The Air Force has selected 213 officers and officer candidates for an in-depth language training program.
The Language Enabled Airmen Program — which already has more than 1,300 airmen participating — aims to make sure the Air Force has airmen across many specialties who speak foreign languages well and are familiar with other cultures. Applicants must already speak a foreign language at least somewhat, and the program develops their skills through online classes and language immersion.
“Through LEAP, we’re providing the cross-culturally competent, language-enabled airmen that commanders need to accomplish their missions,” said LEAP operations manager Capt. Breezy Long. “We’re not taking people out of their day jobs for LEAP, but we’re making sure these airmen can accomplish their day jobs in another language and another culture — something our service members are called to do more and more in today’s complex global environment.”
The 213 new participants in LEAP, all combined, speak 42 languages and come from career fields such as medical, acquisition, communications, support, special operations and aviation. Spanish is the most commonly spoken language among the 329 active-duty officers and 88 cadets who were qualified applicants. Other less-commonly spoken languages included Amharic, Burmese, Hindi and Swedish.
The 12 experts on the Air Force Culture and Language Center selection board evaluated applicants’ language ability, based on their scores on the Defense Language Proficiency Test, and overall academic performance, with an emphasis on their foreign language course performance. The board also considered applicants’ performance and training reports, and their commanders’ endorsement letters.
Boards to select LEAP participants meet twice a year. The next board, which will select enlisted candidates, is planned for spring.