By Paul Carter
Utahns' Language Skills at Terrorism's Front Lines
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Denver Post reports today that a
little-known National Guard unit based near Salt Lake City is likely
very much involved in assisting in the war against terrorism.
Cited by the Post article as "the nation's pre-eminent military
linguistic team," the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade has been
deployed in previous assignments to Bosnia, Thailand, and Kosovo.
It is expected that this unit is contributing significant linguistic
resources to aid the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, and the National Security Agency in their massive
investigation of the September 11th terrorist attacks, as well as
supporting the uniformed services operating overseas.
While Defense Department officials refused comment regarding any
current involvement of the 300th, a spokesman for the Utah National
Guard, Lt. Colonel Craig Morgan, stated, "Most of the missions that
they are involved in are classified missions. That's all that we can
A previous commander of the unit from 1988 to 1990, Douglas Borba,
describes how the 300th was strong in the languages of Spanish,
German, Japanese, and Chinese during his command. During the Gulf
War however, an intensive effort was made to increase the unit's
capabilities in Arabic and Farsi.
With the current terrorism investigation in mind and speaking of the
members of the 300th, Ray Clifford, Chancellor of the Defense
Language Institute Foreign Language Center, is quoted at saying, "I
would imagine that they're quite involved and that every linguist
with Arabic or Farsi skills is very busy right now." The Defense
Language Institute is located in Monterey California and has trained
many of the 300th's members. The Institute usually has 3,000
students, mostly US military and other federal employees, and at
present employs approximately 170 instructors in Arabic.
The Denver Post also comments on the language training efforts of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, referring to 48
languages taught in training programs for departing church
missionaries. Mr. Borba mentions that, during his command, the
300th Brigade actively recruited former LDS missionaries who have
enrolled at Brigham Young University. He states, "The university was
a fertile ground for recruiting. The thought was that (the students)
are smart, reliable and good at keeping a job."
The LDS language training program does not include Arabic languages
and generally there are no missionary efforts in Muslim countries.
The article notes that recruitment of LDS returned missionaries is
based on an assumption that an ability to learn one foreign language
likely reflects a propensity to learn other languages.
Utah Guard unit likely on linguistic front line
The Denver Post 10Oct01
by Susan Greene: Denver Post Staff Writer