About Us

The National Language Service Corps (NLSC) is America’s premier all-volunteer group of language professionals, serving language needs across the federal government at home and abroad.

Mission Statement

To foster a large, global cadre of highly qualified linguists to serve DoD and other federal government agencies.

Vision Statement

To improve federal agencies’ readiness to respond quickly and accurately to national security events, domestic or foreign disasters, and non-emergency surge activities that require language expertise to improve the security and welfare of the nation.


Our History

2017 NLSC celebrates over 8,800 Members supporting more than 420 languages. NY REGIONAL CHAPTER 2014 NLSC launches fourth Regional Member Chapter in New York President Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act which authorizes the Secretary of Defense to establish the NLSC as a part of a permanent organization. NLSC LEGISLATED 2013 NLSC launches second regional chapter in Honolulu SECOND REGIONAL CHAPTER 2012 2011 FIRST REGIONAL CHAPTER NLSC launches its first regional chapter in Washington DC 2009 FIRST ASSIGNMENT NLSC's first assignment deploying Members RECRUITING BEGINS NLSC begins actively recruiting Members DoD launches congressionally directed and authorized Language Corps Pilot program. NLSC LAUNCHED FIRST INTERNATIONAL REGIONAL CHAPTER 2015 NLSC launches its first International Regional Chapter in Germany
The Department of Defense (DoD) embraced a new approach to operating following September 11, 2011. DoD leadership realized that a key to success was the ability to understand and interact successfully with local populations, allies, and partners. As such, DoD committed to improving language and dialect capabilities, developing a cadre of regional and cultural experts, and establishing a surge capability to expand its language capabilities on short notice.
In 2007, the DoD launched the NLSC as a pilot program to identify and recruit on-call, volunteer, civilian language specialists to achieve their desired language capabilities. Initially, NLSC aimed to maintain a pool of linguists proficient in ten languages. Since then, the NLSC has expanded its capabilities to support over 414 languages and dialects and provide over 1,000 man-hours of support to federal agencies annually.
To meet the increasing need for professionals with language skills, in 2018, the NLSC expanded the reach of linguist support from DoD organizations to all federal government agencies.
NLSC’s contributions and efforts have been recognized by external stakeholders. In 2017, the National Security Education Program recognized NLSC’s expanding breadth of support, noting that “NLSC is experiencing a growing role in providing support with members who not only have language expertise, but also domain, regional, and cultural expertise.”
In 2018, Congress commended NLSC for “the significant contributions…and efforts to respond rapidly to assist U.S. Departments and agencies to fulfill a wide range of foreign language needs.” NLSC members have proven to be a vital national asset to support training, combat operations, disaster relief, international emergency response, and coalition building

Governance

Congress authorized the Secretary of Defense to establish the NLSC in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. The National Security Education Board (NSEB) serves as the governing and advisory body for NLSC, as directed in 50 U.S.C. Chapter 37. NSEB’s 14 members include representatives from eight Cabinet-level departments as well as six Presidentially-appointed members. Today, the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO) administers NLSC on behalf of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Advised by the NSEB on policy and strategy, DLNSEO develops and executes programs to remedy foreign culture and language shortfalls across the government. NLSC is one of these programs, and is unique among them for the operational support it provides across the entire U.S. Government. When NLSC members support government agencies, they are hired as temporary experts and consultants in the excepted service, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3109 and 5 U.S.C. § 2103. Members who activate receive a small honorarium for their service.


Historical Documents

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 Conference Report
National Security Education Program 2017 Annual Report
Defense Language Transformation Roadmap

Links of Interest

National Security Education Program
Defense Language and National Security Education Office
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

Sharable Media