Posted on August 10, 2005

U.S. Military English Language Requirement Under Fire

U.S. Newswire, Aug. 9

WASHINGTON — A retired Army colonel is currently circulating a proposal that would strike down the military’s English language fluency requirement and permit Spanish speakers to take the entrance exam in Spanish. According to the Associated Press, retired Army Col. Michael F. Valdez is currently in contact with his Senators and officials at the Pentagon, hoping to have his home state of Oregon as a test location for the project.

“I am sure that Col. Valdez’s proposal is well meaning, but it is profoundly misguided,” said Mauro E. Mujica, chairman of U.S. English, Inc. “In the armed forces, proficiency in English is not a requirement of convenience, but a necessity. Like in the operating room or in an airline cockpit, the battlefield is a location where issues involving a language barrier cannot be permitted.”

At the present time, the United States military entrance exam is given in English without exception. According to an Army public-affairs officer, the military tested a program a decade ago that allowed limited English proficient soldiers to enlist, but the experiment was cancelled due to lack of funds and time.

“Instead of diluting the pool of military applicants, our nation would be best served helping all immigrants, not just Spanish speakers, become productive citizens,” continued Mujica. “With an emphasis on English instead of multilingual government, we can ensure more productive citizens, higher revenues, and a stronger nation.”

“Though the military may be experiencing a recruiting shortfall, lowering the standards for entry is not the answer. The United States maintains the best armed forces in the world because it demands that its soldiers meet high qualifications, qualifications which include English proficiency. For the safety of those in our military and those who our military defends, the English language requirement must never be waived.”