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This is NOT an official Army-sanctioned webpage. This is just an NCO trying to help other Soldiers out. Whatever my opinions are on here are not to be considered the opinions of the Army, or even considered fact. All information presented should be double-checked with your CLPM and Retention NCO/Recruiter, or double-checked in the Army Regulation or message provided. Despite my best efforts and collaboration with other NCOs, I am sometimes wrong and you shouldn't base your enlistment/re-enlistment solely on what I have to say, but rather use this information as a base for your research.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions (Please Read Before Posting a Question)

I get a lot - a LOT - of questions emailed to me on a regular basis, and many of them are very similar. So please check this out before posting a new questions, to see if your question has already been asked. Unfortunately, many of the questions on this page are things that I can't really answer. While I don't mind fielding questions, unfortunately I'm no where near an expert in every field nor can I speak intelligently on every topic.

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?
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.

1) 35M are not slotted by language. So the Army can spend $250,000 or more to send you to language school for Arabic, and then you turn around and deploy to Afghanistan where Arabic is *almost* completely worthless.

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 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.


  1. Hi, my boyfriend was assigned a language that he really does not want to learn. Is there any way to appeal the decision or is it a permanent assignment? Thanks!

    1. And I reposted this question in the appropriate place (I hope)

  2. I am currently in the NG and deployed. I am fluent in 2 languages, 3/3 DLPT.
    Can I get into a 35p position even though I am already an e5?
    My contract is up and I need to make a decision soon. Being deployed I only have limited resources here that can give me information.
    I could not get any info about this from anyone here.

    1. There's e-5's and up in class. If your able to find a spot in 35p either from your state or in the RA then you should be able to and if your language is needed and you DLPT then you can skip DLI training.

  3. My husband is an active duty US Army, his current MOS is 92A and would like to re-class to 35P. He has spoken to his retention and now is gathering whatever needed for the process to start. He speaks 3 languages including English and had taken DLPT for one of his foreign language. His other languages are German and Indonesian, but he was told that the Army is not in need of those 2 languages so he would be learning other language. Our question is, does this mean that he needs to take DLAB as well? Thank you in advance

  4. Hey SFC J, i am active duty in a balanced MOS, wanted to re-class to 35P. I have a DLPT 3/2 in french, took a DLAB failed it. My question is can i request a waiver for the DLAB and send my package in? Also i am currently in my reenlistment window.

    1. As I mentioned in this particular blog post, I am not the one to ask about waivers. You need to see your Career Counselor.

  5. Hi, SFC J. Thank you for setting up this website. I am a naturalized citizen orginally from Taiwan. I speak and write Chinese fluently. I also have a college degree. I am very interested in becoming a linguist in the army and possibly working for intelligence agencies in the future. Does the army needs linguist that knows CHinese now? I read the official webpage stress the need of Arabic language, but not CHinese. And do you know what works the Linguist in Chinese might do? I love to listen to any advice you give me too.

    1. Chinese is just as needed as Arabic right now.

  6. Im on my reenlisment window and i want to reclass as a linguist but i really want to be a spanish linguist.. when u reclass do you have the chance to pick a language or do you just get assingned to a critical one ?

    1. Usually only assigned critical ones unless you are already proficient.

  7. Nice blog SFC J! This has been needed for a while now!

  8. SFC J,

    I am a Future Soldier going active as a 35M, currently in the DEP and shipping soon. I am coming in with three foreign languages and smoked the DLAB, but after reading this post, it sort of deflated my hopes of doing anything with either the languages I currently have, or the prospect of getting sent for another.

    That said, I wanted to post and send a sincere thank you for writing out these FAQs and providing this info; I've been met with quite a lot of misinformation out there dealing with linguists/language, and these more or less answered some of my central questions.

    Despite 35M not being slotted by language, I would still like to take DLPTs and be coded for them if possible, if nothing else than to show up as an additional qualification in the ERB or something. I had a couple of related questions:

    - When would you recommend taking the DLPT(s)? it sounds like quite a time-crunch to take them, at least from what you mention at Ft. Bliss. Would there be time at AIT or should I wait?
    - Have you ever done an OPI as part of your language qualification, and if so, any tips or info you can provide?
    - Any chance that other internationally-recognized language proficiency certifications (i.e. the European framework - C2, etc.) can be used to demonstrate proficiency? Shot in the dark on that one..I am thinking DLPTs/OPI would be the only thing that matters, since it follows the ILR proficiency scale..or vice-versa, whichever came first.

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Like the others here, sorry for the delay, I was deployed.

      - You probably won't have time at AIT (you're probably already graduating soon, haha, sorry again for the delay). I'd just take it at your first duty station. Most 35Ms are in language-coded billets, even though the Army doesn't actually use or slot people based on language codes, if that makes sense.

      - Yes, you do OPI on several occasions in the DoD. First is upon graduation from DLI. Also if you go to DLI as a Military Language Instructor (MLI). Lastly, if your language does not have a valid DLPT. Otherwise the OPI is almost unheard of. For example, I have certified annually since 2005 and have only taken an OPI once (for graduation).

      - No to your last question, you must be proficient in the DLPT. It is the only acceptable qualification for payment purposes. Conversely, upon getting out of the Army, some government services do not recognize the DLPT and require the State Department or whatever exam.

  9. I am an old guy (retired Jan 87).

    I can not find a reference to what were the requirements for the award of Language proficiency ratings. I remember that to be eligible for a 5/5, 5/4, 4/5 rating one had to be categorized as a Native Speaker. I do not recall what were the pre-requisites for the Army to categorize someone as a Native Speaker of a specific language.

    Could you help me out on this?

    If my memory serves me correctly, a proficiency rating of 5/5, 5/4, 4/5 regardless of Language Proficiency Exam scores required being categorized as a Native Speaker.
    Ratings of 4/4, 4/3, 3/4 regardless of Language Proficiency Exam scores also had additional Native Speaker or a hybrid near native requirement.

    When I went to DLI/FLC (back 4 decades ago), the highest awarded ratings upon graduation were 3/3.
    If you completed the course with a grade point average of 93% through 100% you were awarded a 3/3.

    Additionally, one of the basic requirement to apply for a Direct Appointment to Warrant Officer (Decades ago) was to have a minimum 3/3 rating.

    Any information would be appreciated.

    I was a 98G4LCMC8 and as a Chief Warrant Officer a 988A - Voice Intercept Technician.
    However, like I mentioned, that was decades ago.

    Thank you for your time.

    1. Byron,

      Sorry for the delayed response, I was deployed, and just returned.

      To receive anything above a 3/3, you must request and be granted to take the advanced DLPT. The requirement to take that DLPT to is to have scored a 3/3 on the regular DLPT. The minimum passing score on the advanced is a 3/3.

      At DLI you receive a rating in listening, reading, and oral (it's not based on GPA) based on the DLPT. The highest you can still score is a 3/3. Then you can request to take the higher exam.

      I've actually never known someone to do this.

      Right now there are no direct commission requirements to Warrant because with the downsizing there are no direct commissions. The last time I heard of direct commissions were in 2006, they direct commissioned 35Ms into 351M. They were actually recruiting SIGINT warrants into the HUMINT field.

  10. I was wondering if there still exist point waivers for the DLAB I am trying to reclass, (scored a 104), if so how do I get this started

    1. Honestly, I don't know much about waivers. The Army changes it's policies so frequently that it's hard to say for sure. Like if one person received a waiver, I couldn't tell you if you could, in fact, receive a waiver as well. Your best bet is to talk to your career counselor.

    2. Thank you sgt, My career counselor does not know

      My other question is am I able to take the test again?
      I looked online and I didn't get enough information

    3. Below is an excerpt from AR 11-6, The Army Foreign Language

      Program:B score.3–5. Approval for Defense Language Aptitude Battery reevaluation
      a. Personnel may be reevaluated on the DLAB up to two times after a 6 month waiting period each time, if they have not achieved the minimum qualifying score (95) on the initial test or first retest.
      b. Requests for more than two retests. Requests for exceptions to the waiting period, and requests to retest after attaining the minimum score or higher, should be sent to Commander, AHRC (AHRC–PDE), 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332–0472.

  11. Hi, I'm a russian crypto linguist in the marine corps and I'm about to hit the end of my 5 year enlistment. I can't stand being in the marine corps but want to advance as a linguist so I'm looking into reenlisting in the Army. Do you know where russian linguists in the army get stationed besides fort meade? And have you ever herd of anyone reenlisting as a linguist from another branch? Thanks

    1. Well what you need to understand is that the Army doesn't slot Soldiers by language. So a Russian linguist doesn't necessarily get stationed anywhere specifically unless it's a nominative assignment. What I mean by that is, you could go to 4th Infantry Division and deploy to Iraq as a Russian linguist. The Army doesn't really care what language you are, unfortunately. They just assign you an interpreter.

  12. Just wanted to say thanks for the example 4187. By the way, are you still a 35M or did your request get approved?

    1. No problem, and I decided not to submit the 4187 so I'm still a 35M

    2. I see. I only ask because I'm also an E7 and was wondering how the reclass process went. I understand they rarely take E7s but according to the latest in/out calls, they will make exceptions for certain languages. I guess I'll drop the 4187 and see what happens.

    3. Can't hurt man, good luck

  13. What are the most common duity stations for 35P - portuguese?

  14. hi. i am 11B. I just took DLPT. I got level 3 on reading anf level2+ on listening. i am trying to get top secret clearance. but i heard that it will take one year to let me get top secret clearance. is there anyway to let me reclass to 35p before i get top secret clearance? i stayed in infantry unit 4 years already. i can not wait to get out my unit.

  15. Hello I actually wantes say thank you so.Mich for creating this great blog. I actually speak Punjabi and Hindi pretty well but not fluently and wanted to ask would I have a higher in learning these languages? Also are these languages in high demand?

  16. I have a question about DLI:// Do soldier get promoted during that time they spend learning a language? I know some soldier go as E1-E3 to basic: Reason i am asking is because i see some language can be up to 14month in training // (I am not in any branch//sorry if this is a silly/stupid question.))