A reader, not otherwise known to me, writes:
I know of someone, American ex-military, now working abroad as a contract translator for DOD, who post-9/11 offered to learn Arabic, Pashtun, or other mid-East languages. He was told that such language skills were not needed. This person does not want to come forward because he needs his job.
The Pentagon convinced itself that they wouldn’t be in Iraq long (except maybe at isolated air bases) so of course they wouldn’t need to speak the local languages.
Update: Another reader notes that permanent resident aliens (i.e., non-citizen Green Card holders) aren’t eligible for federal employment, which cuts out lots of potential applicants.