Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Military | News

Army to Pay Six-Figure Retention Bonus to (Straight) Linguists

Between 1998 and 2003, the GAO found that more than 60 gay linguists were discharged from the Army under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'.

Now, the Army finds itself in urgent need of linguists so it is planning to offer a six-figure bonus to retain them:

LinguistsWrites Steve Ralls in the Huff Post: "This morning's Christian Science Monitor reports that the Army is preparing to offer a staggering $150,000 retention bonus to service members who are proficient in Arabic, "in reflection of how critical it has become for the US military to retain native language and cultural know-how in its ranks." Indeed, as the war in Iraq goes on, and the military subsequently finds fewer and fewer people anxious for extended stays in the desert, retaining trained troops is becoming a critical centerpiece of many commanders' strategies. The supply of Arabic speakers just isn't keeping up with the demand created by ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

I've reposted Brave New Films powerful clip about Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the discharge of gay linguists, AFTER THE JUMP...

More Gay Linguists Discharged Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' [tr]
Outed by Email: An Army Sergeant's Digital Discharge [tr]

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  1. Despite this news, presumably none of the discharged Arabic experts should expect their phones to ring.

    Posted by: An Aesthete's Lament | Aug 5, 2008 7:50:56 PM

  2. It's these kind of dingbat policies that make it impossible for me to consider a military career, even if I were straight as an arrow. Kicking out gay linguists is obviously really stupid. But they also can't manage to train new Arabic speakers? This has long been a well-known need. Idiots.

    If I were one of the gay linguists who got kicked out, I'd be both pissed off and relieved to be free of such a poorly run institution.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 5, 2008 7:51:41 PM

  3. A long long long time ago when i was more naïve I wanted to be a linguist for the army and this is just the friggin' icing on the hatecake.

    Posted by: Sergio | Aug 5, 2008 8:10:02 PM

  4. And lord knows the gay quotient is very high among language people, a trend that continues with my students. I've always thought it had some connection to the talent for passing, which we all do before we come out. Same goes for acting.

    I'm not sure what music has to do with it, but singers/musicians tend to be good at languages too. Another skill/interest not rare among gay men.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Aug 5, 2008 8:16:13 PM

  5. The saddest thing is that, I would certainly assume, it would be gay people who be the most loyal to this country in opposition to religious extremists. Believe it or not, US Military, we're on the same side as you.

    Posted by: paul | Aug 5, 2008 8:51:09 PM

  6. Despite growing support for repealing the ban on out gays in the military you can be sure that the majority of people running the Pentagon, and the Antigay Industry, will fight it tooth and nail.

    If you genuinely care about this issue, join the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network at

    Thank you.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Aug 5, 2008 9:51:24 PM

  7. KevinVT, as I'm sure you know, there have been many studies documenting gay men's tendency to have right-brain skill sets, which accounts for our high representation in these areas. It's no stereotype that gay men are more skilled in creative arts, whether linguistics or (dare I say it) interior decorating, among many other fields. But I certainly agree that it may partly be due to us having to act as something we're not in certain (sometimes many) aspects of our lives.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 5, 2008 11:45:37 PM

  8. Keith Olbermann has a great segment on this. He accuses Bush and McCain of being more afraid of gays than terrorists. It'd be a great post if you could find it, Andy!

    Posted by: CJS | Aug 6, 2008 12:18:25 AM

  9. How many G.I.s lives could have been saved had there been a linguist available?
    If American kids had to die to keep the gays out, so be it I guess. What's Senator Jim Webb's opinion on this?

    Posted by: Andy Banned Me | Aug 6, 2008 6:05:21 AM

  10. Interesting points, Paul R.

    Actually, if you look up "stereotype" in the dictionary, the word "untrue" does not appear. Basically a stereotype is described as an oversimplified generalization about a group. So I guess I'd say that gay men being more skilled in the creative arts is a stereotype in that sense. There's some truth to it, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

    My guess is you'd agree with me, but maybe I'm wrong.

    Posted by: Yeek | Aug 6, 2008 7:53:01 AM

  11. I think the stereotype arises because gays were accepted into the creative arts first and only now are coming out in other major professions. You couldn't, for example, for the longest time, be a gay doctor. It's not just the military that rejects gays.

    Posted by: anon | Aug 6, 2008 10:06:51 AM

  12. I agree with both Yeek and Anon. Many gay men are more skilled in creative arts; not all. And our talents obviously extend into many other areas.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 6, 2008 1:13:23 PM

  13. Oh, Army Army Army.

    That's what you get for trying to suck yourself off, you bang your head against something really hard.

    You're just a sore loser Army, trying to fix with money what should have been done away with long ago.

    You look so stupid.

    Posted by: Neoteny | Aug 9, 2008 11:29:02 PM

  14. Sad that both sides of these questions go for sensation over substance.

    The military doesn't make the rules, but it is required to follow them. The reason "don't ask, don't tell" is still in force is that the American public and the politicians that represent them apparently want it. I served for 23 years and many of my fellow soldiers were gay and everyone knew it. We didn't care. Only dickhead politicians who like scaring grandmas and fascist activists give a shit.

    I also spent a total of five years at the Defense Language Institute and can assure you from personal observation that many of the cases of so-called "language specialists" or "experts" getting kicked out for being gay are bull. A surprising number of these gay students manage to get along fine until they finish the free language training and then decide to come out, thereby forcing the military leadership to enforce law forced upon it by civilian leadership. Sweet free education program, not to mention an excellent case study in political baiting. Quite of few of them could read the weather page of Al Jazera, but bailing before final tests allows them the convenient ambiguity to claim that they were "skilled, highly trained linguists". My ass. Lazy shitheads who found an easy way out is more like it. Fuck 'em!

    Posted by: Johnny B. Anders | Nov 6, 2009 4:01:20 PM

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