of the LDS return missionaries, we have probably one of the better
concentrations of linguists in the country," Warr said. "We
have a lot of soldiers who come in knowing foreign languages."
estimates that 95 percent of the linguists in his company gained
their skills through work with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. Roberts and Warr both acquired languages through missionary
service themselves. Roberts is fluent in Swedish, Warr in Norwegian.
branch of the Army has their own reserve units, each with their
own specialty," Warr said. "We have artillery units, medical
units, infantry. We have so many people who know languages here
in Utah, the linguist unit just kind of fell into place."
with the LDS Church, however, has not provided the Guard with all
the language preparation its soldiers need. The Church does not
proselytize in Islamic nations, says Dale Bills of the Latter-day
Saints public affairs office. The Guard, consequently, has depended
on the Defense Language Institute of Monterey, Calif. The Institute,
a language facility run by the Department of Defense, has drilled
recruits in Pashto, Farsi and other languages needed in the Afghan
is where Phillip Cooper of St. George is preparing to go, though
the new recruit won't be studying Farsi or Pashto. Japanese is Cooper's
language of choice. The 29-year-old Skywest employee selected the
Asian language, he says, because learning its characters struck
him as a challenge. Cooper will spend between 12 and 14 months studying
those characters at the Monterey-based Institute.
Sept. 11 I felt like I needed to get involved somehow," Cooper
said. "I called the nationwide National Guard number. I had
no idea about the linguist unit, but they put me in contact with
Sergeant (Kole) Staheli, who is the recruiter here. He mentioned
the linguists. I didn't know a language. He said, well, we can send
you for some training for that."
thought this way I could be involved and do some personal growth,"
defeat of the Taliban may signal the winding down of Operation Enduring
Freedom, but it certainly won't mean lax times for St. George's
soldiers. The detachment that has aided in the Afghan campaign this
year and sent translators to Honduras for a medical mission last
year is now preparing for security detail at the 2002 Winter Olympic
Games in Salt Lake City.
Utah Guard has been practicing skirmish lines and riot control in
preparation for the event. The St. George detachment, in fact, recently
returned from training in Orem, preparation held in coordination
with the Salt Lake Sheriff's Department.
there to give a show of force, basically, to handle out-of-control
crowds," Warr said. "Groups have every right to go up
there and protest. But if they start doing illegal things —
breaking things, vandalizing, getting out of control —
then we would come in and try to stop that."
the St. George detachment ready for that mission? Absolutely, says
about a year of training for our mission," the sergeant said.
"We're pretty confident in what we're able to do."