Title: Now You’re Speaking My Language: NSA’s Linguistic Resources (Part I)

Release Date: 2018-03-01

Document Date: 2004-06-29

Description: This post from the NSA’s internal newsletter SIDToday introduces a series on the agency’s struggle to find qualified language experts: see the Intercept article NSA Used Porn to “Break Down Detainees” in Iraq — and Other Revelations From 297 Snowden Documents, 1 March 2018.

Document: DYNAMIC PAGE -- HIGHEST POSSIBLE CLASSIFICATION IS
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(U) Now You're Speaking My Language: NSA's Linguistic Resources
(Part I)

FROM: SIGINT Communications and Renee Meyer, NSA/CSS Senior Language
Authority (SLA)

Unknown

Run Date: 06/29/2004

FROM: SIGINT Communications and Renee Meyer, NSA/CSS Senior
Language Authority (SLA)

Unknown

(S) " NSA/CSS does not have enough Cryptologic Language
Analysts with the skill level necessary to prosecute cryptologic
language missions, especially in the Global War on Terrorism ."

This statement is the opening line of an NSA report to the Joint
Requirements Oversight Council on the status of our language
capabilities. The ability to understand a target's language is more
crucial than it has ever been, and this shortcoming must be
rectified. In this special mini-series, we'll look at the nature of the
problem and describe some of the NSA/CSS initiatives to fix it.

(C) First, what kinds of cryptologic language skills does the SIGINT
System need? The NSA/CSS Senior Language Authority (SLA),
together with target offices and experts, documents all cryptologic
language missions worldwide (2300+), along with the language
skill level required to prosecute those missions. Currently 85% of
the NSA/CSS cryptologic missions require a skill level of 3
or better , meaning that the cryptologic language analyst must be
able to read and listen "between the lines" to unformatted,
unpredictable discourse that includes analysis, commentary,
opinion, arguments, diplomatic exchanges, and extended
outbursts. In addition to the level-3 nature of the discourse itself,
the language analyst, as the unintended recipient of the message,
must deal with "Signals Intelligence factors" such as garbled text,
incomplete messages, lack of redundancy in the exchange,
uncertain context, and distortion. The demands on the language
analyst are high.

(S) The SLA also maintains a real-time Language Readiness Index
(LRI), which shows the percentage of cryptologic language
missions being prosecuted by "qualified" language analysts. (There
are over 6500 Cryptologic Language Analysts - CLAs - worldwide.)
CLAs are considered "qualified" if their language test scores are
equal to or higher than the language level required for their job.
The overall worldwide LRI is 51%, with 80% representing a
minimum acceptable risk. In other words, only half of the
missions are being prosecuted by qualified personnel .

(C) The number of mission areas that demand high-level language
proficiency continues to increase, with over 25% of current
cryptologic missions requiring a level higher than 3, requiring the
CLA to read and listen "beyond the lines." The language level for
many missions, particularly those related to counterterrorism and
force protection, continues to be measured at the extremely
difficult 4/4+ level because the targets "talk around" the subject
and use what appears to be almost gibberish metalanguage and
idiolects. Targets are communicating via a variety of 21st century
technologies, using very colloquial speech and writing in their

a [ES:
(U) Linguistic

1. Now You're Speaking
My Language: NSA's
Linguistic Resources
(Part I)

2. Now You're Speaking
My Language: NSA's

Linguistic Resources

(Part II)

3. Now You're Speaking
My Language: NSA's

Linguistic Resources

(Part III and Final)

4. Filling 'Critically
Needed Language'

Gaps

particular dialects, rather than the standard written language.

(C) The 2/2 language standard of yesterday can no longer suffice
to provide the actionable intelligence that is critically needed to
support our troops and high-level policy leaders. In April 2002,
DIRNSA documented for the record that the operational standard
required for NSA/CSS cryptologic language work is level 3/3. (See
announcement .)

(C) As you can see, the demands are great... but NSA/CSS is
taking steps to get the language capabilities it needs. Read about
some of them in part II, coming soon.

"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid comms)."

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DERIVED FROM: NSA/CSSM 1-52, DATED 08 JAN 2007 DECLASSIFY ON: 20320108

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