Translation Nation

The demand for linguists is rising in both war and peace and despite the inroads of automation

Illustration for TIME by PJ Loughran

Last month the U.S. Army bumped favored defense contractor L-3 Communications from a $4.6 billion contract to provide translators and interpreters in Iraq. A new venture called Global Linguistic Solutions (GLS), headed by retired Army Major General James (Spider) Marks and primarily formed to bid on the contract, landed the job. The surprise caused L-3 shares to fall nearly 6%; the company lowered its sales forecast this year by $500 million.

Winning the contract may be the easy part for GLS. Luring interpreters to Iraq is another story. Job listings posted on L-3's website read like something out of a Tom Clancy...

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