Discussion in 'Int Corps' started by Sheepay, Mar 19, 2012.

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  1. Having seen the amount of information available on these boards, mostly very good, regarding the OPMI trade and training, I noticed that there is something missing for anybody considering following the alternative route. Many of the posts pertaining to Language Training are questions from other capbadges regarding embarking on a Long Language Course (LLC) as a Phase 3. Little current information is available with reference to joining the INT CORPS as a Phase 2 OPMI(L).

    MODS - I have refamiliarised myself with the board rules and am consequently thinking very carefully about what is being posted. Most of the information I'm posting will be rectifying incorrect or outdated posts that I've noticed in other threads. I have also (shamelessly!) lifted posts I have made in other threads where I think the content pertinent.

    If you notice anything that you believe should be adjusted, please do so. I do ask that you PM me with a quick note as to what and why, so that I can attempt to modify the post within the boundaries without it losing its structure.
    Similarly, if anybody who knows better than I feels that any point I've made is incorrect please post here or PM me. I am by no means infallible, I'm just attempting to do my best.

    You may notice that the feel of the post is similar to those very good threads about OPMI trade and training. This is because with the first draft I've used them as a template. Please read this as a testament to them as opposed to bold plagiarism!

    In recent years the Intelligence Corps took the decision to change the way they recruit Linguists, OPMI(L). The Corps used to train all Phase 2 in the dark arts of Templer Company (OPMI), and those who expressed an interest in studying languages would eventually change tack into the OMPI(L) trade stream. For its own reasons, the INT CORPS chose that OPMI(L) would stand alone as a separate trade, rather than a specialisation.

    NOTE - This does NOT mean that if you choose to pursue a career as an OPMI you would be barred entry from the OPMI(L) trade later on in your career. Nor does it mean that if you asked to embark upon an LLC course during your career you would necessarily have to transfer to the OPMI(L) trade. Something to bear in mind though;

    At the time of writing it would appear that OPMI(L) promotion as a JNCO is faster than that of an OPMI. There are instances of OPMI personnel being loaded onto an LLC immediately after their OPMI Templer Phase 2 course as Lance Corporal and being given the opportunity to transfer to the OPMI(L) trade. Those who chose to transfer did pick up their Corporal during the course, without ever having been on strength at any unit outside of training. Those who did not transfer to OPMI(L) remained as Lance Corporal.

    I have been informed by another board member that the powers-that-be are currently scrutinising the parity of OPMI(L)/OPMI promotion. There are issues regarding course length and timing which may impact a career. If he wishes to post in this thread to explain properly then I'm sure it would be appreciated.

    You will attend the same selection as any other potential INT CORPS recruit at DISC, depending upon your MLAT score and other factors you may very well be offered OPMI(L). If you are, very well done you!

    No information will be given regarding the selection procedure. Everything you need to know will be provided by the relevant bodies. Prepare as well as you can and, just as importantly, enjoy it.

    I will not cover Phase 1 as I'm sure it's changed. Suffice to say it will be unpleasant at times, enjoyable at times, memorable throughout. And to echo Howayman, it will end. Eventually. And when it does . . .

    As it stands, all Phase 2 OPMI(L) trade training is held at DSL(C) in Bedfordshire. This is housed at DISC, with which you will be familiar from your INT CORPS selection process.

    The camp is green and leafy. The gym is excellent, with very good opening hours. The scoffhouse is also very good. The NAAFI shop does hold whatever essentials you may need when a big shop isn't required, and the NAAFI bar is a pleasant enough environment for a few quiet drinks when you find the time. The nearest village, Shefford, is a 10 minute walk and hosts a supermarket, a couple of hairdressers, a few take-aways and enough pubs to keep you occupied, including an excellent karaoke night every Friday. Nearby is a 24-hour garage and a 24-hour supermarket should you be hung out to dry at any point.

    As a potential OPMI(L) you will now be separated from any OPMI colleagues you have in one respect - accommodation. As you are starting an 18 month course it has been decided that you need your own space in order to study efficiently. You will be placed in SLAM blocks, and for those of you unfamiliar with this terminology it means you will be living in the military equivalent of The Hilton. A huge single-man room with an en-suite bathroom and shower. In my experience, unheard of for a Phase 2 trainee. You lucky bastards.

    Those of you who are married are entitled to Married Quarters. It's up to you to make these arrangements.

    As an aside, most trainees at DISC are not allowed to drive their vehicles during the working day. Due to the distance between your accommodation and the language school this rule does not apply to you. The speed limit does. Do not get caught out.

    Upon arrival from your Phase 1 training you may have to wait a short period of time before your LLC starts. Should this be the case, you will be put in a holding platoon, designated SMD (Student Management Department?) which will attempt to keep you occupied and out of trouble. Not having ever having been placed in this holding platoon I can only pass on second-hand knowledge. By all accounts it is very well run, with plenty of time allocated to physical training and various green skills. All good stuff.

    As a rule you will conduct two physical training session a week, and be granted a sports afternoon. The gym will also be available during the evenings should you wish to conduct your own training. The PTI staff are approachable and regularly provide specialised training programmes should you wish to follow them. The camp is adjacent to a country park area which offers training opportunities including hills and cross country elements. The gym boasts cross-country, martial arts, rugby, football and boxing training amongst other disciplines should you wish to participate.

    Discipline during your tenure is fair. If you **** up, expect a rifting. The rules are minimal and sensible for a Phase 2 unit. You are a Phase 2 trainee. You may not drink in the accommodation. You may not have overnight visitors of either sex. You may not turn up to work inebriated. Be caught breaking these rules and you will suffer the appropriate consequences. If you are caught breaking these rules, or others (such as turning up late for work) then the best advice is to hold your hands up and take your punishment on the chin. Everybody makes mistakes. Not everybody is big enough to admit to them. Think carefully. Integrity is not a dirty word, and your boss is not daft.

    You will parade for kit or room inspections regularly. You will be told what is expected of you. Crack on.

    As an OPMI(L) you will be awarded the rank of Acting Lance Corporal (allowing your passing certain academic exams) at your six month point, to bring you in line with your OPMI colleagues who will now be sitting their promotional cadre. You will also be paid as a Lance Corporal, albeit lower band.
    You are a Lance Corporal in everything but name, and will be expected to act as such. Fear not, you will be guided in this by DSL staff. Be very careful. You will be expected to act with the values and standards of a JNCO whilst also having that rank and responsibility questioned by others. How you handle this will be down to yourself. People react in very different ways.

    And finally, the meat and bones of why you're here. Your language course. DSL Chicksands or DSL(C).

    DSL(C) is a very well-run organisation, a branch that answers to DSL (Beaconsfield) which is where the majority of Phase 3 students (who may come from a variety of capbadges) will conduct their LLC. The majority of DSL(C) are Phase 2 personnel from all three services, with a very slight smattering of Phase 3 personnel.
    The Chain of Command (CoC) in DSL(C) conduct both elements of the language training and administration of the wing. They are very, very good at what they do, or at least I have not come across a single one who has not been anything other than professional and encouraging towards the students.

    Welfare issues in particular are handled admirably. The military staff take time to know their soldiers, and as such many potential issues are headed off at the pass. The staff, from the OC downwards, are all linguists and understand the pressures of the course. As such, they understand that nobody can be expected to perform in the environment whilst personal issues are taking their toll.

    It goes without saying that any previous experience in learning languages SHOULD be a massive help, in as much as you should have a very good understanding of English Grammar under your belt (absolutely essential, and Penguin produce a very good title in this area for pre-course reading). Learning what an object, subject, verb and noun are, and being able to identify them immediately in a foreign language. Also understanding the difference between direct and indirect objects will be helpful. (I'm probably giving a clue as to what I studied!)
    It should also mean that you are comfortable with your own learning style, again, something that those out of the education-loop for a while often have to learn in tandem with the course, for the first few months at least.

    For instance, I concentrated heavily for the first few months on studying vocabulary lists. It was only after a few months that I realised I best learned the language by listening to the exercises, and therefore hearing the spoken language in context. A good friend of mine can be given a verb and instinctively know how to conjugate it any given tense. Natural ability. Understanding YOUR learning style will pay dividends.

    Thiat said, having languages under your belt does not guarantee you'll find the course easier, or be a great linguist. I had a number of bods studying alongside me who had already studied degrees in one or more languages and time proved that the field levelled out. One of the younger lads straight from Phase 1 had never studied languages before but was the star of the course without studying, he was a natural linguist and helped everyone out. One of the lads was a little older and had dabbled in languages before as an interest, he worked very hard and was again a model for the rest of the class. Another lad was a lot older, had a degree in a European language, lauded this over us for the first few months and then started struggling despite never putting his books down.

    I cannot compare it to a University-run course, but suffice to say that 18 months is NOT a long time to learn a language, particularly one in the Arabic script. Take into account that you will also be learning the history, current affairs and cultural material related to not only the target language but of the areas surrounding it. Add in PT, duties, generally getting fucked around (thankfully the latter being kept to the bare minimum!) and trying to keep some semblance of a social life.

    As mentioned, you will be expected to apply yourself in the four main disciplines of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking a foreign language. This will mean reading foreign newspapers, writing essays or translations, listening to news reports and speaking to your instructors. You cannot do this without understanding the grammar and learning the vocabulary. Grammar is taught during the working day, by your instructors. However, no time is allocated during the working day to learning vocabulary. Learning vocabulary, in a foreign language, in an alien script. Spelling it perfectly, and pronouncing it perfectly. This aspect is in your hands alone. It becomes easier, as you better understand the language and where it derives from it WILL become easier, but the first 6 months in particular are essential As with anything, learn the basics and everything else will follow . . . but this is in YOUR own time and you MUST be committed to it.

    I'll say this now. I have heard the odd grumbling about tutors (native tutors) in other departments, but the staff in the wing I trained with were cracking instructors. They might have moaned at the weather, but they love what they do and their enthusiasm rubs off on all the students. They have a real passion for teaching, and a very real desire to impart the essence of their culture. They constantly encouraged us, spent extra hours going over grammar and vocabulary. They organised outings to areas of importance to the target language, be it shows, museums or restaurants. Most importantly, they understood the wall we were throwing ourselves at and did whatever they could to make the process easier.
    It might also be worth mentioning at this point that the nations your native instructors hail from are states that have witnessed unrest for many, many years. Your instructors have seen and witnessed events that you cannot possibly comprehend. At times they may well impart some of their stories. I can speak for my entire course when I say that on many occasions we were left speechless, some reduced to tears, by personal and frank accounts of what they have seen and been involved in. It has been a truly humbling experience in that regard.

    As for the assessments, for the first 6 months we were tested on approximately 180 words a week, sometimes a few more, sometimes a lot more, occasionally a few less. Regular progress tests in the four disciplines of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking were conducted, and any drop in marks was seriously pored over. The powers that be are not loathe to remove people from training if they can't keep up. That said, as in all things, the group is under the same strain and pulls together for the most part. Bear in mind, if you don't meet the grade you will conduct remedial training. if you continue to fail, you will be pushed elsewhere.

    Not one person on my course spent more than one weekend a month off camp, because Friday nights are a night off but Saturday/Sunday are days to catch up on work. Especially in the initial six months, social lives (except that of the course as a dynamic) have to be put on the back-burner.

    This was the course as I saw it. If you want it then go for it, the Army will decide if you're fit to be a linguist and then you're ready to go. I loved the course as it stands, and wish it'd been an arena I'd specialised in years ago. But it is not for everyone, so you have to be very committed. The biggest danger is self-motivation, as soon as that slips then marks slip, then apathy kicks in. Apathy becomes a bad attitude, and then people get very pissed off. If you can keep your eyes on the prize and maintain a cheery disposition then you're in for a good start.

    At the end of all this, you'll be put through a 4 week promotional cadre. The details of which won't be published here, but which will qualify you to hold the rank of substantive Lance Corporal and are covered elsewhere. You WILL be prepared by this point.

    Postings - The postings involved in the OPMI(L) trade are mostly very sensitive, and you will be made aware of them at some point.

    This thread has not been designed to bring up any competition between trades, irritate anyone or burn any bridges. I sincerely hope it helps anyone considering the 'other trade.' I obviously glean nothing but possible limited SJARS or PPP's from posting it.

    TO ALL - This is a first draft. If anybody has any questions then I ask you to PM or post here. Rather than reply on the thread I will edit the original post AND reply to the PM with the relevant information.
    • Like Like x 7
  2. ******* darksiders.

    only kidding :)

    excellent post, thanks for all the effort that has obviously gone into it. suggest we give it a few days for intelligent feedback / proposals for revision by those in the know, and then i'll make it a sticky.
  3. Cheers very much for that, I sincerely hopes it'll help dispel any fears and answer most of the questions potential linguists may be facing.
  4. I could not have said better myself - spot on and I'm sure it will be of use for those considering the OPMI(L) route in the future - sticky?
  5. Very insightful post! Could we get any details as to what a normal day in the job would be at the end of training?
  6. That would depend entirely upon your posting, which would (as is always the case) depend upon the requirement at the time, and to some extent, which language you have studied.

    As I stated, jobs within the linguist community are often very sensitive. Even after concluding an 18 month LLC you will have very little idea as to what your day-to-day job will entail until you start your next phase of training and arrive on posting. During your course your sole focus is to become as proficient in the target language as possible.

    If anybody who feels more confident than myself would like to furnish this thread with more details within the boundaries, then please go ahead. I don't feel comfortable doing so.

    Sorry I can't be of any more help, but I hope you've gleaned something from the above.
  7. As unpredictable as it may be, it sounds very interesting.
  8. For anyone interested, I took this out of leaflet in the AFCO recently:


    Being a linguist in the Army can get you closer to what’s happening on the ground than anyone else.

    It is vital that, no matter what country the Army operates in, it understands the language and the local population. That’s where Military Intelligence Linguists come in. These highly skilled soldiers work in combat zones translating intercepted communications to predict what the enemy is planning to do next. They also spend time talking to local people to build trust and improve relationships.
    Military linguists are taught from beginner to expert level. Their fluency is then tested in a range of training scenarios, from gaining intelligence to deciphering enemy communications.

    Staff Sergeant James Jones has worked as an Army Linguist for 16 years and speaks three languages.

    Why did you become a linguist?
    When I joined the Army, the recruiter realised that I had GCSE German and told me about the Intelligence Corps. I now speak Russian, Serbo-Croat and the Afghan language Pashtu, but you can learn other languages.

    Is the training hard?
    It’s very intense. It’s an 18-month course, with eight hours of lessons a day and two hours of homework. It’s tough but at the end of it, you have a qualification that you can convert into a Masters degree.

    What happens next?
    Once you pass, you do another six months’ training to apply your skills to a particular job.

    What work do you do?
    You could end up talking to foreign lawyers, politicians and doctors, or working as an interpreter. It’s a cliché, but every day really is different.''
  9. See my bold. Talking to people (linguists) out in theatre I doubt they'd agree other than the SF (Dari/Pashto) and Op SAMSON (mainly Pashto) lot. Admittedly these were those who had done Dari or Pashto and weren't badged Int. Apparently those clever chaps/chapettes got to sit in air conned rooms a bit further back in an area the size of Wales with headphones on. Sexy.
  10. I'm very sorry, I don't understand your post.

    Completely aside from tours the job is a sensitive one. That's the impression I get, as even fully trained linguists are not told what their job entails until they start SIGINT courses. Which other job teaches you a skill for 18 months whilst not telling you in what capacity you will be utilising it?
  11. You make it sound as if SIGINT courses are a mandatory part of a linguists career. I wasn't aware that was a part of their training.
  12. If you are interested in a career as a linguist in intelligence production, then SIGINT is the only option. If you want a job as a handler's bitch gathering information, ask to be a HUMINT 'terp. This is not intended as a pop at HUMINTers; from a linguist perspective, the two roles are very different. One role assists in gathering information, the other is key to producing actionable intelligence.
  13. i know where you're coming from... but gathering information accurately is also key to producing actionable intelligence. HUMINT and SIGINT both have strengths and weaknesses, both are vital linguist roles, and it's partisan to suggest otherwise.
  14. SIGINT does appear to be a mandatory part of a linguists training.
    In fact, as an OPMI(L) you are not considered trade-trained and thus are still Phase 2 until after you've successfully completed the SIGINT course post-LLC.

    There are instances of students completing the LLC, not getting the clearance required for SIGINT and therefore not being loaded on to the courses, and having to retrade to OPMI. The RAF have a different policy, where anyone failing to achieve clearance for SIGINT is considered trade-trained by virtue of their completing the LLC, and will be found an alternative opening, such as DHU.
  15. It was someone from DHO who briefed that they 'gather information' rather than produce intelligence and I fully understand why they made that stipulation, considering the audience being briefed.

    There was no suggestion that linguists employed in HUMINT or SIGINT were any less vital. However, the roles are very different. As a HUMINT 'terp the linguist is an interpreter. Linguists working in SIGINT are expected to be more than just transcribers.