Small Wars Journal

JCLIS Call for Papers: The Right Kind of Language and Cultural Capability for an Uncertain World

JCLIS Call for Papers: The Right Kind of Language and Cultural Capability for an Uncertain World

Journal of Culture, Language and International Security

Consider the Following

The Trump Administration is pushing for a $54 billion increase in DoD funding.  Touted in this increase is weapons and manpower.  In the total budget request, several non-DoD agencies, such as Department of State and Department of Homeland Security, face severe reductions in programs and staffing.  For example, State Department is facing a potential 28% reduction.  This will further burden DoD organizations with missions and operations that feature non-kinetic knowledge and skills.

Locations where these non-kinetic missions will be required are in multiple hot-spot locations: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and possibly Libya.  Syria represents the new normal: a toxic blend of state and non-state actors with a weakened central government facing multiple insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, failing borders, a proxy war, and a myriad of culture groups that form around beliefs anchored not just to region but to a rich history.  These factors influence how we go to war and how we interact once involved in those conflicts.  The other hot-spot locations are eerily akin to the challenges plaguing Syria and will require a different approach to mission, and with those approaches, new / additional skill sets and training. 

Now Consider

DoD and the US Army is spending close to 10 billion dollars over 10 years on language and culture, to include translation and interpretation services, learning and training contracts for DoD and intelligence organizations through the Defense Language Interpretation Translation Enterprise (DLITE).   Said a US Army department spokesperson:

"The government's demand for contractor-provided foreign language support has grown substantially in terms of size and scope since the events of 9/11. The need for contract foreign language support to meet the threats to U.S. interests is expected to grow and continue to become more diverse over the anticipated contract period of performance."[i]

Dollars spent on resources will support linguistic services that include contracting out interpretation and translation services. 

The DLITE program and contract does not consider efforts to provide language and culture learning “organically” to DoD military and civilian personnel.   For that, the DoD research and learning program for language and culture approach the same yearly amount as DILITE but for both, it is clear that language and not cultural knowledge and skills is the major emphasis.

Call for Papers

The Journal of Culture, Language and International Security (JCLIS) announces its Call for Papers for its Fall 2017 issue.  This issue offers a space to explore topics that speak to how policy and programs of research and learning can catalyze efforts to increase critical cross-cultural capabilities, to include skills such as language and knowledge sets and skill-based competences that promote authentic and valid social and cultural understanding of reality as well as facilitate successful cross-cultural interactions.  

Language has always been a critical enabler of success across security missions; however, the complexity of the current world “order” no longer is a bipolar one, even though that perspective still is applied to cultural variables (e.g., religion).  COIN taught us front lines no longer exist, and winning wars is just a piece of a larger puzzle.  There is no aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, as there won’t be from places like Syria; victory from a military standpoint includes less the result of force and more the result of building security through partnerships.  In specific, the space Left of Bang seems to be now and in the near future a narrower and uncertain place to operate from or in; social and cultural complexity complicates mission and operations beyond contract or organic capability and expertise.

For that, speaking the language is just one skill critical to success. JCLIS exists to understand what, and why, other cross-cultural skills and knowledges are necessary and how to better synergize those with language learning. 

For those interested in submitting papers for this issue, submission deadline is July 1, 2017.  Please send submissions and/or direct questions to JCLIS co-editor Robert Greene Sands,

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