According to Foreign Policy, The Trump Administration is slashing funds for the Defense Language Institute’s overseas immersion program in order to divert funds to more military resources. Around 700 foreign-language students were preparing for their immersion courses when their funding was abruptly pulled. The Defense Language Institute is responsible for providing linguistic instruction to the Department of Defense, other Federal Agencies, and individual customers. The institute provides services for active and reserve military members, foreign military students, and civilian personnel working in the federal government and various law enforcement agencies. Students who participate in the institute’s in-country immersion programs attend language and culture classes with the host institute along with out-of-class activities and weekly excursions.
Retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry warned last year that budget cuts to the Defense Language Institute would be detrimental. He wrote in Inside Higher Ed, “Although they are saddled with abstract names which make them seem distant from the concerns of people outside the Washington Beltway, Title VI of the 1958 National Defense Education Act and the educational exchange programs in the Department of State are critical to our nation’s ability to teach languages vital to our national security and economic growth. The Language Resource Centers and the National Resource Centers funded through Title VI help support more than 20 vital Department of Defense language programs, foreign area officer training for the U.S. Army and advanced language education for federal employees in dozens of government agencies. Ultimately, if such programs are cut, we will be less able to communicate with and understand our allies and potential adversaries abroad, and would be severely hindered in our negotiations.”
Defense Language Institute spokesperson Natela Cutter insisted that the budget cut is temporary, and that the school intends to restart its immersion program in 2020.