Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus


The legislative authority for the Department to pay a Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus resides in Title 37, United States Code, Section 353(b).  The Department has implemented that authority through Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 1340.27, Military Foreign Language Skill Proficiency Bonuses, May 21, 2013 and Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation, Volume 7A, Chapter 19.

The Secretaries of the Military Departments, through the above authorities, may pay a Foreign Language Proficiency Bonus (FLPB) to eligible Service members with certified (tested) high proficiencies (on the Federal Government Interagency Language Roundtable scale of 2 and above) in at least two of the three language modalities (listening, reading and/or speaking)  for foreign languages identified on both the DoD Strategic Language List (SLL) and Service-specific SLLs for foreign languages they need to accomplish their own missions . The annual bonus rate may not exceed $12,000 annually. 

On any given month, the Military Services pay approximately $7M in FLPB to 27,000 Active Duty (24,000) and Reserve Component (3,000) Service members (linguists) for certified proficiencies in 120 foreign languages and dialects of interest to the Department and the Services.  Of the 7,106 modern languages of the world (according to Ethnologue) , DoD pays FLPB for only 1.6% of those languages.

Under the current DoD 1340.27 policy, the Secretaries of the Military Departments must pay FLPB to eligible Service members with certified proficiencies in Immediate and Emerging languages on the DoD SLL.  For Enduring DoD SLL languages and languages not on the DoD SLL, the Secretary of the Military Departments may pay FLPB where there is a need to ensure sufficient numbers of proficient personnel to accomplish DoD-specific missions.  In other words, where sufficient capacity already exists within the Service, the Service does not have to pay the “surplus” of linguists they may have. But they retain the option of also paying them to maintain a sufficient “bench or surge” capability.