Crikey‘s Fully (sic) blog looks at the problem that some armed forces are having in Afghanistan, and how it has been caused by mismanagement of on the ground interpreting services. The post links through to a piece on The Economist‘s Language blog that sums the whole debacle up quite well:
Yes, training competent linguists is hard. So is building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and training F-18 pilots. But the American military does these latter things in superlative fashion. The only conclusion is that after nine years of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and seven in Iraq, the brass still does not see being able to speak the languages of the countries America occupies as a “core competency”, as they say in the business world. It’s a nice extra, perhaps, but not mission-critical. How many Americans, Afghans and Iraqis have died as a result?