US Congress wants troops to learn Russian, mistakenly calls it ‘East Asian language’
The House Armed Services committee demanded that the Pentagon chief James Mattis take charge of improving the troops’ command of Chinese, Korean and Russian, as it unveiled a proposal for a new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2019.
However, the way the proposal was put forward by Mac Thornberry, chairman of the committee, suggests that something is utterly wrong with foreign language proficiency in the US establishment.
“The Secretary of Defense,” the document says, “shall evaluate the operational requirements for members of the Armed Forces possessing foreign language expertise in critical East Asian languages, including Chinese, Korean, and Russian.” The proposal asks Mattis to produce the plan within 180 days after the date of the enactment of the 2019 NDAA.
While knowledge of Russian might be “critical” for US military buildup in Eastern Europe and beyond, it has never been regarded an Asian language. Encyclopaedia Britannica says: “Together with Ukrainian and Belarusian, the Russian language makes up the eastern branch of the Slavic family of languages.”
The Congress’ list of “critical languages” partially coincides with the names of the countries mentioned in the newest edition of National Security Strategy (NSS) published by the Trump administration in October 2017. The paper specifically takes aim at three “main sets of challengers,” namely “the revisionist powers of China and Russia, [and] the rogue states of Iran and North Korea.”
Moscow criticized Trump’s NSS, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying it was “definitely aggressive.” Either the US or NATO has been "accelerating build-up of infrastructure in Europe," the Russian leader said at the time. Referring to the "defense strategy recently put out" by Washington, Putin said it was "definitely offensive... speaking in diplomatic language."
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