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DAF updates Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus policy

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of the Air Force has updated its Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus policy to prioritize those critical career fields, programs, and positions that require foreign language proficiency to perform their missions.

Changes to the National Defense Strategy have shifted the service’s strategic focus and priorities to the Asia-Pacific region. As our geographic focus has changed, our language priorities have changed as well.

“Diversity in language capabilities and cultural knowledge is highly valued,” said Roxane Porter, chief of the Air Force Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture Division. “To match our global pacing challenges, we need experts in specific languages and in specific career fields and language programs so that we continue to look ahead to future mission requirements.”

The service revised DAFI 36-4005, Total Force Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture Program to reflect the 2022 Department of Defense changes to the policy on military foreign language skill proficiency bonuses.

To increase operational readiness, the revised DoD policy adopted a “pay by modality” pay table incentivizing and targeting higher proficiencies for language-focused communities. Language modalities include listening, reading, and speaking. Proficiency skill levels range from 1 to 4 or higher.

The Department of Defense policy no longer requires payment of FLPB for languages on the DoD Strategic Language List, or SLL, allowing the services to better tailor payments based on requirements. Under the new DAF policy, only Airmen and Guardians in the language communities specified in the revised policy will be eligible for FLPB. Bonus payments in each modality increase with proficiency and “must pay” rates are set for Airmen and Guardians who reach higher proficiency levels in certain occupational specialties.

The matrix-based pay table, which offers up to $1,000 per month based on higher language proficiency per language modality, is designed to incentivize recruitment, retention and sustainment of higher proficiencies in critical languages. For example, Cryptologic Language Analyst, a career field that requires foreign language proficiency in certain core languages, will continue to receive FLPB, but at a higher rate for higher proficiency skill levels. Airmen and Guardians who are in career fields or assigned positions with no language requirement will no longer earn FLPB solely based on the DAF SLL.

To allow time for transition, members who experience a reduction or elimination of FLPB under the new policy will continue to receive FLPB through July 31, 2024, as long as they maintain currency by recertifying their Defense Language Proficiency Test or Oral Proficiency Interview before the test expiration. It is important that members prepare for any reduction or elimination to FLPB during this period.

For more information on FLPB, see the updated DAFI 36-4005 here.