By Spc. Taylor Lakey-Tamacori
128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
The 300th Military Intelligence Brigade hosted the 31st annual Military Intelligence Language conference March 7-8, 2020, at the Utah National Guard Headquarters in Draper, Utah.
The Language Conference is an annual event that brings the military intelligence community together to participate in panel discussions, presentations and cutting-edge lectures on the significant issues and topics important to the language community. It also provides linguists opportunities for networking and further exchange with language professionals.
“The primary purpose for this conference is to drive a shared understanding that facilitates the development of realistic solutions to complex problems relating to proficiency and readiness across intelligence and linguist communities at both the strategic and tactical levels,”
said Maj. Aaron Sutliff, the command language program manager for the 300th MI.
The keynote speakers for this year’s conference were Major General Gary W. Johnston, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command commander, Major General Laura A. Potter, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence commander, Colonel Shahram A. Takmili, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade (Linguist) commander, and Doctor Jeannie Johnson and Brianna Bowen from Utah State University Center for Anticipatory Intelligence.
“The keynote speakers are key decision makers within the intelligence linguist community that have served at both tactical and strategic levels for across DOD organizations and its agency partners,” said Sutliff.
Major General Michael Turley, the Utah National Guard Adjutant General, started the conference by speaking to the attendees about the importance of being proficient in their military linguist specialties for the safety and security of the nation and the world and how “proficiency leads to strategic success.”
Generals Johnston and Potter shared their time to address strategic readiness and the ways in which the profession can reach the goals of providing combat ready military intelligence professionals and capabilities to our Army. Following their brief remarks, they opened the floor to an open question-and-answer session regarding the future of the military intelligence linguist profession.
Colonel Takmili spoke about the risk of machines replacing linguists and the importance of the human element in the profession.
Following the keynote speakers, linguists showed off their language skills by competing in the 3rd Annual Polyglot Games. The Polyglot Games is a language skills competition that challenges the functional and operational capabilities of military linguists in six different competencies to include a language operational skills test, accent evaluation, and site exploitation.
The games began in 2018 when only Soldiers of the 300th MI competed in the event. This year the competition was open to teams comprised from all branches of the military.
Along with the military teams, the games hosted 11 competitors from local Spanish and Chinese-Mandarin Dual Language Immersion schools. Corner Canyon High School had two teachers and six students compete in Chinese Mandarin. Olympus High School had one teacher and two students compete.
“Both teachers and students were stiff competition with one Chinese-Mandarin high school student ranking 5th out of 67 total competitors,” said Sutliff.
In addition to the Polyglot Games, the conference provided the attendees with other workshops, corporate exhibits, and break-out sessions all designed to sharpen the linguist’s skills and ensure proficiency in the profession.
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