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Language Skills

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel in each unit stationed in Iraq (a) speak and (b) have received instruction in Arabic. (97809)

It is not possible to provide details of how many personnel in each unit stationed in Iraq speak Arabic or have received formal Arabic language education as the information is not held centrally and to collate the information would be at disproportionate cost. However, PJHQ have identified a formal requirement for 30 official interpreters. These are both civilian contractors and military personnel. I should stress this does not include locally employed personnel, many of whom provide interpretation and translation services and those individuals who might speak Arabic but are not official interpreters.

In terms of troops receiving Arabic instruction, there are three courses specialising in Iraqi language training open to troops prior to deployment to Iraq; Survival Standard (one soldier per sub-unit/four gunners per squadron), Basic Patrol Arabic (Junior Commanders and soldiers) and Operational Linguist. Details of those deployed to Iraq that have undertaken this training is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All personnel deploying to Iraq will receive some form of language training in the form of their unit level pre-deployment training, known as Cascade training. Once deployed, further continuation training for all ranks is conducted. In addition, every soldier is issued with a language card which is taught during pre-deployment training.