, and nonwarfighting 
activities. DOD has acknowledged the need to build and maintain 
certain fundamental capabilities, such as language and regional 
proficiency capabilities, which the department has deemed critical to 
success in these operations. Accordingly, DOD and the military 
services have undertaken various initiatives aimed at transforming 
language and regional proficiency capabilities. However, DOD has not 
yet produced a comprehensive strategic plan to guide and synchronize 
these efforts, including aligning service-level strategies with 
departmentwide goals, and it does not yet have complete inventory and 
requirements data needed to properly assess gaps and risks. As a 
result, DOD is not in a sound position to determine the appropriate 
scope and nature of its efforts to achieve desired goals, measure 
progress, and make informed investment decisions. As DOD completes its 
efforts to develop a strategic plan and capture complete language and 
regional proficiency and inventory and requirements data, it is 
essential that the department and the military services review and 
make necessary adjustments to their approaches and ensure that future 
funding requests are aligned accordingly. 

Mr. Chairman this concludes my statement. I look forward to answering 
any questions that you or other members of the subcommittee may have 
at this time. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For further information on this testimony, please contact Sharon 
Pickup at (202) 512-9619 or at pickups@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this statement. Individuals making key contributions 
to this testimony include Patricia Lentini, Assistant Director; Edward 
Anderson; Gabrielle Carrington; Nicole Harms; Susan Langley; Terry 
Richardson; Rebecca Rygg; Matthew Ullengren; and Chris Watson. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] DOD uses various terms such as "regional proficiency," "regional 
expertise," "cultural awareness," and "cultural expertise" to refer to 
acquiring knowledge and skills to familiarize U.S. forces with 
customs, traditions, and political, social, and economic conditions 
and other aspects of foreign countries and regions. For the purposes 
of this report, we are using the term "regional proficiency" to 
encompass all of these terms, including cultural awareness. 

[2] U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, 
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Building Language Skills 
and Cultural Competencies in the Military: DOD's Challenges in Today's 
Educational Environment (November 2008). 

[3] See GAO, Defense Management: Preliminary Observations on DOD's 
Language and Cultural Awareness Capabilities, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-176R] (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 25, 
2008), and Military Training: DOD Needs a Strategic Plan and Better 
Inventory and Requirements Data to Guide Development of Language 
Skills and Regional Proficiency, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-568] (Washington, D.C.: June 19, 
2009). 

[4] H.R. Rep. No. 111-491 at 259 (2010), which accompanied H.R. 5136. 

[5] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-568]. 

[6] The Defense Language Steering Committee includes representatives 
from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; the 
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; the Office 
of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller); Office of the Under 
Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; the Office of 
the Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation; the combatant commands; 
the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Army, 
Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force; the Defense Intelligence Agency; 
the Defense Security Cooperation Agency; the Defense Threat Reduction 
Agency; the National Security Agency; and the National Geospatial 
Intelligence Agency. 

[7] The Director of the Defense Language Office, within the Office of 
the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, has been 
designated as the DOD Senior Language Authority. 

[8] In addition to these goals and objectives, the Defense Language 
Transformation Roadmap contains five separate objectives specifically 
for the transformation of the Defense Language Institute Foreign 
Language Center. This center provides DOD-wide foreign language 
education, training, evaluation, and proficiency enhancement. 

[9] See, for example, GAO, Status of Department of Defense Efforts to 
Develop a Management Approach to Guide Business Transformations, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-272R] (Washington, 
D.C.: Jan. 9, 2009); Defense Business Transformation: A Full-time 
Chief Management Officer with a Term Appointment Is Needed at DOD to 
Maintain Continuity of Effort and Achieve Sustainable Success, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-132T] (Washington, DC.: 
Oct. 16, 2007); Defense Business Transformation: Achieving Success 
Requires a Chief Management Officer to Provide Focus and Sustained 
Leadership, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-1072] 
(Washington, D.C.: Sept. 5, 2007). 

[10] According to DOD, Foreign Area Officers are commissioned officers 
who, in addition to their primary military specialty, also possess a 
combination of strategic focus, regional expertise, cultural 
awareness, and foreign language skill. 

[End of section] 

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