If you still don't see your question answered here, please visit the "ask a question" page.
List of current questions (click on them to be taken to the Q/A):
o Will [insert financial problem or criminal problem] prevent me from getting a security clearance?
o Can I live off post at the Defense Language Institute?
o Can you tell me the daily scope of duties of a 35P?
o Can I get a waiver for [insert medical condition or some other pre-requisite for the MOS]?
o Questions about re-enlisting for DLI as a 35M (from a public forum, answered here)
o What is life like at DLI?
o What happens if I fail my DLPT?
o What are the minimum requirements for MOS 35P?
Q: Will [insert financial problem or criminal problem] prevent me from getting a security clearance?
A: Honestly, it's hard to say. There aren't TOO many hard and fast rules that stipulate that you absolutely will not get a clearance if you do this or that. I will tell you that doing drugs, especially heavier drugs while already possessing a security clearance will pretty much guarantee that you won't get renewed or upgraded.
The key to getting a security clearance is to tell the truth. I can tell you that I got a clearance having smoked marijuana in high school a few times. However, I know of some people that smoked quite often, every day at least once, for several years, and were denied.
Questions like this should really be directed to your SSO at brigade level or higher. Have your S2 put you in contact with them. If you are a new recruit, talk to the SSO at MEPS. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, allow anyone in the recruitment process to get you to lie on your security clearance form.
Q: Can I live off post at the Defense Language Institute? A: I haven't lived there in almost eight years, and can't possibly speak for them as to whether or not you will find yourself living off or on base. If you are married you will obviously live off base either in private housing or the "government" private housing located on Fort Ord. If you are single and the rank of SSG (E6) and above, you SHOULD be living off base per DoD regulations. However, if you are single SGT and below, I have no idea.
Q: Can you tell me the daily scope of duties of a 35P? A. Nope. Sorry, I'm a 35M and never really been in a unit with 35Ps. I don't know what they do all day long. Hopefully someone can come by and tell us.
Q. Can I get a waiver for [insert medical condition or some other pre-requisite for the MOS]? A. Honestly, the best person to ask is your recruiter or retention NCO. Waivers are usually handed down from Army G1 or the MI Branch itself, which means that sort of stuff is way above my head and pay grade. For example, lately I have been getting questions about waivers to BEAR program ages and vision requirements, etc. I can only comment on what the minimum pre-reqs are, not what waivers can be granted. If you need a waiver for your color vision, for example, you will need to ask the recruiter/MEPS/retention office because I don't deal with that and don't want to steer you in the wrong direction.
Q. [From a public forum] back in the day, they sent 35M to language school. other intel fields understand that 35M are much better with a language. Why cannot 35M re-up for DLI currently? Is this policy gonna change anytime soon? I'm trying to BEAR to 35P to get a language, but I'm gonna miss my current MOS...
A. 35M are not much use with a language to be honest, at least in the current structure of the Army, for several reasons.
2) To piggy back off the first comment, imagine all that but now you are out of the loop for 1-2 years of training. That pipeline is way long for someone who isn't even going to be slotted by language.
3) 35M rarely use the language as the day-to-day operations. Furthermore, we usually get stationed at FORSCOM line units where even though the language regulation states that you will have a command language program....it rarely happens. Resulting in wasted money spent, time out of the loop, and then the language falls by the wayside anyhow. It's different with 35P as they can do their job from the States whereas in most cases we cannot unless you have very advanced training. Take me for example. I've been a Persian-Farsi linguist since 2004-2005. I had one unit send me to language school for refresher. Never another unit has done that. I don't get to use it here. So I'm left trying to practice with notecards on my phone/iPod. I don't do too shabby, but I alternate between doing ok and failing the DLPT depending on how much time I have to study in my off time. It's always a question of whether or not I will pass. And I know my skills are better than my test scores indicate, but the newest DLPT (V) is super difficult, even for native speakers in some languages. So the last test I got a 1+/2+.
4) Even if we are a 3/3 linguist (which I was when I left the school house and for several years afterwards) the language skills simply aren't good enough to conduct interrogations or source operations without an interpreter because the nuances are too high. Now, don't get me wrong, my language has helped me immensely...but it's mainly for double checking interpreters, understanding parts of conversations cutting back on time spent on the translation, reading documents, etc. But it's not enough that I would feel comfortable by myself. So now the Army pays a quarter million, has you out of the loop for about 1.5-2 years, and still has to hire an interpreter at about 100-200k a pop depending on security clearance.
Being an Army linguist is so friggin' frustrating due to the lack of support (it takes 3-4 MONTHS just to get a DLPT here at Fort Bliss, and they only give you from 0800-1300 to do BOTH portions usually) that I created a blog (see below - although this post isn't a plug for my blog).
I don't see the regulation changing anytime soon for several reasons.
1) It's too expensive. We are in a time where our government can't even balance a damn budget. It's super expensive to send someone to school in HOPES that they pass.
2) There's too many of us now. When I re-classified in mid-2004 there were probably less than 500 of us 97Es (now 35M) at the time in the entire Army if I had to guess. Now they pump a ridiculous amount through the school house each year (something like 1000 or more I don't know the exact number). I don't know what our total current end strength is at this point in the game, but imagine if you took my point #1 and combined it with the fact that everyone would want to go and immediately re-enlist for it. First off that could hinder the Army's goal to eliminate troops to save money, and two imagine how many millions it would cost if even 1,000 of the people re-enlisted for DLI suddenly.
All that being said, they recently re-instated the requirement for 35Ms to pass the DLAB when joining the military. So it does seem as if we are stepping in that direction eventually, but if I had to guess (and this is just one senior NCOs' opinion) it will only happen after all the fat is trimmed and all the cutbacks in the DoD budget are finished.
Q. What is life like at DLI?
A. I actually already have a post about this on the blog. Click here.