Panetta Cracks Down on CIA Foreign-Language Deficiency
Under a new policy announced today by CIA director Leon Panetta, an intelligence officer can’t be promoted to the agency’s highest rank — the Senior Intelligence Service — without a demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language. From a CIA release:
While many senior Agency officers have tested proficient in a foreign language over the course of their careers, some have not kept their skills current. Under the new policy, promotions to SIS for most analysts and operations officers will be contingent on demonstrating foreign language competency. If an officer is promoted to SIS and does not meet the foreign language requirement within one year, he or she will return to their previous, lower grade. This is a powerful incentive to maintain and improve skills critical to the Agency’s global mission. Languages play a key role in the CIA’s work at all career levels.
“The stricter requirement for SIS promotion,” said Panetta, “is meant to ensure that leadership on this vital initiative comes from the executive level. With an unwavering commitment from SIS officers—to both lead by example and to support language proficiency at all levels—we will reach not only our language goals, but our ultimate objective: an Agency that is better positioned to protect our nation in the years ahead.”