oversight

Military Training: Strategic Planning and Distributive Learning Could Benefit the Special Operations Forces Foreign Language Program

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-09-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to Congressional Committees




September 2003
                 MILITARY TRAINING
                 Strategic Planning and
                 Distributive Learning
                 Could Benefit the
                 Special Operations
                 Forces Foreign
                 Language Program




GAO-03-1026 

                                                September 2003


                                                MILITARY TRAINING

                                                Strategic Planning and 

Highlights of GAO-03-1026, a report to the      Distributive Learning Could Benefit the 

Senate and House Committees on Armed
Services                                        Special Operations Forces Foreign 

                                                Language Program 



Of the 44,000 special operations                Recent actions taken by the U.S. Special Operations Command are
forces (SOF) that perform difficult,            starting to address some long-standing problems with the management of
complex, and sensitive military                 the SOF foreign language program and the delivery of language training.
missions on short notice anytime                In September 2002, the command consolidated all training under a single
and anywhere in the world, more                 contractor to provide a universal, standardized curriculum and a range of
than 12,000 (28 percent) have a
foreign language requirement to
                                                delivery mechanisms for Army, Navy, and Air Force SOF components.
operate in places where English is              Initial assessments suggest that the contractor’s offerings are meeting
not spoken. In the Senate Report                contract expectations. In other actions, the program is completing an
on the Fiscal Year 2003 National                overdue assessment of SOF language requirements, developing a database
Defense Authorization Act,                      of language proficiencies and training, and finding ways to take advantage
Congress mandated that GAO                      of other national language-training assets. While promising, these ongoing
review SOF foreign language                     actions are taking place without the benefit of a cohesive management
requirements and training. In                   framework incorporating a strategy and strategic planning to guide,
this report, we (1) assess the                  integrate, and monitor its activities. Without such a framework, the program
U.S. Special Operations                         risks losing its current momentum and failing to meet new language-training
Command’s recent actions to                     needs that SOF personnel are likely to acquire as they take on expanded
improve the management of the
SOF foreign language program
                                                roles in combating terrorism and other military operations.
and the delivery of training, and
(2) identify ways for the command               The SOF foreign language program continues to face challenges, such as
to deal with ongoing challenges                 more frequent and longer deployments, that limit personnel’s access to
that limit SOF personnel’s access               language training. Army Reserve and National Guard SOF members face
to language-training opportunities.             additional difficulties in gaining access to centrally located training
                                                because of geographical dispersion and part-time status; they also have
                                                lower monetary incentives to acquire language proficiencies and fewer
                                                training opportunities. As a result, most SOF personnel have been unable
To improve the management and
delivery of language training, GAO              to take needed training or required tests to qualify in their respective
is recommending that the Secretary              language(s). To address these challenges, program officials are looking
of Defense direct the U.S. Special              into distance/distributive-learning approaches, which offer “anytime,
Operations Command to (1) adopt                 anywhere” training that would be highly adaptable to SOF personnel needs,
a strategy and strategic planning               but they are still at an early stage in their evaluations.
and (2) incorporate distributive-
learning approaches. GAO also                   Number of SOF Personnel Requiring Language Skills
recommends that the Secretary
evaluate proficiency pay incentives
and pay and allowance funding for
SOF reserve and guard members
and options for oral testing. The
Department of Defense agreed with
all but one recommendation,
stating that it could not adopt a
strategy until it was properly
reviewed and approved.
www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-1026.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Neal Curtin at
(757) 552-8100 or curtinn@gao.gov.
Contents 



Letter                                                                                    1
                 Results in Brief 
                                                       2
                 Background
                                                              4
                 Program Addresses Some Long-Standing Problems but 

                   Lacks a Strategic Planning Approach                                    9
                 Approach Needed to Improve Access to Language-Training
                   Resources                                                            16
                 Conclusions                                                            24
                 Recommendations for Executive Action                                   26
                 Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                     26

Appendix I       Scope and Methodology                                                  28



Appendix II      Language Proficiency Levels and Requirements                           32



Appendix III 	   Status of the Language Services Contract between
                 the U.S. Special Operations Command and
                 B.I.B. Consultants                                                     35



Appendix IV      Comments from the Department of Defense                                41



Appendix V       GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                  44



Tables
                 Table 1: Special Operations Forces Personnel Requiring Foreign
                          Language Proficiency, by Service Component                      7
                 Table 2: Number of Special Operations Forces Personnel Needing
                          Language Training for Quarter Ending March 31, 2003           19
                 Table 3: Personnel Meeting Language Proficiency Requirement
                          from Quarters Ending September 2002 through June 2003         20
                 Table 4: Continuum of Learning Methods                                 23
                 Table 5: Organizations and Offices Contacted during Our Review         28
                 Table 6: Foreign Language Capabilities at Proficiency Levels           33


                 Page i                                       GAO-03-1026 Military Training
         Table 7: U.S. Special Operations Command Proficiency Standards
                  for Service Components                                                           34
         Table 8: Foreign Language Training Provided by B.I.B. Consultants
                  Contract                                                                         35
         Table 9: Student Evaluations Responses from Some Initial
                  Acquisition SOF Language Classes at the U.S. Army
                  John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School,
                  Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during the First Quarter of
                  200338
         Table 10: Student Evaluations Responses from Initial Acquisition
                  SOF Language Classes at Naval Special Warfare
                  Command, Group I, Coronado, California, during the
                  Second Quarter of 2003                                                           40


Figure
         Figure 1: Student Proficiency Score Results for Listening and
                  Reading for Initial Acquisition Language Courses at the
                  Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center
                  and School for the First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2003                             37




         Abbreviations

         DOD               Department of Defense 

         SCOLA             Satellite Communications for Learning 

         SOF               special operations forces 

         SOFLO             Special Operations Forces Language Office 



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         Page ii                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   September 30, 2003 


                                   The Honorable John W. Warner 

                                   Chairman 

                                   The Honorable Carl Levin 

                                   Ranking Minority Member 

                                   Committee on Armed Services 

                                   United States Senate 


                                   The Honorable Duncan Hunter 

                                   Chairman 

                                   The Honorable Ike Skelton 

                                   Ranking Minority Member 

                                   Committee on Armed Services 

                                   House of Representatives 


                                   As they have recently demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq, special 

                                   operations forces (SOF) are playing an increasingly significant role in 

                                   U.S. military operations by performing extremely difficult, complex, and

                                   politically sensitive missions on short notice anytime and anywhere in the 

                                   world. To successfully conduct these missions, SOF personnel must 

                                   undergo extensive training—often years in duration—to acquire a wide 

                                   variety of military skills, among them a proficiency in a foreign language. 

                                   More than one-fourth of all SOF military personnel, or about 12,000 out 

                                   of 44,000, have a foreign language requirement in order to enable them to 

                                   operate effectively in countries where languages other than English 

                                   are spoken.


                                   To meet its specific language training needs, the U.S. Special Operations 

                                   Command1 (the command) established a separate foreign language 





                                   1
                                    The U.S. Special Operations Command, located at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., is one
                                   of nine unified commands in the U.S. military’s combatant command structure and is
                                   responsible for all special operations forces. The command’s organization includes three
                                   service component commands: the U.S Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg,
                                   N.C.; the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, Coronado, Calif.; and the U.S. Air Force
                                   Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.



                                   Page 1                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                     program within the Department of Defense (DOD) in the early 1990s.2 The
                     command delegated the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as its
                     proponent for foreign language matters and, in turn, the Army command
                     set up the Special Operations Forces Language Office (SOFLO) to oversee
                     and manage the SOF foreign language program. The program prescribes
                     the policies for all aspects of the program, including its funding; reporting;
                     and delivery of initial acquisition, sustainment, and enhancement training
                     for SOF forces in the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

                     The Senate Report on the Fiscal Year 2003 National Defense Authorization
                     Act3 mandated that we review the foreign language requirements and
                     training for SOF personnel. In December 2002 and April 2003, we
                     briefed your offices on the initial results of our review. In this report, we
                     (1) assess recent actions taken by the U.S. Special Operations Command
                     to improve the management and delivery of its foreign language training
                     to special operations forces personnel and (2) identify ways for the
                     command to deal with challenges that limit accessibility to its foreign
                     language-training resources.

                     We conducted our review from October 2002 through July 2003 in
                     accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
                     Our scope and methodology are described in appendix I.


                     Recent actions taken by the U.S. Special Operations Command are
Results in Brief 
   beginning to address some long-standing problems that have affected
                     the management of the foreign language program and the delivery of its
                     training. However, these actions are being taken without the benefit of a
                     cohesive management framework that could foster continued program
                     improvements. In September 2002, the command consolidated all of its
                     language training under a single contractor to reduce problems with
                     multiple contractors and inconsistencies in the type, quality, and



                     2
                      Most DOD personnel acquire their foreign language training through the Defense Foreign
                     Language Program. The Department of the Army, the program’s executive agent, manages
                     and oversees the program. The Defense Language Institute is the primary educational
                     facility for DOD’s language training. While the SOF foreign language program provides
                     most of its training separately from the Defense Foreign Language Program, the SOF
                     program can use DOD and other government-language-training resources to fulfill its
                     needs.
                     3
                      U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, National Defense Authorization Act for
                     Fiscal Year 2003 Report, Senate Report 107-151 (Washington, D.C.: 2002).




                     Page 2                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
acquisition of training. The new contract is expected to offer the
program a universal, standardized training curriculum; a range of
delivery mechanisms; and the consistent monitoring of student and
teacher performance. An initial quarterly review by the command in
March 2003 and our analysis of student performance data suggest that the
contractor’s offerings are meeting the expectations set out in the contract,
such as students’ achievement of proficiency goals. In other actions,
the program is (1) completing a long overdue assessment of language
requirements; (2) expanding its communication and coordination between
the Army, Navy, and Air Force SOF offices that use its training and with
other language resource stakeholders; (3) developing a database to
track foreign language proficiencies and training across the services;
and (4) examining ways to take better advantage of other national
language-training resources (e.g., the Defense Language Institute).
While promising, these actions are being taken without the advantage of
a cohesive management framework that incorporates strategic planning
(a strategy and a strategic plan with an associated performance plan
and reports) that could guide the program, integrate its activities, and
monitor its performance. The command has drafted a strategy for
meeting its foreign language requirements—a first step in developing this
framework—but it has not yet approved it. Without such a framework, the
program risks losing its current momentum, and it may be unable to meet
the new language-training needs that SOF personnel are likely to have as
they take on expanded roles and responsibilities in counterterrorism and
other military operations.

The SOF foreign language program continues to face ongoing
challenges that limit the access that special operations forces have
to language-training opportunities, but it is beginning to seek ways to
resolve these. More frequent and longer deployments and competing
priority training needs have reduced the time that both active-duty and
reserve/guard units have for language training. SOF personnel in Army
Reserve and National Guard units face further difficulties in gaining access
to centrally located language training because of their geographical
dispersion and part-time status. These part-time personnel also receive
lower monetary incentives for meeting language proficiency standards
than their active-duty counterparts, and their units do not have the pay and
allowance funds to send all of them to language training. As a result, most
SOF personnel have been unable to get the training or take the proficiency
tests they need to qualify in their respective language(s). Furthermore,
language proficiency testing by oral interview, which program officials
consider as more germane to SOF requirements, is not always available or
used to measure language proficiency for qualification. Moreover, as their


Page 3                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
               roles and responsibilities expand, SOF personnel may face further
               limitations on their access to training, although the precise impacts of
               these changes are still not clear. Although the command’s new contract
               offers some new and more flexible training options, it does not cover
               nontraditional training methods, such as distance/distributive learning,
               which can provide “anytime, anywhere” options that would be highly
               adaptable to SOF personnel training needs. Program officials are
               looking into some of these new options (e.g., regular and broadband
               Internet-based language resources and video tele-training) and the
               resources that would be needed to incorporate them into the program,
               but they are still at an early stage in their evaluations.

               We are making recommendations to improve the management and
               delivery of the SOF foreign language-training program by adopting a
               strategy and developing strategic planning tools; increase SOF personnel’s
               access to foreign language training by incorporating distance/distributive-
               learning tools into the SOF program; provide Army Reserve and National
               Guard personnel with greater monetary incentives and training advantages
               to acquire and maintain language proficiency; and provide additional
               opportunities for SOF personnel to test and qualify in their respective
               language(s) by increasing the use and availability of oral proficiency
               interview testing. In its comments on a draft of this report, DOD agreed
               with all but one recommendation. DOD did not agree with our
               recommendation to adopt a strategy and develop strategic-planning tools,
               stating that it could not adopt a SOF language strategy until it was
               properly reviewed and approved within the department. We clarified this
               recommendation to make it clear that we did not intend to circumvent the
               department’s review and approval process.


               Foreign language needs have significantly increased throughout DOD and
Background 	   the federal government with the presence of a wider range of security
               threats, the emergence of new nation states, and the globalization of the
               U.S. economy. The difficulties in maintaining sufficient foreign language
               capabilities among federal agencies and departments have been identified
               as a serious human capital problem for some time.4 The entire military
               has faced shortfalls in language capability in recent operations, such as


               4
                See hearings before the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and
               Federal Services, Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate, on The State of
               Foreign Language Capabilities in National Security and the Federal Government
               (Sept. 14 and 19, 2000).




               Page 4                                                    GAO-03-1026 Military Training
difficulties in finding sufficient numbers of qualified language speakers
during peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and combat actions in
Afghanistan. In recent reports, we have stated that shortages of staff with
foreign language skills have affected agency operations and have hindered
U.S. military, law enforcement, intelligence, counterterrorism, and
diplomatic efforts.5

The U.S. Special Operations Command faces similar challenges in
managing its SOF language training to maintain sufficient language
capability to support its missions. For example, (1) it is common for SOF
personnel to have received language training in more than three languages
during their career; (2) SOF units often operate in geographic regions
where there are numerous languages, (3) high operational demands and
force structure limitations often require SOF personnel to operate in areas
where their specific foreign language(s) are not spoken, and (4) it is
difficult to determine the right languages and personnel mix to address a
wide variety of unknown and hard-to-forecast small-scale conflicts.

The U.S. Special Operations Command established its SOF Foreign
Language Program in 1993 to provide combatant commanders with SOF
individuals and units that have the required foreign language proficiency
to meet current and future operational requirements.6 The command
designated the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, at Fort Bragg,
North Carolina, as the proponent in all matters related to training, policies,
programs, and procedures for SOF language requirements and capabilities.

In 1998, the Army Command established the Special Operations Forces
Language Office at Fort Bragg. Currently located in the command’s
training directorate, the office is responsible for providing technical
oversight and developing, coordinating, and executing foreign-language-
training strategies for active-duty, reserve, and National Guard SOF



5
 To address current and projected shortages in staff with foreign language skills, we
recommended that the Secretary of the Army develop a comprehensive strategic approach
to human capital management and workforce planning. See U.S. General Accounting
Office, Foreign Languages: Human Capital Approach Needed to Correct Staffing and
Proficiency Shortfalls, GAO-02-375 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 2002) and Foreign
Languages: Workforce Planning Could Help to Address Staffing and Proficiency
Shortfalls, GAO-02-514T (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 12, 2002).
6
 DOD Directive 3305.6, Special Operations Forces Foreign Language Policy (Jan. 4, 1993),
assigns responsibility to the Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, for
implementing special operations forces’ foreign language training and reporting.




Page 5                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
personnel within the three service components: the U.S. Army Special
Operations Command, the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, and the
U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.7 The office is also
responsible for running the Army’s SOF foreign language program.
The Navy and Air Force SOF components are responsible for managing
their own language-training programs.

The foreign language program provides training for more than 12,000 SOF
military personnel (about 28 percent of all 43,671 SOF personnel) who
are required to acquire some level of proficiency in one or more foreign
languages. Of these, about 90 percent (10,833) are in the U.S. Army Special
Operations Command; more than half of them are in Army Reserve or
National Guard units. (See table 1.) The remaining 10 percent of SOF
personnel with language needs are in the U.S. Naval Special Warfare
Command (1,128) and U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (155).8
The training consists of initial acquisition (becoming proficient in a new
language), sustainment (maintaining a proficiency), and enhancement
(raising a proficiency). It also includes a basic orientation to the customs
and cultures of world regions where their languages are used.




7
 The operational units of the SOF service components run over 100 command language
programs to provide initial, sustainment, and enhancement foreign language training for
their people.
8
 Personnel who have language requirements in active-duty U.S. Army Special Operations
Command units serve in special forces; those in Army Reserve and National Guard units
serve in civil affairs, psychological operations, and special forces; those in active-duty
U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command units serve as SEALS and in special boat units; and
those in active-duty U.S. Air Force Special Operations units function in foreign internal
defense.




Page 6                                                      GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Table 1: Special Operations Forces Personnel Requiring Foreign Language Proficiency, by Service Component

                                                                                         Require foreign language proficiency
                                                                                                                      Total number of Percentage of total
                                                                                                    Number of          SOF personnel      SOF personnel
 Service                            Total number of Number of active-                       reserve/guard SOF           with language      with language
                                                  a
 component                          SOF personnel duty SOF personnel                                 personnel           requirement        requirement
 U.S. Army Special
 Operations
 Command                                             26,804                    4,475                        6,358                10,833                       89.4
 U.S. Naval Special
 Warfare Command                                      6,360                    1,128                             0                 1,128                       9.3
 U.S. Air Force
 Special Operations
 Command                                             10,507                      155                             0                   155                       1.3
 Total                                               43,671                    5,758                        6,358                12,116                     100.0
Source: Special Operations Forces Language Office.

                                                              Note: As of September 2003.
                                                              a
                                                               The total number of SOF personnel does not include civilians. Totals also do not include a Marine
                                                              Corps detachment of 81 personnel assigned to the command. Seven of the 81 Marines have a
                                                              language requirement, but their language training does not fall under the SOF language program.


                                                              SOF personnel require foreign language skills in most of the special
                                                              operations forces’ core tasks, such as unconventional warfare,
                                                              counterterrorism, counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,
                                                              civil affairs, psychological operations, information operations, and foreign
                                                              internal defense. The command, in coordination with the organizations for
                                                              which it provides forces, determines the languages, levels of proficiencies,
                                                              and number of language-qualified personnel needed in its units through an
                                                              assessment of the operational needs of the geographic unified commands.9
                                                              Currently, SOF has requirements in more than 30 foreign languages, such
                                                              as Chinese Mandarin, Modern Arabic, Indonesian, Korean, Persian-Farsi,
                                                              Russian, and Spanish.

                                                              In contrast with other intelligence or diplomatic foreign language training,
                                                              SOF training places greater emphasis on oral communication skills
                                                              (speaking and listening) than on nonverbal skills (reading and writing) in
                                                              order to give SOF personnel the ability to communicate during operations
                                                              in the field. The level of proficiency that needs to be achieved varies by


                                                              9
                                                               Geographic unified commanders of the U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command,
                                                              U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command, and U.S. Southern Command are
                                                              responsible for the conduct of military operations in their respective world regions.




                                                              Page 7                                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
unit and mission and can range from limited skills necessary to understand
and utter certain memorized phrases for immediate survival to more
intermediate skills (e.g., the ability to deal with concrete topics in past,
present, and future tenses) necessary to meet routine social demands and
limited job requirements. For example, the Army’s Special Forces units
(active-duty and National Guard), which account for about half of the
Army personnel with a language requirement, generally need only a limited
command of the language for immediate survival needs. Personnel who
conduct psychological operations, foreign internal defense, and civil
affairs missions generally need higher proficiency skills because of their
greater contact and interaction with local civilians and military personnel.
Although higher proficiency levels are desired, language is only one, and
often not the highest, priority of the many skills that SOF personnel must
acquire and maintain to effectively conduct their missions. Appendix II
provides information on language proficiency levels and requirements.

The special operations forces foreign language program is funded directly
through the command’s annual budget.10 Funding for the program
amounted to $9.5 million and $10.2 million in fiscal years 2002 and 2003,
respectively, and it is projected to be $11.1 million in fiscal year 2004.
The command provides portions of the program’s funding to each service
component command to pay for its own respective foreign language
training activities and to SOFLO to manage the program. The program’s
funding constitutes a very small portion of the command’s annual budget,
which is projected to be about $6.7 billion in fiscal year 2004.




10
 The Nunn-Cohen Amendment to the DOD Authorization Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-661,
which created the U.S. Special Operations Command, gave the command direct control
over many of the fiscal resources necessary to pay, train, equip, and deploy special
operations forces through the establishment of a separate major force program (a major
budget category in DOD’s budget).




Page 8                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                           The command and SOFLO have taken several recent actions to begin
Program Addresses 
        addressing a number of long-standing problems in delivering and
Some Long-Standing 
       managing foreign language training to special operations forces.
                           However, these actions are being taken without the benefit of a
Problems but 
             cohesive management framework, which incorporates strategic planning
Lacks a Strategic 
        (a strategy and strategic plan with associated performance plans and
                           reports), that would guide the program, integrate its activities, and
Planning Approach 
        monitor its performance. Such an approach would help the program
                           maintain its present momentum, better manage its human capital
                           challenges, and meet the language-training needs of SOF personnel as
                           they take on new roles and responsibilities.


Recent Actions Should      The command and SOFLO are taking several actions that begin to
Begin to Strengthen SOF    strengthen the foreign-language-training program for SOF forces.
Foreign Language Program   These actions include consolidating all language training under a
                           single contractor, completing a long overdue assessment of language
                           requirements, improving communication and coordination with all
                           program stakeholders, developing a database to monitor language
                           proficiencies and training, and looking for ways to make use of other
                           foreign-language-training assets. According to a SOFLO official, these
                           actions have been initiated in part by the command’s increased attention
                           since September 11, 2001, to issues involving SOF language capabilities
                           necessary to carry out core missions.

New B.I.B. Contract        For many years, the SOF foreign-language-training program’s service
Consolidates Language      components and their units acquired language training through multiple
Training                   contractors, encompassing a variety of private companies and universities.
                           According to command officials, this practice led to inconsistencies in the
                           type and quality of training, the response to meeting new or changing
                           language requirements, and the way language training was acquired by
                           individual service components. Various contractors used different
                           instruction methods, and their training materials varied in quality.

                           In September 2002, the command awarded all of its commercial language
                           training to a single contractor, B.I.B. Consultants. Command officials
                           told us that the new 5-year contract provides for greater standardization
                           and a more consistent approach to language training and improves the
                           way language training services are acquired throughout the command.
                           Specifically, the new contract offers a universal, standardized training
                           curriculum, an ability to customize instruction to meet specific needs; a
                           way to attain language proficiencies faster; and a consistent monitoring of
                           instruction and individual performance. The contractor, a business


                           Page 9                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
franchise of Berlitz International,11 plans to use its parent’s worldwide
resources to provide SOF personnel with a variety of instruction
services (such as classroom instruction, tutoring, and total immersion
training in a live or virtual environment). Command officials also believe
that the instruction method used by the contractor offers a way for SOF
personnel to attain proficiency faster. To fully realize the benefits of the
new contract, the command has required each of its service components
and their units to use the contract to meet all their language-training
needs, except when they take advantage of other government language
resources, such as the Defense Language Institute.

Some of the B.I.B. contract costs are higher than those in previous
contracts because the command awarded the new contract on the
basis of “best value” and gave management and technical factors higher
consideration than price. A SOFLO official estimated that the annual
contract cost is currently about $5.5 million to $6 million. If this figure
remains the same each year, the total cost of the 5-year contract is
projected to be about $30 million. A SOFLO official said that the total
amount could be higher if SOF service components utilize more of the
contract’s language services. This could happen as the service components
and their units become more familiar with the contract services and as
more SOF personnel return from current deployments and are able to
access language training.12 The official also said that some costs are higher
than those in prior contracts for such language-training services as total
immersion, in which students practice a language while living in another
country or in a language-controlled isolated environment. Command
officials believe the improved quality and delivery of language training
outweigh any increased cost.

B.I.B. Consultants appears to be meeting the expectations, including
having its beginning language students meet their proficiency goals, set



11
  B.I.B. Consultants is a small business franchise of Berlitz International established in
1998. Its daily operations are located at the Berlitz Language Center, Orlando, Fla. Berlitz
International is a worldwide provider of language training and cross-cultural services to
government, private-sector industries, and nonprofit organizations. Founded in 1878, the
company has more than 450 language centers in over 60 countries and is accredited by the
American Council on Education and the Accrediting Council for Continued Education and
Training. Because of the size and complexity of its contract with the command and the
need for worldwide language training, B.I.B. has awarded a subcontract to Berlitz
International to utilize its language services.
12
 The contract has a maximum ceiling of $50 million over its 5-year life.




Page 10                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                              out in its contract with the command. At the command’s initial quarterly
                              contract review in March 2003, which covered the first 5 months of
                              implementation, command and contractor officials focused on provisions
                              in the contract and on procedural aspects, such as scheduling training,
                              providing materials, and developing contacts. Command officials brought
                              up several issues largely related to the cost and implementation of
                              immersion training, classroom requirements for instructors and materials,
                              and the delivery of tactical language training.13 On the basis of discussions
                              among attendees and our observations at the review, none of the issues
                              discussed appeared irresolvable, and most of them could be addressed by
                              improved communications and more experience in understanding and
                              executing the contract. For example, B.I.B. officials agreed to work with
                              the service components to find ways to reduce some immersion training
                              costs. A second contract review was held in August 2003.

                              According to SOFLO, each of the command’s service components is using
                              the language services provided under the B.I.B. contract, and the results
                              from some initial acquisition classes indicate that students are achieving
                              most of the proficiency goals. A B.I.B. contract manager told us that the
                              company believes it is successfully implementing the provisions of its
                              contract. The official said that B.I.B. Consultants and Berlitz International
                              had formed a joint team in October 2002 to manage all contract operations
                              necessary to provide the full range of training services requested by the
                              government. The official said that B.I.B. had successfully delivered the
                              services requested through July 2003 and had promptly addressed the few
                              issues (e.g., higher costs for immersion training and the quality of some
                              materials) that arose. Appendix III provides additional information on
                              the status of the contract’s implementation at the command’s service
                              components and our analysis of the preliminary results of the students’
                              performance under the new contract.

Language Requirement          In another action, the command is nearing the completion of a
Assessment Nears Completion   long-overdue assessment of its SOF foreign language requirements.
                              The assessment is based on the operational requirements identified by
                              the command in conjunction with the geographic unified commanders.
                              It validates the languages, proficiency levels, and number of positions in
                              each SOF unit that are needed to conduct special operations missions.



                              13
                                Tactical language training covers instruction in foreign language translations of specific
                              military and technical words/terms used by SOF personnel in conducting missions. Such
                              training is not a requirement of the B.I.B. contract.




                              Page 11                                                      GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                             The assessment is used by the SOF service components and SOFLO
                             to determine future language-training requirements. Although such
                             assessments are supposed to be conducted at least every 2 years, this is
                             the first commandwide assessment since 1997. Command officials expect
                             the assessment to be approved by the fall of 2003.

Communications and           SOFLO is in the process of expanding its communications and
Coordination with Other      coordination with all of the stakeholders that are involved in delivering
Stakeholders Is Increasing   language training to SOF personnel. According to officials at the Navy
                             and Air Force SOF components, the Defense Language Institute, and
                             DOD headquarters, SOFLO officials have recently increased their
                             contacts and visits with them to discuss language issues and ways to
                             improve coordination.

                             In addition, in December 2002, SOFLO reinstituted an annual language
                             conference, which had not been held since 1997, that is designed to
                             serve as a forum where SOF language issues can be discussed and
                             resolved. Conference attendees included command representatives from
                             headquarters and the service components and guests from the intelligence,
                             academic, and other language-using communities who were invited to gain
                             an appreciation of the differences between SOF requirements and other
                             DOD language organizations and obtain their perspectives. SOFLO held
                             another conference in August 2003.

                             SOFLO also has recently developed an Internet-based Web site to provide
                             information on SOF language training, including schedules of courses and
                             other training opportunities; links to the latest directives, policies, and
                             procedures; training help-aids; points of contacts; upcoming events; and
                             information about the B.I.B. contract and other language resources.
                             Although some difficulties remain with providing all SOF personnel with
                             full access to the Web site, a SOFLO official told us that the Web site
                             should help increase the program’s visibility and provide information
                             about the command’s language training.

                             Several Navy, Air Force, and command officials we talked with said that,
                             over the years, SOFLO’s attention has focused largely on Army SOF
                             language issues and has paid less attention to the Navy and Air Force
                             language programs. These officials said that SOFLO’s recent efforts to
                             increase its visits and contacts, hold an annual conference, and develop
                             other communication tools should help to bring more balance and an
                             increased “joint” focus to the program. Also, Defense Language Institute
                             officials stated that the increased contacts between their organization and



                             Page 12                                          GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                     SOFLO would allow the institute to better understand SOF language needs
                                     and determine how it could best support the program.

New Database Is Being                SOFLO is developing a central, standardized database to capture
Developed to Improve                 information on the language training and proficiency status of SOF
Tracking of Language Training        personnel and to assess language capabilities across the services. A
and Readiness                        SOFLO official said that full implementation of the database is critical
                                     because there is currently no centralized commandwide system to track
                                     or access information related to language readiness or training. Service
                                     components and their units will be responsible for updating their portion
                                     of the data each quarter. In the future, SOFLO plans to develop a
                                     Web-based, data-entry capability to make updating easier and more
                                     user friendly.

Program Explores Use of Other        While most language-training needs are met by the new B.I.B. contract,
National Language Assets             SOFLO is exploring ways to expand its use of other national language
                                     resources to complement and provide additional support for its program.
                                     Such language assets can offer training and technology capabilities that
                                     are not available in the SOF program, include the following:

                                •	  The Defense Language Institute, which is DOD’s primary source of
                                    language instruction, has developed tactical language help-aids
                                    (e.g., pocket cards with key phases and words) that can be used to support
                                    language needs during military operations. The institute also provides
                                    real-time video language instruction for many military facilities around the
                                    world and is developing other distance/distributive-learning capabilities.
                                    Several SOF unit personnel told us that they value the institute’s resident
                                    training and would attend if their time allowed it.
                                • 	 The Satellite Communications for Learning (SCOLA) broadcast network’s14
                                    programming provides access to most world languages, including less
                                    common languages that are not often taught in the United States. By
                                    watching and listening, students are able to actually experience the foreign
                                    culture and develop their language skills in a native real-life environment.
                                    The broadcasts also provide significant insight into the internal events of
                                    the various countries. The SOF unit personnel we spoke with said that the
                                    network helps students sustain language skills, learn dialects, and improve
                                    cross-cultural understanding. SCOLA officials told us that over the next
                                    5 years, they plan to increase the programming, provide Internet delivery


                                     14
                                      SCOLA is a nonprofit broadcast network based in McClelland, Iowa, that provides
                                     real-time transmission of copyright-free foreign news and cultural programming in over
                                     40 languages from about 60 countries via satellite.




                                     Page 13                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                               of services, improve their infrastructure to better respond to special
                               program requests, and develop on-demand digital video archiving of
                               past programs.
                           •   The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing new
                               technologies to improve language translation capabilities. These
                               include hand-held devices that provide limited real-time, face-to-face
                               speech translation in the field. These devices initially were developed
                               for users involved in medical first-response, force-protection, and
                               refugee-reunification missions. SOF personnel used some of these
                               devices during the recent Afghanistan operations. While not a substitute
                               for individual language skills, these new technologies help bridge some
                               language gaps in the field.


SOF Language 
                 While these ongoing actions begin to improve and strengthen the foreign
Program Lacks Cohesive 
       language program, SOFLO is implementing them without the benefit of a
Strategic Planning 
           cohesive management framework that incorporates strategic planning
                               (a strategy and strategic plan with associated performance plan and
                               reports). According to a command directive, SOFLO is responsible for
                               developing a long-range SOF language acquisition strategy.15 Although
                               SOFLO has drafted a document outlining a strategy, this has not yet been
                               approved. A SOFLO official told us that the strategy is expected to be
                               issued by the end of 2003.

                               Strategic planning is essential for this type of program because it provides
                               the tools for applying good management practices. Such tools include a
                               statement of the program’s results-oriented goals and objectives, the
                               strategy it will use to achieve those goals and objectives, including key
                               milestones and priorities, and the measurements (both quantitative and
                               qualitative) that it will use to monitor and report on its progress, identify
                               necessary corrective actions, and better manage risk. These tools also
                               provide a mechanism to better align, establish clear linkages, and assign
                               roles and responsibilities in the organizational structure and determine the
                               program resources needed. Such planning requires top leadership support
                               and, if done well, is continuous, involves all program stakeholders, and
                               provides the basis for everything an organization does each day to support
                               the achievement of its goals and objectives.



                               15
                                U.S. Special Operations Command Directive 350-10, Special Operations Forces Foreign 

                               Language Program (Nov. 14, 2001). This directive superseded the directive dated 

                               April 7, 1998, which also called for development of a long range SOF language strategy. 





                               Page 14                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Using strategic planning for SOF’s foreign language program would also
be consistent with the general management principles set forth in the
Government Performance and Results Act of 1993,16 which is the primary
legislative framework for strategic planning in the federal government. In
our prior reports and guidance, we have also emphasized the importance
of integrating human capital considerations into strategic planning to
more effectively plan and manage people’s needs and to address future
workforce challenges, such as investments in training and developing
people.17 We recently released an exposure draft that outlines a framework
consisting of a set of principles and key questions that federal agencies
can use to ensure that their training and development investments are
targeted strategically.18 Additionally, the Office of the Secretary of Defense,
in recognition of the need for a more strategic approach to human capital
planning, published the Military Personnel Human Resources Strategic
Plan in April 2002 to establish military personnel priorities for the next
several years.

Strategic planning—a strategy and strategic plan with an associated
performance plan and reports—would ensure that good management
principles are being used to manage the program and achieve the
results-oriented goals and objectives established for the program. Aligning
this planning with DOD’s overall human capital strategy would further
ensure that the pervasive human capital challenges facing the SOF foreign
language program are considered in the broader context of overall DOD
military personnel priorities. Without such a cohesive management
framework, the program may lose its current momentum, and it may be
unable to meet the new language-training needs that SOF personnel are
likely to have as they take on expanded roles and responsibilities in
counterterrorism and other military operations.



16
 Pub. L. No. 103-62, Aug. 3, 1993. 

17
  We have issued several reports and guidance on strategic human capital management: 

U.S. General Accounting Office, High Risk Series: An Update, GAO-01-263

(Washington, D.C.: January 2001); Human Capital: Major Human Capital Challenges at 

the Departments of Defense and State, GAO-01-565T (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 2001); 

Human Capital: A Self-Assessment Checklist for Agency Leaders, GAO/OGC-00-14G

(Washington, D.C.: September 2000) and Military Personnel: Oversight Process Needed to 

Help Maintain Momentum of DOD’s Strategic Human Capital Planning, GAO-03-237

(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 5, 2002). 

18
 See U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing 

Strategic Training and Development Efforts in the Federal Government (exposure draft),

GAO-03-893G (Washington, D.C.: July 2003). 





Page 15                                                  GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                     The SOF foreign-language-training program continues to face ongoing
Approach Needed to   challenges that limit the access that special operations forces have to take
Improve Access to    advantage of language-training opportunities. These challenges include
                     more frequent and longer deployments for active-duty, reserve, and
Language-Training    guard units. In addition, Army Reserve and National Guard members face
Resources            further hurdles in getting access to training because of their geographic
                     dispersion and part-time status. These members also receive lower
                     monetary incentives for achieving required proficiencies and fewer
                     training opportunities than active-duty members. Greater reliance on
                     SOF personnel in combating terrorism may increase these challenges.
                     Recognizing the underlying problems of access, SOFLO has begun
                     looking into nontraditional training methods, such as distance/distributive-
                     learning tools, including tools that provide on-demand “anytime anywhere”
                     language training. But program officials are still at an early stage in
                     their evaluations.


Ongoing Challenges   Acquiring and maintaining a proficiency in a foreign language takes
Affect Access to     continuous practice and, because it is a highly perishable skill, it can
Language Training    deteriorate rapidly without such practice. As a result, SOF personnel
                     need to have a wide range of options to gain access to language-training
                     resources at anytime and anywhere they are stationed or deployed.

                     However, the SOF language program is facing several challenges that
                     affect accessibility to language training. In recent years, both active-duty
                     and reserve/guard SOF personnel have had less time for overall training
                     because they have been deployed more frequently and for longer periods
                     of time. In addition, when they have had time to train, their language
                     training has often competed with other higher-priority training needs, such
                     as marksmanship or nuclear-biological-chemical training. As a result, they
                     have often been unable to complete the necessary language training to
                     reach required proficiencies and to take the necessary tests to qualify in
                     their respective language(s).

                     Furthermore, Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers, who make up
                     more than half of the total number of SOF personnel requiring language
                     proficiency,19 face additional hurdles in finding time and gaining access to



                     19
                      Most of these soldiers are assigned to psychological operations and civil affairs units
                     where language proficiencies are critical because of their close and frequent interaction
                     with the local populace.




                     Page 16                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
language training. These soldiers are spread across 28 states and are often
located at long distances from their unit’s facilities, making it difficult to
get to centrally located training resources. In addition, they have fewer
days available for training because of their part-time status.

Moreover, because of their part-time status, Army Reserve and National
Guard soldiers have lower monetary incentives to undertake language
training than do active-duty personnel. According to SOFLO, active-duty
Army SOF personnel receive foreign language proficiency pay, for
example, of $100 each month if they attain a language proficiency level
of 2.20 By contrast, Army Reserve and National Guard personnel get
$13.33 each month if they attain the same proficiency because their
proficiency pay is prorated according to the number of days they train.21
Many of the more than 50 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers we
spoke with said that, despite the hurdles, they often undertake language
training on their own time because of the value they place on foreign
language skills in conducting their missions. They added that higher
proficiency pay allowances would give them more incentive to study
language and improve their proficiencies. In its May 2002 report, DOD’s
Ninth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation recommended that
the services be authorized to pay their reserve and guard members the
same monthly amount as active-duty members for maintaining proficiency
in designated critical languages in order to provide consistency in the
application of special pay between reserve and active-duty members.22




20
  At a proficiency level of 2, an individual is capable of meeting routine social demands and
limited job requirements and can deal with concrete topics in the past, present, and future
tenses. Appendix II contains a description of the levels.
21
  Foreign Language Proficiency Pay is provided to military personnel under 37 U.S.C. 316.
The law specifies that reserve personnel who are not on active duty be paid at one-thirtieth
of the monthly proficiency pay multiplied by the number of drills during a month (usually
four). Therefore, if active-duty personnel receive $100 each month for language
proficiency, reserve and guard personnel would receive $3.33 per drill ($100 divided by 30)
or $13.33 each month for four drills.
22
  The Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation is conducted every 4 years to assess
the effectiveness of military pay and benefits in recruiting and retaining a high-quality
force. See Department of Defense, Report of The Ninth Quadrennial Review of Military
Compensation (Washington, D.C.: May 17, 2002).




Page 17                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Additionally, a SOFLO official told us that current pay and allowance23
funding levels for Army Reserve and National Guard units do not allow
units to send more soldiers to language courses at the command’s
language schools and unit programs and Defense Language Institute. The
official said that this issue may become more of a concern in fiscal year
2004, when the U.S. Army Recruiting Command will no longer fund the
pay and allowance for initial-entry reserve soldiers going into civil affairs
and psychological operations positions to attend the Defense Language
Institute. The official said, however, that these proficiency pay and funding
issues are not limited to foreign language training but are broader DOD
issues that affect reserve and guard personnel throughout the military.

These access constraints have prevented large numbers of SOF
personnel from getting the necessary training (both initial and sustainment
training) and taking the annual tests that are necessary to qualify in their
language(s).24 As table 2 shows, for the quarter ending in March 2003,
more than 11,200 SOF personnel, or 93 percent of the 12,116 of those who
had a language requirement, needed to take either initial or sustainment
training.25 According to a SOFLO official, these statistics may be higher
than usual because of recent deployments to the Middle East and because
of some administrative underreporting. Earlier quarters in 2002 show that
about 75 percent of SOF personnel required training. As table 2 also
indicates, most of the training needs for Navy SOF personnel were for
initial language acquisition (83 percent of 1,128), while for Army and
Air Force SOF members, the training needs were primarily for sustainment
(85 and 64 percent, respectively).




23
  Pay and allowance is a person’s basic pay, special pay, incentive pay, basic allowance for
quarters, basic allowance for subsistence, and station per diem allowance for not more
than 90 days.
24
  These statistics are derived from SOFLO’s newly created database, and the mechanisms
for collecting the data and ensuring reliability are still being worked out.
25
 Language training data for the quarter ending in June 2003 was similar to the prior
quarter: 11,180 SOF personnel, or 92 percent of the 12,116 of those who had a language
requirement, needed to take either initial or sustainment training.




Page 18                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Table 2: Number of Special Operations Forces Personnel Needing Language Training for Quarter Ending March 31, 2003

                                                                             Personnel needing              Personnel needing                 Total personnel
                                                                                                                                a
                                                                               initial training            sustainment training               needing training
                                             Total number of
                                          personnel requiring
 Service component                            language skills                 Number        Percent             Number        Percent         Number       Percent
 U.S. Army Special
 Operations Command                                            10,833               806             7              9,240            85         10,046              93
 U.S. Naval Special
 Warfare Command                                                 1,128              935           83                   86            8           1,021             91
 U.S. Air Force Special
 Operations Command                                                   155            42           27                   99           64             141             91
 Total                                                         12,116            1,783            15               9,425            78         11,208              93
Sources: Special Operations Forces Language Office (data); GAO (analysis).

                                                                 Notes: Percentage totals may not add because of rounding.

                                                                 These statistics are derived from SOFLO’s newly created database, and the mechanisms for
                                                                 collecting the data and ensuring reliability are still being worked out.
                                                                 SOFLO also acknowledges that there may be some administrative underreporting of data.
                                                                 a
                                                                  Includes personnel that have some language background but require additional training in a new
                                                                 language because of a change in assignment or language requirement.


                                                                 In reflection of this trend, the number of SOF personnel who have taken a
                                                                 proficiency test and have qualified in their respective language(s) within
                                                                 the last 12 months is low.26 As table 3 shows, in every subsequent quarter
                                                                 since the quarter ending September 2002, less than 25 percent of all Army,
                                                                 Navy, and Air Force SOF personnel with language requirements have been
                                                                 tested within the last 12 months and have met or exceeded the required
                                                                 proficiency to qualify in their respective language(s). This percentage
                                                                 decreased in the subsequent quarters. While acknowledging some
                                                                 administrative underreporting of data, a SOFLO official attributed the low
                                                                 qualification levels to the longer and more frequent deployments that
                                                                 hinder SOF personnel from getting the training they need to take and pass
                                                                 the language tests. The official said that the goal for proficiency varies by
                                                                 unit but that the units’ goals—having the total percentage of personnel in
                                                                 the unit meet the language requirement—in the command’s draft foreign
                                                                 language strategy for the largest groups of SOF personnel requiring
                                                                 language skills are 80 and 50 percent for U.S. Army Special Operations



                                                                 26
                                                                  SOF personnel are qualified after successfully passing the language proficiency test and
                                                                 remain qualified until the time of their next test 12 months later.




                                                                 Page 19                                                         GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                                                 Command active-duty and reserve component units, respectively. The
                                                                 proficiency goal for U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command and U.S. Air
                                                                 Force Special Operations Command units is 50 percent.

Table 3: Personnel Meeting Language Proficiency Requirement from Quarters Ending September 2002 through June 2003
                                                                                                                                             a
                                                                                           Personnel meeting language requirement
                                                                                                          Quarter ending
                                                                        Sept. 2002               Dec. 2002               March 2003                June 2003
                                          Total number
                                              requiring
 Service component                      language skills              Number Percent          Number Percent           Number Percent             Number Percent
 U.S. Army Special
 Operations
 Command
     Special Forces
         Active                                        3,756             1,720        46        1,524          41          387          10            540         14
         National Guard                                1,731                 486      28          602          35             0          0               0          0
     Civil Affairs/
     Psychological
     Operations
         Active                                           675                163      24          185          27            24          4            213         32
         Reserve                                       4,627                 243       5          296           6            94          2            105           2
      Other                                                 44                 0       0             0          0             0          0               0          0
      Total                                           10,833             2,612        24        2,607          24          505           5            858           8
 U.S. Naval Special
 Warfare Command
      Total                                            1,128                 125      11            52          5          107           9             57           5
 U.S. Air Force
 Special Operations
 Command
      Total                                               155                 19      12            18         12            14          9             21         14
 Grand total                                         12,116              2,756        23        2,677          22          626           5            936           8
Sources: Special Operations Forces Language Office (data); GAO (analysis).

                                                                 Notes: Percentage totals may not add because of rounding.

                                                                 These statistics are derived from SOFLO’s newly created database, and the mechanisms for
                                                                 collecting the data and ensuring reliability are still being worked out.
                                                                 SOFLO also acknowledges that there may be some administrative underreporting of data.
                                                                 a
                                                                  Language requirement is satisfied if personnel have met or exceeded the required proficiency level in
                                                                 the required language(s) within the last 12 months. There is no distinction between personnel tested
                                                                 and failed and personnel not tested.




                                                                 Page 20                                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
According to a SOFLO official, the number of SOF personnel annually
tested in their respective language(s) could be increased if more certified
oral testers were available to administer the Oral Proficiency Interview,27
the scheduling of these tests was more flexible, and the services allowed
greater use of these tests for language(s) qualification. While most SOF
personnel qualify in their languages by taking the Defense Language
Proficiency Test, an Oral Proficiency Interview can also be used when the
Defense Language Proficiency Test is not available in a given language.
The SOFLO official stated that SOF prefers the oral test when it can be
used because of the importance placed on verbal skills in conducting
SOF missions. However, the certified oral testers,28 who are normally
members of the Defense Language Institute’s teaching staff, are sometimes
unavailable because they are teaching or doing other primary duties.
Coordinating the schedules of the institute’s staff and the SOF members
to conduct the tests is also difficult. For example, while reserve and guard
members are primarily available to take the tests on weekends during their
unit’s drill time, it is not always possible for the institute to schedule the
two testers that are required to administer the test in a given language
during that same time. Additionally, the SOFLO official stated that a
draft Department of the Army language regulation would allow use of the
oral test even if a Defense Language Proficiency Test exists for a given
language.29 The official said that SOFLO is working with the Navy and the
Air Force to make similar changes to their language regulations.

As DOD places greater emphasis on the capabilities of special operations
forces, especially those related to counterterrorism, command officials
told us that these forces are unlikely to experience any change in the
frequency or length of their deployments. Although command officials said
they are still unsure about the impact of these changes on SOF language
needs, the problems of access are likely to continue.




27
 DOD uses the Defense Language Proficiency Test and the Oral Proficiency Interview to
measure an individual’s language skills. Both tests are administered through the Defense
Language Institute.
28
 Oral testers have native fluency in a language and are trained and certified by the Defense
Language Institute to administer the Oral Proficiency Interview.
29
  The Department of the Army is consolidating Army Regulations 611-6, Army Linguist
Management, and 350-16, Total Army Language Program, into a single new Army
language regulation.




Page 21                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Distance/Distributive    According to SOFLO officials, some of accessibility challenges may
Learning Could Provide   be addressed by the development or expanded use of distance/distributive-
Better Access to         training tools, such as Internet-based training, multimedia technologies,
                         and SCOLA foreign language broadcasts. While the new B.I.B. contract
Language Training        provides additional flexibility and training options, it focuses primarily
                         on traditional methods of delivering language training, such as classroom
                         training, one-on-one tutoring, and total-immersion training. This type
                         of live, person-to-person instruction is the preferred method for most
                         language learning. However, distance/distributive-learning tools,
                         particularly those tools that deliver on-demand “anytime, anywhere”
                         training, offer options that can be effectively adapted to the training needs
                         of SOF personnel.

                         Distance/distributive learning encompasses a wide range of delivery
                         methods, including video tele-training, computer conferencing, and
                         correspondence courses. In recent years, DOD has sought to develop
                         the next generation of distance/distributive learning—advanced
                         distributed learning30—which expands the range of options for providing
                         DOD personnel with access to high-quality education and training, tailored
                         to individual needs and delivered cost-effectively, whenever and wherever
                         it is required. Advanced distributed learning includes Internet-based
                         instruction, simulation, integrated networked systems, and digital
                         knowledge repositories. DOD’s March 2002 Training Transformation
                         Strategy31 emphasizes the use of such learning methodologies to
                         ensure that training is readily available to both active and reserve
                         military personnel, regardless of time and place. Table 4 shows the
                         continuum of learning delivery methods from classroom to advanced
                         distributed learning.32




                         30
                          Advanced distributive learning is instruction that does not require an instructor’s
                         presence; can use more than one medium; and emphasizes the use of reusable content,
                         networks, and learning management systems.
                         31
                          See Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of
                         Defense, Strategic Plan for Transforming DOD Training (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 1, 2002).
                         32
                           For further information on the status of DOD’s advanced distributed learning programs,
                         see U.S. General Accounting Office, Military Transformation: Progress and Challenges
                         for DOD’s Advanced Distributed Learning Programs, GAO-03-393 (Washington, D.C.:
                         Feb. 28, 2003).




                         Page 22                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
     Table 4: Continuum of Learning Methods

                              Right time, right place                       Anytime, anywhere
                                               Distance/distributive-       Advanced distributed
      Classroom delivery                       learning delivery            learning delivery
      method                                   methods                      methods
      Instructor-led training                  • Video tele-training        • 	 Integrated networked
                                               • Embedded training              systems
                                               • Computer conferencing      • Integrated platforms

                                               • Interactive television     • 	 Reusable learning
                                                                                objects
                                               • Electronic classrooms
                                                                            • 	 Widespread
                                               • Interactive multimedia
                                                                                collaboration
                                               • 	 Computer-based
                                                                            • 	 Global knowledge
                                                   training                     databases
                                               • Audio-graphics
                                                                            • 	 Intelligent tutoring
                                               • Audiotapes/videotapes          systems
                                               • 	 Correspondence           • Performance aiding
                                                   courses                  • 	 Digital knowledge
                                                                                repositories
                                                                            • 	 Internet-based
                                                                                instruction
                                                                            • Virtual libraries
                                                                            • Simulation
                                                                            • Virtual classrooms

     Source: Defense Acquisition University.

     Note: The data displayed in the table are based on data provided in the Defense Acquisition
     University’s Strategic Plan 2002-2009 Training Transformation (T2), The Defense Acquisition
     University Road Map for e-Learning and On-Line Performance Support.


     SOFLO officials have begun evaluating some of the distance/distributive-
     learning options for language training that DOD has been developing for
     its own language-training programs. They told us that some of these efforts
     might be adaptable to the SOF program, as shown in the following:

•	  The Defense Language Institute, in collaboration with the National
    Cryptologic School, Foreign Service Institute, and the National Foreign
    Language Center, are developing an Internet-based learning support
    system, called LangNet, which provides language learners and teachers
    with access to on-line language materials. The Defense Language Institute
    is also expanding its video tele-training capabilities to provide students
    located throughout the world with real-time language instruction.
• 	 The U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, is leading an
    initiative called Broadband Intelligence Training System, or BITS, to use
    commercial broadband technology as a way to provide individuals with


     Page 23                                                              GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                    Internet-based tele-training at the unit or at home. SOFLO officials believe
                    that this distance-learning tool shows the promise of delivering on-demand
                    courseware in various languages with minimal technology requirements
                    and being effective for initial acquisition training.
                • 	 The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency is developing a
                    language-training simulation, which may be useful when speech
                    recognition software hurdles are resolved.

                   SOFLO also wants to expand the availability of individual multimedia
                   tools, e.g., CD-ROM and DVD media and players, so that SOF personnel
                   could use such tools at any location. Additionally, the Army’s John F.
                   Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,
                   is developing computer-based language courses that can be accessed
                   through an Army learning site or through correspondence. Distributive
                   learning was the principal theme of the command’s annual SOF language
                   conference in August 2003, and SOFLO provided attendees with
                   information on various language-oriented initiatives.

                   A SOFLO official told us that distance/distributive-learning approaches
                   are most beneficial for providing individuals who already have some
                   language proficiency with sustainment training or enhancement training.
                   While useful, these approaches are often not considered the best options
                   for those individuals who need initial acquisition language training where
                   person-to-person interaction is most desired. The official said that
                   SOFLO is still in the early stages of evaluating and determining which
                   distance/distributive-learning options are best suited to its program and
                   the resources it will need to incorporate them into its program.


                   While the U.S. Special Operations Command has taken several recent
Conclusions 
      actions to begin improving the delivery of language training and the
                   management of its foreign language program, these actions have been
                   taken without the benefit of a cohesive management framework combined
                   with strategic planning tools. At the forefront of the recent actions is a
                   major shift in the way that the program provides language training for
                   active-duty, reserve, and guard SOF personnel in the Army, Navy, and
                   Air Force. Rather than using multiple contractors, the command has
                   consolidated all of the training under a single contractor to provide a
                   standardized curriculum and standardized training materials, more flexible
                   delivery mechanisms, and consistent monitoring of student and teacher
                   performance. These ongoing management actions address a wide range
                   of issues, including the need for more coordination and communication
                   within the program, the creation of a database to track language



                   Page 24                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
proficiencies and training requirements, and better utilization of other
national language assets. However, because the program has not yet
issued a strategy and developed the necessary strategic-planning tools
(a strategic plan with an associated performance plan and reports) to
carry it out, the value and impact of these disparate actions on the
program as a whole is difficult to evaluate. As a first step, the command
could issue a strategy for meeting SOF language requirements to establish
its vision for language training across the command. As a second step, the
command could use the strategic vision to develop necessary strategic
planning tools to guide the program in the future. Such strategic planning
with the support of top leadership would allow the program to determine
what actions are needed to meet its overall goals and objectives; ensure
that these actions are well integrated with each other; identify key target
dates, priorities, and the resources needed to undertake them; develop
performance measures to assess their progress and effectiveness; identify
corrective actions; and better manage risk. It also should be aligned with
DOD’s overall human capital efforts to more effectively address its
personnel challenges. Without a cohesive management framework based
on strategic planning, the program risks losing the momentum it has
achieved so far and risk failing to meet the growing needs of special
operations forces for increasingly critical foreign language skills.

Despite continuing challenges in accessing training, the development of
distance/distributive learning promises to offer SOF personnel greater
access to language resources. While SOF personnel are often unable to
take advantage of traditional, instructor-based language training because
of long deployments and geographical dispersion, they could benefit from
distance/distributive-training approaches that offer more flexibility and
accessibility to language training, including on-demand, “anytime,
anywhere” options. The use of distance/distributive learning would also
provide a good complement to the training services offered by the
command’s new contract. The command has an opportunity to support
several promising DOD distance/distributive-learning initiatives under way
with participation and resources. Also, DOD could consider expanding
the use and availability of oral proficiency interview testing to provide
additional opportunities for SOF personnel to test and qualify each year
in their respective language(s). DOD could also consider changing the
amount paid to Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers for foreign
language proficiency to provide additional incentive for them to maintain
and improve their language skills and provide more pay and allowance
funds for these soldiers to allow more to attend language schools and
pursue other venues for language training. Such changes might be a way to
provide greater assurance that Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers


Page 25                                          GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                            take advantage of current language training and training that becomes
                            available through the use of distance/distributive learning.


                            To strengthen the management and delivery of foreign language training
Recommendations for 
       for special operations forces, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense
Executive Action 
          direct the Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command to

                       •	  adopt a strategy for meeting special operations forces’ foreign language
                           requirements and develop the necessary strategic-planning tools (a
                           strategic plan with associated performance plan and reports) to use in
                           managing and assessing the progress of its foreign language program and
                           to better address future human capital challenges and
                       • 	 incorporate distance/distributive-learning approaches into the program to
                           improve the special operations forces’ access to language training, and if
                           additional resources are required, to request them.

                            In addition, the Secretary of Defense should evaluate current (1) foreign
                            language proficiency pay rates and (2) pay and allowance funding levels
                            for Army Reserve and National Guard personnel to determine if changes
                            are needed to provide them with a greater incentive to undertake language
                            study and allow for more personnel to attend language schools and other
                            training venues. Furthermore, the Secretary of Defense should examine
                            options for increasing the use and availability of oral proficiency foreign
                            language testing to provide additional opportunities for SOF personnel to
                            test and qualify in their respective languages.


                            In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with all
Agency Comments 
           but one of our recommendations. DOD’s comments are reprinted in
and Our Evaluation 
        appendix IV.

                            DOD did not agree with our recommendation that the U.S. Special
                            Operations Command adopt a strategy and develop strategic-planning
                            tools to strengthen the management and delivery of foreign language
                            training for special operations forces. DOD stated in its comments that the
                            command’s current draft of a SOF language strategy is in its infancy and
                            needs to be properly reviewed through various DOD organizations before
                            the Secretary of Defense could direct its adoption. Although nothing in our
                            draft report was meant to suggest that the draft language strategy should
                            be implemented without proper review, we clarified this recommendation
                            to state that the command adopt “a strategy,” rather than any particular
                            draft of a strategy. While we recognize that it may take some time for the



                            Page 26                                         GAO-03-1026 Military Training
command to prepare and approve such a document, we would note
that the command has a longstanding internal requirement, which dates
to 1998, for the program to have such a strategy. In its comments, DOD did
not address the second part of the recommendation, which called for the
development, in tandem with a strategy, of strategic planning tools to use
in managing and assessing the program’s progress and address future
human capital challenges. We continue to believe that the timely adoption
of both a strategy and planning tools is an essential step for ensuring the
effective management of the SOF foreign language program.

DOD concurred with our other recommendations, specifically that the
command incorporate distributed learning approaches into its SOF foreign
language training; that the Secretary of Defense evaluate the current
foreign language proficiency pay rates and pay and allowance funding
levels for Army Reserve and National Guard personnel; and that the
Secretary examine options to increase the use and availability of oral
proficiency testing.


We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional 

committees; the Secretary of Defense; the Commander of the U.S. Special

Operations Command; and the Director, Office of Management and 

Budget. We will make copies available to others upon request. In addition, 

the report will available at no charge on the GAO Web site at 

http://www.gao.gov. 


If you or your staff have any questions, please call me on (757) 552-8100. 

An additional GAO contact and other staff members who made key 

contributions to this report are listed in appendix V. 





Neal P. Curtin 

Director, Defense Capabilities 

 and Management 





Page 27                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology 



                                         In conducting our review, we focused on the foreign language training
                                         that the U.S. Special Operations Command (the command) and its service
                                         component commands in the Army, Navy, and Air Force provide for
                                         special operations forces (SOF) personnel. This training is offered to
                                         active-duty, reserve, and National Guard SOF personnel who have foreign
                                         language proficiency requirements. We discussed SOF language issues
                                         with a variety of officials at the Department of Defense (DOD), service
                                         headquarters offices, the command’s headquarters offices, Special
                                         Operations Forces Language Office (SOFLO) and service component
                                         commands, the Defense Language Institute, and other stakeholders that
                                         provide or use the command’s language training. The organizations and
                                         offices that we contacted during our review are listed in table 5.

Table 5: Organizations and Offices Contacted during Our Review

Location                     Organization/Office contacted
Washington, D.C., area       Department of Defense
                             •   Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for C3I
                             • 	 Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low-Intensity Conflict, and
                                 Counter-terrorism
                             • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
                             • Departments of the Army and Air Force National Guard Bureau
                             Department of the Army
                             • Army Foreign Language Proponency Office
                             • DOD Foreign Language Program Office
                             • Defense Language Institute–Washington
                             Department of the Navy
                             • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Foreign Language Office
                             • Marine Corps Foreign Language Program Office
                             Department of the Air Force
                             • Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Information Operations Readiness Branch

                             Department of State
                             • Foreign Service Institute


Fayetteville, N.C., area     U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.
                             • Special Operations Forces Language Office
                             • U.S. Special Forces Command
                             • U.S. John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School
                             • U.S. Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command
                             • 3rd Special Forces Group
                             • Elements of the 351st Civil Affairs Command




                                         Page 28                                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                              Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




 Location                        Organization/Office contacted
 Fort Walton Beach, Fla., area   U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla.
                                 • U.S. Air Force Special Operations School
                                 • 6th Special Operations Squadron

 Monterey, Calif., area 	        Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
                                 Defense Manpower Data Center
 Norfolk, Va., area 	            Naval Special Warfare Group 2
                                 Naval Special Warfare Group 4
 Omaha, Nebr., area              Satellite Communications for Learning, McClelland, Iowa
 Orlando, Fla., area             B.I.B. Consultants, Inc.
 San Diego, Calif., area         U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, Coronado, Calif.
                                 • Naval Special Warfare Group 1
 Tampa, Fla., area               U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
                                 • Training, Doctrine, and Education Division

Source: GAO.



                                              To assess the command’s recent actions to improve the management and
                                              delivery of its SOF foreign language training, we obtained documents
                                              and spoke with various stakeholders who use or support the training. In
                                              particular, we talked with officials at SOFLO about their responsibilities
                                              and the recent actions they have undertaken for the SOF language
                                              program. We reviewed DOD and command guidance, policies, speeches,
                                              reports, and other documents to increase our understanding of the
                                              program’s history and issues. We spoke with individuals in active-duty,
                                              reserve, and National Guard SOF units to learn their perspectives on
                                              obtaining language training and on achieving and retaining language
                                              proficiencies. Specifically, we did the following:

                                         •	   We discussed the command’s new language services contract with
                                              command contracting officials and officials at each of the service
                                              components. We visited the contractor, B.I.B. Consultants, to discuss its
                                              use of teaching methodologies and management strategies to implement
                                              the contract. To obtain information about the first 11 months of language
                                              training (October 2002-August 2003) under the new contract, we
                                              (1) attended the command’s first quarterly contract reviews in March
                                              and August 2003; (2) discussed classes and other training activities with
                                              command and service components officials, B.I.B. Consultants and Berlitz
                                              International representatives, and language instructors and SOF students;
                                              and (3) conducted analyses of student end-of-course evaluations and
                                              proficiency results.




                                              Page 29                                              GAO-03-1026 Military Training
     Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




•	  We talked with command headquarters and SOFLO officials about the
    command’s progress in assessing the SOF language requirements and
    in changing the way it communicates and coordinates (e.g., via annual
    conference, Internet-based Web site, etc.) with its various stakeholders.
    We attended the command’s 2003 language conference. Although we
    reviewed the process for determining SOF language requirements, we
    did not examine the specific criteria and rationale for decisions made
    for those requirements (e.g., languages, number of personnel needed,
    and proficiency levels required for units) in its recent assessment.
• 	 To determine the extent to which the SOF language program uses other
    national language training assets, we obtained information from and met
    with officials at the Defense Language Institute, Satellite Communications
    for Learning (SCOLA), Defense Applied Research Projects Agency, and
    Foreign Service Institute. We also attended a SCOLA language conference
    that focused on the use of its broadcasts to support government language
    programs.
• 	 To understand the use and merits of strategic planning and how it could
    benefit the SOF language program, we reviewed our prior work on
    strategic planning and strategic human capital management and the
    general management principles laid out in the Government Performance
    and Results Act of 1993.

     In conducting our review of student end-of-course evaluations to
     determine the satisfaction of students with classes taught by B.I.B.
     under the new contract, we requested student evaluations from the Army’s
     John F. Kennedy Center and School for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003
     and from the Naval Special Warfare Command’s Group 1 for the second
     quarter of fiscal year 2003. The Army’s school and the Navy’s Group 1
     provided evaluations from 11 (out of 22) classes and 3 (out of 3) classes,
     respectively. An Army school official told us that the contractor could not
     provide the evaluations for the other 11 classes we requested because the
     evaluations had been misplaced. As a result, our evaluation results may
     not be fully representative of the views of all students in all classes
     because the missing evaluations may have different responses from those
     that did respond and were provided to GAO. In conducting our analysis,
     we selected three questions from the student end-of course evaluations
     that, in our judgment, provided an indication of the overall effectiveness of
     the course, the instructor’s performance, and the usefulness of course
     materials. We also reviewed individual student proficiency scores from
     22 initial acquisition classes conducted at the Army’s school at Fort Bragg,
     North Carolina, to determine the performance of students in reaching
     end-of-course proficiency goals.




     Page 30                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




In identifying ways for the command to deal with challenges that limit
accessibility to its foreign language training resources, we interviewed
officials at SOFLO and the service component commands to understand
the training requirements and resources and determine the challenges
faced by SOF personnel in gaining accessing language training. We
examined information from SOFLO’s language database1 to assess the
extent to which more frequent and longer deployments may affect SOF
personnel’s access to the training they need to pass exams and qualify
in their particular languages. We also talked with more than 50 members
of Army Reserve and National Guard units to better understand their
particular difficulties and limitations in getting training. We spoke
with officials at the Defense Language Institute and visited their
facilities to obtain information about their ongoing efforts to develop
distance/distributed learning and advanced distributed-learning
methods. We also met with Defense Applied Research Projects Agency
officials to discuss how their new technologies could support SOF
language-training needs.

We performed our review from October 2002 through July 2003 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




1
 SOFLO’s language database has been operational for only a short time, and the mechanisms for
collecting the data and ensuring reliability are still being worked out. SOFLO also acknowledges that
there may be some administrative underreporting of data. However, from our discussions with SOFLO
officials about their current data collection and verification procedures, we believe the data to be
sufficiently reliable.




Page 31                                                           GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix II: Language Proficiency Levels
and Requirements

              The special operations forces foreign language-training program uses the
              foreign language proficiency scale established by the federal Interagency
              Language Roundtable.1 The scale ranks individuals’ language skills in
              terms of their ability to listen, read, speak, and write in a foreign language.
              The scale has six basic proficiency levels, ranging from zero to 5; level
              zero indicates no language capability, and level 5 indicates proficiency
              in the language. A plus (+) designation is added if the proficiency
              substantially exceeds one skill level but does not fully meet the criteria for
              the next level. Table 6 shows the language capabilities required for each
              proficiency level.




              1
               The Interagency Language Roundtable is an unfunded federal interagency organization
              established for the coordination and sharing of information about language-related
              activities at the federal level. It serves as the premier way for departments and agencies of
              the federal government to keep abreast of the progress and implementation of techniques
              and technology for language learning, language use, language testing, and other language-
              related activities.




              Page 32                                                      GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                                      Appendix II: Language Proficiency Levels and
                                                      Requirements




Table 6: Foreign Language Capabilities at Proficiency Levels

                                                                                 Language capabilitiesa
 Proficiency levelb                Listening                              Reading                                    Speaking
      b
 0+                                Understands certain memorized          Reads alphabet or high-frequency           Produces telegraphic utterances for
                                   utterances in areas of immediate       characters; recognizes some                immediate survival needs.
                                   needs with extra-linguistic cues.      numbers and isolated words.
 1                                 Understands basic survival             Reads simple, predictable material         Maintains very simple
                                   utterances, simple questions and       in print or type, identifies general       conversations on familiar topics;
                                   answers on familiar topics, and        topics.                                    cannot produce continuous
                                   main ideas.                                                                       discourse unless rehearsed.
 2                                 Understands routine conversations Reads simple, authentic,                        Handles routine, high-frequency,
                                   and discourse about familiar topics; straightforward material on familiar         limited interactions and
                                   gleans all the facts.                topics; uses contextual cues.                conversations about current
                                                                                                                     events, family, and common topics.
 3                                 Understands essentials of all          Reads a variety of prose on                Participates effectively in most
                                   speech; grasps opinion and             unfamiliar subjects that may               formal and informal conversations
                                   inferences.                            include opinions, hypothesis, and          about practical, social, and
                                                                          analysis.                                  professional topics within a shared
                                                                                                                     context.
 4                                 Understands all forms and styles of    Reads fluently and accurately all          Uses the language fluently and

                                   speech, even some nonstandard          styles and forms; grasps full              accurately for all purposes. 

                                   dialects; develops and analyzes        ramifications of texts within wider 

                                   argumentation.                         context. 

 5                                 Understands extremely difficult and Reads very difficult and abstract             Commands language with
                                   abstract speech and how natives     prose.                                        complete flexibility and intuition;
                                   think as they create discourse.	                                                  pronunciation consistent with that
                                                                                                                     of an educated native speaker.
Source: Federal Interagency Language Roundtable.
                                                      a
                                                       Language proficiency levels and capabilities are based on the Interagency Language Roundtable
                                                      standards. The table does not include a description of the capabilities for writing.
                                                      b
                                                       The 0+ exceeds the basic 0 proficiency level. Zero-level proficiency indicates no capabilities in a
                                                      foreign language.


                                                      Language proficiency levels are established for SOF personnel during
                                                      the U.S. Special Operations Command’s biennial assessment of language
                                                      requirements, which is done in conjunction with geographic unified
                                                      commanders. The assessment identifies the languages, the proficiency
                                                      levels, and the number of individuals needed with these skills in the
                                                      commanders’ geographic regions. Table 7 shows the required (minimum)
                                                      and the desired proficiency levels for each service component and
                                                      specialty. For example, Army SOF members who work in civil affairs
                                                      and psychological operations where they frequently interact with local
                                                      populations require a proficiency level of 2 for listening, reading, and
                                                      speaking. Army Special Forces, on the other hand, require only a level 0+
                                                      to perform their missions, although a higher standard is desired.



                                                      Page 33                                                             GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                                     Appendix II: Language Proficiency Levels and
                                                     Requirements




Table 7: U.S. Special Operations Command Proficiency Standards for Service Components

                                                                                                              Proficiency level
                                                                                                          a
                                                                                               Required                             Desired               

 Service component and specialty                                                               Listen/Read/Speak                  Listen/Read/Speak
 All/Intelligence                                                                                                2/2/2                            3/3/3
 U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command                                                                       2/2/2                            2/2/2
 U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command                                                                              2/2/2                            2/2/2
 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (Civil Affairs)                                                            2/2/2                            2/2/2
 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (Special Forces)                                                        0+/0+/0+                            1/2/2
 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (Psychological Operations)                                                 2/2/2                            2/2/2
Source: Special Operations Forces Language Office.

                                                     Note: Required and desired proficiency levels were established by the command’s current
                                                     assessment of SOF language requirements.
                                                     a
                                                      Personnel can meet the required proficiency by taking the Defense Language Proficiency Test
                                                     (listen/read), or an Oral Proficiency Interview (speak) when the Defense Language Proficiency Test
                                                     is not available in a given language.




                                                     Page 34                                                             GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix III: Status of the Language Services
Contract between the U.S. Special Operations
Command and B.I.B. Consultants
                                                          In accordance with its language services contract with the U.S. Special
                                                          Operations Command, B.I.B. Consultants is providing various types of
                                                          training for special operations forces personnel at each of the command’s
                                                          service components. As shown in table 8, this training ranges from
                                                          language instruction, to beginning students with no foreign language
                                                          proficiency, to those students who have acquired some proficiency. It
                                                          consists of language study conducted in a traditional classroom setting;
                                                          one-on-one instructor/student training; and total immersion training,
                                                          where students practice their language(s) in a live or virtual environment.1
                                                          The training also includes an orientation of the customs, culture, and
                                                          common phrases for the area where the student’s language is used.

Table 8: Foreign Language Training Provided by B.I.B. Consultants Contract

 Training type                              Purpose/Audience                                                  Environment
 Initial acquisition                        Beginning training for students that have no measurable           •    Traditional classroom setting.
                                            proficiency level in a particular foreign language.               •    Home-based, one-on-one
                                                                                                                   instruction.
 Sustainment                                Training for students that already have acquired a specified      •    Traditional classroom setting.
                                            proficiency level and need only to maintain that level.           •    Home-based, one-on-one
                                                                                                                   instruction.
                                                                                                              •    Live or virtual immersion training.
 Enhancement                                Training to raise a student’s proficiency level.                  •    Traditional classroom setting.
                                                                                                              •	   Home-based, one-on-one
                                                                                                                   instruction.
                                                                                                              •    Live or virtual immersion training.
 Survival/Cultural orientation 	 Training to provide a basic understanding of customs, culture,               •    Traditional classroom setting.
                                 and common phrases for a world region. Conducted when                        •    Home-based, one-on-one
                                 course duration is highly constrained by the training time                        instruction.
                                 available.
                                                                                                              •    Live or virtual immersion training.
Source: Special Operations Forces Language Office.



                                                          During the first 9 months (October 2002 to July 2003) of the contract,
                                                          B.I.B. training varied at each of the SOF service components. For example,
                                                          from October 2002 to July 2003, B.I.B. conducted over 40 initial acquisition
                                                          language classes for more than 500 students in 13 different languages at
                                                          the Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at



                                                          1
                                                           Total immersion in a live environment involves students’ going to the country where the
                                                          language to be learned is spoken. Total immersion in a virtual environment involves
                                                          training in an isolated environment in the United States, and only the language to be
                                                          learned is spoken.




                                                          Page 35                                                      GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix III: Status of the Language Services
Contract between the U.S. Special Operations
Command and B.I.B. Consultants




Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From January through February 2003, B.I.B.
also provided initial acquisition language training for 10 students in three
languages (3 classes) at the Navy’s Special Warfare Command’s Group 1
at Coronado, California. According to the Air Force command language
program manager, B.I.B. is expected to start providing initial acquisition
language training for Air Force SOF personnel at Hurlburt Field,
Florida, where the Air Force recently established a language-training
lab. According to a B.I.B. contract manager, B.I.B. has also provided
16 immersion sessions in various languages for students in each of the
service components as of the end-of-July 2003 (9, 6, and 1, respectively, for
the Navy, Army, and Air Force).

According to a Special Operations Forces Language Office official,
students’ proficiency scores after completing B.I.B.-taught classes at the
Army’s school are about the same as those achieved under prior contracts.
Additionally, six students in an accelerated pilot class achieved scores that
met or exceeded the minimum proficiency level.2 Our review of students’
proficiency scores from all the initial acquisition classes (a total of 22),
including the Spanish pilot course that began at the Army school during
the first quarter of fiscal year 2003, showed that 6 percent (11 students)
of the 171 students did not meet the 0+ requirement for listening and
2 percent (4 students) did not meet the 0+ requirement for reading.
(See fig. 1.) However, all of those students did meet the alternate goal,
which is to attain at least a 0+ on an Oral Proficiency Interview. Although
only a small number of Navy SOF personnel have received training under
the B.I.B. contract, a Naval Special Warfare Command Group 1 official
said that students’ proficiency scores from the first three B.I.B. initial
acquisition language classes (a total of 10 students) conducted from
January through February 2003 exceeded the results of classes conducted
under previous contracts.




2
 The accelerated pilot class in Spanish was conducted for 10 weeks instead of the regular
18 weeks with the goal of having students achieve language proficiency faster. B.I.B.
Consultants, the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and
SOFLO plan to conduct additional accelerated pilot classes in other languages.




Page 36                                                    GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                         Appendix III: Status of the Language Services
                                         Contract between the U.S. Special Operations
                                         Command and B.I.B. Consultants




Figure 1: Student Proficiency Score Results for Listening and Reading for Initial Acquisition Language Courses at the Army’s
John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School for the First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2003




                                         Note: Percentages may not total 100 percent because of rounding.


                                         We analyzed student end-of-course evaluations for about half of the
                                         initial acquisition classes offered at the Army’s school during the first
                                         quarter of 2003.3 The evaluations were designed and administered by
                                         B.I.B. Students were asked to rate their satisfaction with (1) their
                                         progress, (2) the instructor, and (3) the usefulness of the materials. As
                                         table 9 shows, most students said they were extremely or very satisfied
                                         with their instructor’s performance. Most students also expressed some
                                         satisfaction with their progress and the usefulness of course materials.
                                         However, it should be noted that 13 out of 77 evaluations indicated
                                         dissatisfaction with their progress, and 17 out of 77 evaluations also



                                         3
                                          We requested end-of-course evaluations from all SOF language classes conducted by B.I.B.
                                         Consultants during the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 at the U.S. Army Special Warfare
                                         Center and School, but the Army’s school provided only 77 student end-of-course
                                         evaluations for 11 (of a total of 22) classes for 7 (of a total of 11) languages. Because we
                                         were not able to obtain all student end-of-course evaluations, the missing evaluations may
                                         have different responses from those that did respond and were provided to GAO.




                                         Page 37                                                        GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                                               Appendix III: Status of the Language Services
                                                               Contract between the U.S. Special Operations
                                                               Command and B.I.B. Consultants




                                                               indicated dissatisfaction with the usefulness of the course materials.
                                                               At the Army school, the Army, as required under the B.I.B. contract,
                                                               provides course materials.

Table 9: Student Evaluations Responses from Some Initial Acquisition SOF Language Classes at the U.S. Army John F.
Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during the First Quarter of 2003

                                                                                                    Initial acquisition language classes
                                                                                                              a                      b
                                                                       A       B         C        D         E         F         G    H     I      J      K     L     M
 Total number of classes                                              22        3        1         2         1         1        2    1     2      1      2     1     5
 Total number of students                                            180      20         7       16          7         6       16    6    24     8      21     8    41
 Number of classes with evaluations
 obtained                                                             11        3        1         2         1         1        2    1     0      0      0     0     0
 Number of evaluations obtained                                       77      20         7       16          7         6       15    6     0      0      0     0     0
                                           c
 Student evaluation responses
 Student progress
 Extremely/Very satisfied                                             30        7        0         5         0         5        8    5
 Somewhat satisfied                                                   34        6        5       10          5         1        6    1
 Not very/not at all satisfied                                        13        7        2         1         2         0        1    0
 Instructor’s performance
 Extremely/Very satisfied                                             64      18         2       13          6         6       13    6
 Somewhat satisfied                                                     8       1        3         3         0         0        1    0
 Not very/not at all satisfied                                          4       1        2         0         0         0        1    0
 Usefulness of materials
 Extremely/Very useful                                                24        2        1         6         2         3        6    4
 Somewhat useful                                                      35        3        6       10          5         3        6    2
 Not very/not at all useful                                           18      15         0         0         0         0        3    0
Sources: U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (data); GAO (analysis).

                                                               Legend: A = All languages, B = Arabic, C = Korean, D = Russian, E = Serbian, F = Turkish, G = Thai,
                                                               H = Spanish pilot, I = French, J = German, K = Indonesian, L = Pashtu, M = Spanish.
                                                               Note: We were not able to obtain student end-of-course evaluations for 11 classes in French,
                                                               German, Indonesian, Spanish (other than the Spanish pilot class), and Pashtu, and have therefore
                                                               excluded these classes from our analysis.
                                                               a
                                                                   One student (in a Serbian class) did not respond to “instructor satisfaction” question.
                                                               b
                                                                   Spanish pilot class was taught using an accelerated class schedule.
                                                               c
                                                                Student evaluations have been aggregated for languages where more than one section of the same
                                                               class was taught.




                                                               Page 38                                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix III: Status of the Language Services
Contract between the U.S. Special Operations
Command and B.I.B. Consultants




We also analyzed student end-of-course evaluations for three classes
taught by B.I.B. at the Naval Special Warfare Command’s Group 1,
Coronado, California, during the second quarter 2003.4 Unlike the Army,
which used B.I.B.’s evaluation, the Navy designed and administered its
own evaluation. In these evaluations, students were also asked to evaluate
their courses in three areas: sufficient instruction time; instructor’s ability
to effectively teach, and the quality of instructional material. As table 10
indicates, all responses rated the three areas as “excellent or good,” with
the exception of the Indonesian class where two out of three students
rated the “quality of materials” as “average.” Although only one of the
three classes used B.I.B. course materials as required by the contract,
classes that started in July 2003 are using the B.I.B.-provided materials.




4
 We requested student end-of-course evaluations for all classes conducted at the Naval
Special Warfare Command’s Group 1 by B.I.B. in the second quarter of fiscal year 2003.
We received evaluations for 9 students (of a total of 10) from three classes across
three languages.




Page 39                                                   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                                                                 Appendix III: Status of the Language Services
                                                                 Contract between the U.S. Special Operations
                                                                 Command and B.I.B. Consultants




Table 10: Student Evaluations Responses from Initial Acquisition SOF Language Classes at Naval Special Warfare Command,
Group I, Coronado, California, during the Second Quarter of 2003

                                                                                                  Initial acquisition language classes
                                                                              All languages                 Frencha              Indonesian              Tagalog
 Number of classes                                                                            3                     1                          1                1
 Number of students                                                                          10                     4                          4                2
 Number of classes with evaluations obtained                                                  3                     1                          1                1
 Number of evaluations obtained                                                               9                     4                          3                2
 Student evaluation responses
     Sufficient instruction time
         Excellent/good                                                                      8                      3                          3                2
         Average                                                                             0                      0                          0                0
         Fair/poor                                                                           0                      0                          0                0
     Instructor’s performance
         Excellent/good                                                                      9                      4                          3                2
         Average                                                                             0                      0                          0                0
         Fair/poor                                                                           0                      0                          0                0
     Quality of materials
         Excellent/good                                                                      7                      4                          1                2
         Average                                                                             2                      0                          2                0
         Fair/poor                                                                           0                      0                          0                0
Sources: Naval Special Warfare Command, Group I, Coronado, Calif., (data); GAO (analysis).
                                                                 a
                                                                 One student did not respond to the question, “sufficient instruction time.”
                                                                 We did not review student evaluations at the U.S. Air Force Special
                                                                 Operations Command because no classes were completed during the time
                                                                 we conducted our work.




                                                                 Page 40                                                            GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix IV: Comments from the
Department of Defense




Note: Comments were
received from the
Department of Defense
on September 26, 2003.




                         Page 41   GAO-03-1026 Military Training
                              Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
                              of Defense




Note: Page numbers in
the draft report may differ
from those in this report.




                              Page 42                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 43                                     GAO-03-1026 Military Training
Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
Acknowledgments

                    Clifton E. Spruill (202) 512-4531
Contact
                    In addition to the individual named above, Mark J. Wielgoszynski,
Acknowledgments 	   Marie A. Mak, Corinna A. Wengryn, Nancy L. Benco, and Deborah Long
                    made key contributions to this report.




(350276)            Page 44                                      GAO-03-1026 Military Training
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