JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.-- U.S. Soldiers with the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist), 56th Theater Information Operations Group, Washington National Guard, put their language skills to the test during the annual Valor Language Games on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 4, 2023 .
"It has been a very successful iteration of these games," said Maj. David Grun, operations officer for the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion. "Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and they feel challenged by the events."
The Valor Language Games, named after the battalion’s call sign and motto,“Vigilance and Valor”, consists of three events, each testing intelligence soldiers on their expertise in tactical questioning, voice intercept/analysis, and briefing a senior office on the commander's priority intelligence requirements (PIR) they found during their questioning. Linguists are tested as individuals and as a team on their abilities to read, speak, and listen to the languages including Russian, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and French.
"The Valor Games are used to test the linguists' proficiency in their language and as a precursor to a much larger game, called the Polyglot games, hosted by our higher headquarters, the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade (Linguist)," said Grun.
The first test of the games is a tactical questioning lane where linguists must question an informant to obtain potentially critical information about a scenario using their foreign language skills. The second lane is voice intercept/analysis, a computer-based challenge where competitors must use their skills as a linguist in both reading and listening in their perspective languages while gathering details of the scenario for their brief during the culminating event. During the last lane, linguist must come together as a team and compile all of their intel from their previous lanes and create a brief to present to a senior officer. They are graded on the interpretation of the information they gathered and on the presentation.
"We're just happy we can support the battalion and looking forward to doing this again next year on an annual basis," said Capt. Jeff Bridges, commander, Bravo Company, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion.
The Valor Games are a precursor to the Polyglot Games, an annual language game hosted by the Utah National Guard's 300th Military Intelligence Brigade (Linguist). More than 140 participants from 25 different organizations came together earlier this year for the 5th annual Polyglot Games, the 2024 games are expected to be the largest language games ever conducted.
“The Valor games tested the language proficiency of the Soldier's before being sent to the Polyglot Games,” said Grun. “We want to make sure our folks are set-up for success.”
The 341st has been successful in the past at the Polyglot Games: Staff Sergeant Sergei Corduneanu was named language professional of the year at the games in 2019. In 2020, Sgt. Robert O’Donnell took top honors, followed by Spc. Louis Delorme in 2021. Each year the 341st was also named the Best Command Language Program in the 300th.
“Time and time again our Soldiers have proven that they are professionals in their assigned languages,” said Lt. Col. Nolan Rinehart, commander of the 341st Military Intelligence Battalion. “The work we do is critical in developing intelligence products for combatant commanders when deployed and postured to help to assist civil authorities and our communities during disasters, so ensuring our linguists are at their best is one of our training priorities.”