Mission Essential Conversations: SOF Linguists – Missions, Wins, and Opportunities

HERNDON, Virginia, July 30, 2020 – On July 13, Mission Essential hosted a virtual roundtable moderated by Bryan Hurley, Mission Essential VP of Business Development. Hurley was joined by two experienced SOF linguists, Ross and ‘Ahmad,’ and Mission Essential Director for European Operations Intelligence & Language Programs Jeff Malcolm. The seasoned group of professionals discussed their time in the field and the role of linguists in SOF success. A recording of the interview was livestreamed via YouTube on July 28.

Ross and Ahmad have years of experience working with special operations in multiple capacities. Both linguists have provided critical support to warfighters as a part of the Mission Essential team in Afghanistan.

The group discussed the vital services linguists provide for their teams, outside exceptional translation services, throughout the roundtable. Malcolm explained, “When we send a linguist out… [and] they’re in a situation, they are expected to do a lot of other things, including cultural advisory services… I hear consistently from the customer that the cultural perspective that the linguists bring is absolutely critical to mission success.”

Ross, drawing on his years working with Mission Essential, explained further, “As a linguist, there are some keywords and dialects we all have to learn to accommodate the diversity we see on missions… You have to be prepared physically and mentally… warzone ready.”

“Being a linguist is not just the ability to speak a language; it has so many other factors that one needs to learn in the practical world on a day-to-day basis.” Ahmad said, “I wear many hats. Whether it’s cultural advisor, team player, another set of eyes to ensure that we, the team, are secure.”

This roundtable is a part of a larger webinar series, Mission Essential Conversations: A SITREP to trending matters of language and intel affairs.

Mission Essential, founded by U.S. Army SOF veteran and current Chairman Gregory K. Miller, is a trusted partner to the Defense and Intelligence Communities, and a leading provider of language and cultural advisory services, intelligence analysis and operations support, ISR solutions and technology, and cyberspace superiority. Mission Essential executes prime contracts with numerous Intelligence Community members, as well as with the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force; U.S. Central, European, and Africa Commands; and the State Department.