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Desperate for officers who speak Arabic, Mandarin and other foreign languages, the U.S. Army is doling out monthly stipends to entice ROTC cadets in college to learn languages spoken in hot spots around the globe, USA Today reported Tuesday.

ROTC is offering $100 to $250 per month to recruits in the officer-training program who are willing to learn the languages spoken in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions vital to national security, the paper reported, noting that the Army launched the program because too few troops speak the local language overseas.

The incentive comes on top of partial scholarships to full tuition given to ROTC cadets, according to USA Today.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has expressed concern about the number of troops proficient in languages, the paper noted. Language bonuses go to 17,000 troops, about 1 percent of the Pentagon’s 1.3 million personnel.

Thomas Edmonds, 20, a junior at Texas A&M, gets $150 a month for taking Arabic.

"The extra money is nice," Edmonds told USA Today. "But in the end, my motivation is practical. There is a pretty good chance I’ll end up sometime in my career in part of the world where Arabic is spoken. My ability to connect will make me a better officer."


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