Defense Language Institute to set up training unit in Europe
January 12, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany — It is an office of one for now, but instructors and more resources will soon be on the way as the military looks to ramp up foreign language training for Europe-based troops.
The Defense Language Institute has launched for the first time a Europe detachment in an effort to expand training opportunities for troops stationed across the U.S. European Command, according to the director of DLI’s satellite office in Stuttgart.
“You can talk about it all you want, but if you don’t have a place to conduct high-level training, there’s no motivation to be a part of that,” said Daniel Regelbrugge, who is leading the Defense Language Institute’s effort from Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart.
Regelbrugge is in talks with officials at EUCOM and U.S. Africa Command to get language centers established at their respective headquarters. Full-time instructors also are on the way, though it is too early to say how many or in what language specialties, Regelbrugge said.
Since his arrival in October, Regelbrugge has been assessing the language needs of Europe-based units. So far, there has been a demand for everything from French and Russian to Somali, Swahili, Arabic and Pashto. For the time being, Regelbrugge will serve as a conduit, taking requests and fielding teachers on a rotational basis from DLI’s headquarters in Monterey, Calif. As the needs of the commands become clearer, teachers and other learning centers could sprout up, Regelbrugge said.
In addition to programs geared toward linguists and high-level specialists, DLI also is focused on getting more basic instruction to Afghanistan-bound troops with no background in languages such as Pashto and Dari.
“If you give somebody the power to express a thought, maybe you don’t have to use force,” said Regelbrugge on the value of language learning. “Now is the time to do this. Getting the company or brigade to buy into it is the key.”
While it is an Army requirement for deploying units to receive language instruction, it doesn’t always happen, officials say. And in Europe, it has been somewhat more challenging to get language training requirements fulfilled for all deploying units.
“Now that we have DLI over here it adds a tremendous plus for us,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mike Biley, theater language program director for U.S. Army Europe. “It makes everything a little more formal.”
Regelbrugge said the DLI initiative won’t replace existing language programs in Europe, but will supplement those efforts.
“Why has it taken so long to get here? I don’t know. But we’re here now.”