PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 23, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today returned to the FDefense Language Institute Foreign Language Center he championed as a congressman to praise the next generation of military linguists he called critical to the United States’ future.
Panetta told an assembly of about 2,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines standing in formation on Soldier Field overlooking Monterey Bay that the language and cultural training they are receiving here is critical to the nation’s economic, diplomatic and security interests. “It is absolutely vital to what the United States is all about,” he said.
“We live in a global world,” the secretary said. “We have to understand that world if we … are going to be able to not only defend this country, but to extend our relationships to others so that we can work together to defend the world that we live in.”
“The reality is that we have to reflect the nation we live in and we have to reflect the world we are a part of,” he continued. “Languages are the key to understanding that world.
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