“It’s been almost a decade since the United States began its wars in countries that most Americans can’t find on a map, let alone understand the native language. The military’s tried nearly everything to get around its language barriers, from spending big bucks trying to ape Star Trek’s Universal Translator to hiring expensive contractors who speak Arabic, Pashto and Dari. One defense giant thinks it’s got a better idea: war-zone conference calling.
Lockheed Martin is rolling out a Dial-a-Translator system it calls LinGO Link. The gist of it is that troops needing to talk to locals in real time can call into a “bank of interpreters” that the company will maintain somewhere near the front lines. Using a specialized smartphone operating on a proprietary data network, a soldier using LinGO Link would dial himself and his local interlocutor into the call center so a native speaker can translate.
Face to face, in-person translation doesn’t come cheap. Last year, the Army gave an Ohio-based company a whopping $679 million, no-bid contract to provide it with translators in Afghanistan. But it’s not clear how Lockheed’s system will be any cheaper, especially if the government has to pony up for call centers. Those call centers would be “within the area of operations” of the troops themselves — meaning they’d be in war zones, not comfortably back in the States. That’s not gonna come cheap.”
Has anyone considered NOT invading other places?