Foreign language bonus provides incentive

By Kathryn Gustafson: Language and Culture Program

WASHINGTON — Air Force officials have recently updated the Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus policy.

All airmen, regardless of career field, are now eligible for FLPB in a broad range of languages including those identified as “dominant in the force” such as Spanish, Tagalog, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Korean and Russian.

For Air Force Special Operations Command assigned airmen serving in language-coded billets, the policy provides incentive for airmen with elementary proficiency to achieve increased language capability.

“The Air Force recognizes the need to offer incentives for more languages at higher proficiency levels in an effort to meet current and future mission requirements across a culturally-complex environment,” said Daniel Sitterly, the Air Force senior language authority and force development director for the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services.

From building partnerships at the Inter-American Air Force Academy, where education and training are conducted in Spanish, to emerging Africa Command missions, where French and Portuguese are critical to operational success, the Air Force has a wide range of missions requiring near-native capability in all languages.

The new policy is transformational in that it targets high proficiency in languages critical to building partnerships and answering operational requirements.

Air Force officials are dedicated to establishing a force of language-enabled airmen with the capability to communicate, negotiate and relate to allies and potential adversaries, Sitterly said.

“Our mission is to give our men and women the ability to effectively interface and operate in expeditionary operations,” he added.

The policy takes a novel approach to enable airmen to develop increased proficiencies across a wider range of foreign languages. While AFSOC personnel are the first to be targeted, the program is open to all career fields based on requirement and coordination with the Air Force senior language authority. The ultimate goal is to provide a focused incentive to encourage language proficiency in order to achieve a basic working level of foreign language capability.

Air Force officials have a need for specific language capabilities, and the updated policy will aid in identifying a broader range of language-enabled airmen with the capabilities to influence mission success.

The updated FLPB policy expands language acquisition incentives and helps establish of a cadre of language-enabled airmen necessary to meet current and emerging Air Force requirements.

For more information, contact local education centers for testing opportunities. Visit the Air Force A1DO Culture, Region and Language Force Development Web site on the Air Force Portal for the complete Air Force Strategic Language List.