'Translator reaches out as an unofficial ambassador'

From this:

Every time this company of Marines comes across a suspicious Iraqi or discovers a stash of documents, the call goes out for Tillmans.

``Get the translator up here!'' Capt. Greg Grunwald yells into the radio several times a day...

When he's not interviewing suspects or translating documents, you might find him sitting on the dirt floor of a Nasiriyah home sharing tea with a circle of curious Iraqis...

He hopes that by spreading the American gospel, he can help to set the foundation for a postwar rebuilding process. So far, he says, the response has been surprisingly positive...

he studied Arabic language and culture for 1 1/2 years at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., where he earned an associate's degree in Arabic.

It's good to see that we're participating in outreach. In addition to Tillmans, perhaps we should, oh, I dunno, use some real Iraqis?

The U.S. is the most heavily advertised-to nation on Earth. Yet, we're communicating with the Iraqis using leaflets and radio. Iraqi TV has been on the air - even if intermittently - for the entire duration of the war. Why are we unable to replace its broadcasts with our own, or at least run our own TV broadcasts alongside theirs? What better way of presenting our case directly to the people that we want to liberate. Whoever thought it was a good idea to allow the image and memory of Saddam to be beamed into millions of homes while we want him to be perceived as gone?


The Modern Standard Arabic Course at Monterey takes 63 weeks. Arabic is not an easy language for English-speakers to learn. Nine months ago the Marine Corps tested all the new enlistees coming in for language aptitude. The few that passed were "strongly encouraged" to sign up for that MOS, but it is a long pipe line that takes a typical monolingual WASP American kid and turns him into a competent Marine and fluent Arabic-speaker. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot being done to accelerate that process. I know for a fact there are good Marines refinishing doors in the billets waiting for their course to start.