(This article was posted 4/22/15 on the CultureReady blog of the U.S. Defense Language and National Security Education Office and on LinkedIn 9/11/15.)
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, traces its roots to the secret World War II U.S. Army intelligence unit comprised of Japanese-Americans – the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).
Then, as now, we needed to succeed militarily and also communicate with other cultures and nations.
The MIS was started in late 1941 as a unit to train Japanese-Americans (Nisei) to conduct translation and interrogation activities. MIS men came mostly from Hawaii and the West Coast.
Although most were raised as American kids, they experienced significant racial prejudice and discriminatory laws. After Pearl Harbor, Japanese American families had been stripped of property and businesses and forced into the infamous relocation camps. MIS men emerged out of this environment.
For more information:
Review of a book about the MIS available on the Central Intelligence Agency website: “Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II.”