The author of this post, Jonathan Levy, will be leading a panel discussion called “Interpreting in Conflict Zones” at the upcoming 3rd North American Summit on Interpreting, which will be held June 15-16, 2012 in Monterey, California.
“Soldier, what does this document say?” I asked, handing an Al Qaida Martyrdom Pledge to the 09L Combat Linguist in front of me. He had just finished running a good distance and was breathing hard. Next to us, two other soldiers were carrying on a very loud conversation in Arabic and the smoke from their cigarettes was burning my eyes. The soldier holding the document worked hard to completely focus his attention as he began his sight translation.
After finishing with me, the soldier ran to the next station where he provided consecutive interpretation for an interrogator who was interviewing an Arabic speaker about the same document. Other members of the 51 TICO (Translator Interpreter Company) watched closely to see if the interpreter was effectively maintaining the tone and content of the interrogator’s questions. As this session concluded, the interpreter ran to the next station and his place was taken by the next trainee in the cycle.
This was the morning of our fifth day working with the Arabic cohort of the 51 TICO out at Fort Irwin in the California desert. Myself and two other members of the CyraCom training team had spent weeks preparing materials specific to their training needs, which were designed to meet certain goals including:
- Performance – Strengthen ability to perform translation and interpretation accurately and completely
- Quality Control – Enhance the ability to evaluate and improve the translation and interpretation of trainees and others
- Mission Success – Practice activities directly related to the upcoming mission
The 09Ls (pronounced O nine Limas) perform a range of interpretation and translation tasks in support of missions for all branches of the U.S. military. Additionally, they provide language and cultural awareness familiarization for both deploying and deployed units. As such, they are somewhat unique and it was an honor to be asked to work with them.
We wish the 51 TICOs success in their upcoming mission and look forward to the next time we will meet.
Note: CyraCom International is the parent company of LLE, CyraCom and Voiance. In 2010 and 2011, CyraCom International worked with the Defense Language Institute (DLI) to create translation and interpretation training curricula in eight languages. The event above took place in March, 2012, which involved using the same standards CyraCom International created for the DLI.