Airman recognized as DOD Language Professional of the Year

  • Published
  • By Natela Cutter
  • Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. Brandi Fast of the 25th Intelligence Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is the Defense Department's 2013 Language Professional of the Year.

The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center made that announcement during the annual Advanced Command Language Program Manager Workshop here June 3.

The award recognizes outstanding military language professionals and their accomplishments and highlights the critical role military linguists play in supporting missions around the world.

"Tech Sgt. Fast spent hundreds, even thousands of hours helping others achieve their language proficiency goals - where did she ever find the time?" said Col. David Chapman, DLIFLC commandant. "She is incredible."

Among her many accomplishments during the award period Fast deployed twice to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility where she utilized her diverse language skills to support special operations missions. Her language skills proved critical in the support of a downed allied helicopter that resulted in the successful recovery of 14 aircrew members.

Back at the 25th IS, Fast demonstrated outstanding professionalism by managing her unit's Cryptologic Skills Program. The 25 IS reports to the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group at Hurlburt and to the Air Force ISR Agency at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, Texas.

Off-duty, the direct support operator dedicated 700 hours to language study, sustaining a 13,000 word vocabulary, adding 3,000 more across three languages.

"As a linguist, knowledge of a foreign language gives me the chance to do a very special thing," Fast wrote in her personal essay: "Best Practices for Raising and Maintaining Language Proficiency" as part of her nomination package. "(It's) the chance to make an impact with such a specialized skill and see a difference on a battlefield - the chance to be on the cutting edge of war."

Runner-up honors to Fast went to Spc. Shawn Pitcher, from the 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

In recognition of his accomplishments, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command gave Pitcher the opportunity to go on a one-month foreign language immersion trip to the country of his choice.

"I just returned from Singapore yesterday," Pitcher said. "What I enjoyed most about the Chinese language immersion is my classmates came from all over the world and had different viewpoints on cultural and political issues. And no one spoke English!"

The United States Marine Corps' 2nd Radio Battalion won the DOD Command Language Program of the Year award.

The CLPM course, attended by 120 service members this year, teaches linguist managers who assist military linguists in maintaining their language capabilities. Approximately 700 CLP managers across DOD manage linguist careers and report on the status of language training and readiness to their commanders.

(Editor's Note: Air Force ISR Agency Public Affairs contributed to this story.)