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Armed Forces: Languages

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Farsi/Dari, (b) Arabic, (c) Urdu, (d) Pashto, (e) Swahili, (f) Uyghur, (g) Uzbek (h) Tajik and (i) Kurdish speaking military personnel are serving in the British armed forces. (154261)

The numbers of presently serving military personnel known to have skills of at least standardized language profile (SLP) Level 1 in the specified languages are listed in the following table. The numbers are listed in two categories “tested” and “untested”. Those included in the “tested” column have confirmed their skill in a military language examination within the last three years and their qualification is current. Those included in the “untested” column were either examined more than three years ago and their qualification has expired, or are known to have some level of skill which has not been confirmed by military language examination.

Language

Tested

Untested

Farsi

72

79

Dari

12

1

Arabic

304

1,393

Urdu

14

41

Pashto

90

5

Swahili

0

13

There are no records of any personnel having skills in Uyghur, Uzbek, Tajik or Kurdish.

The table does not include records for special forces personnel.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British military personnel have received training in (a) Farsi/Dari, (b) Arabic, (c) Urdu, (d) Pashto, (e) Swahili, (f) Uyghur, (g) Uzbek (h) Tajik and (i) Kurdish in each year since 1997. (154262)

The following tables show the number of persons receiving training to at least standardized language profile (SLP) Level 1 in the languages for which information is requested. Despite extensive trawls, it is only possible to provide annual figures for Arabic. For the other languages, an aggregate figure for the entire period since 1997 has been collated.

Arabic

1997

85

1998

99

1999

50

2000

37

2001

116

2002

73

2003

116

2004

127

2005

101

2006

122

2007

1233

1 To date

Other languages: 1997-20071

Farsi

163

Dari

56

Urdu

41

Pashto

169

Swahili

5

Kurdish

2

1 To date

No personnel have received any training in Uyghur, Uzbek or Tajik since 1997.

Over the 10 year period, training organisations and military language examination systems have evolved considerably. This may have led to loss of data for the earlier part of the period, with the result that totals for each language are potentially understated. The figures quoted include special forces personnel.