Members of most U.S. military services are learning Arabic to facilitate engagement with the Iraqi population.
Thousands of U.S. military personnel have been taking instructions in
Arabic to overcome the critical language barrier that has thwarted U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq. The goal is to
have an Arabic speaker in every single combat unit in Iraq.
Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee said the Arabic instruction provided by
his service has been accompanied by rigorous urban combat training in Iraq.
Hagee said that so far more than 400 marines have received Arabic language
A shortage of Arabic speakers was reported in every arm of the
American military and government involved in Iraq last year, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the CIA
and other agencies have outsourced a considerable amount of material to
Arabic translators as well as employed retired Arabic-speaking government
Officials said Arabic instruction has been part of the preparation for
the rotation of troops in Iraq and efforts to ensure more effective
operations. They said the Arabic training has also prepared soldiers for
temporary duties in military intelligence and the CIA.
Hagee told the House Armed Services Committee on Jan. 28 that the
marines have been heavily engaged in the Middle East region, particularly
in Iraq. He said 70,000 marines and sailors from the 1st Marine
Force were deployed in Iraq in fewer than 60 days in early 2003.
"Exploiting the operational speed, reach and inherent flexibility of sea
power, the Navy and Marine Corps ø closely integrated with joint and
coalition, and special operations ø engaged in 26 days of sustained combat
operations, fought 10 major engagements, destroyed eight Iraqi divisions
before stopping in Tikrit almost 500 miles inland," Agee said.