SAN FRANCISCO -- Nine United States Army linguists, including six trained to
speak Arabic, have been dismissed from the military because they are gay.
The soldiers' dismissals come at a time when the US military is facing a critical shortage of translators and interpreters for the fight against terrorism.
Seven of the soldiers were discharged after telling superiors they were gay,
and another two got into trouble when they were caught together after curfew,
said a spokesman for the Servicemembers'
Legal Defense Network, which defends homosexuals in the military.
Six were specializing in Arabic, two were studying Korean and one was studying
Mandarin Chinese. All were at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California,
the military's primary language training center.
The US Government has aggressively recruited Arabic speakers since the September11
attacks. "We face a drastic shortage of linguists, and the direct impact of Arabic
speakers is a particular problem," said Donald Hamilton, who documented the need
for more linguists in a report to Congress as part of the National Commission
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press