NATO Language Leadership Passes from Marshall Center’s PLTCE to Bulgaria Ministry of Defense

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NATO Language Leadership Passes from Marshall Center’s PLTCE to Bulgaria Ministry of Defense

By James E. Brooks
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

 RIGA, Latvia (May 27, 2016) – Leadership of NATO's advisory body on language training and testing issues, the Bureau for International Language Coordination (BILC) changed hands from the George C. Marshall European Center’s Partner Language Training Center Europe (PLTCE) to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense at the 50th Anniversary Conference of the BILC in Riga, Latvia, May 22 to 26.

The Marshall Center’s PLTCE held the chair and secretary position for the past two years. 

“We are very proud of the work BILC has accomplished over the years.  What is more significant is that the BILC Secretariat will be guided by Bulgaria, one of the newer NATO nations which joined the alliance in 2004,” said Keith Wert, director of PLTCE. 

Standardized language skills in the alliance are vital for military interoperability in the NATO alliance and Partnership for Peace nations.  BILC exists to grow and strengthen cooperative professional support within the field of language proficiency, language training and education, and language testing.

“The BILC Secretariat runs the organization on behalf of the steering committee which is composed of NATO members.  This includes representing the language consortium at several NATO Training Group meetings; acting as a language training and testing advisor to NATO Allied Command Transformation and the annual Training Synchronization Conference, as well as organizing conferences, seminars, workshops and participating on teams that assist various country language programs,” said Wert.

According to Wert, many PLTCE programs at the Marshall Center are developed and conducted under the BILC community umbrella and eligible partner nation participants receive subsidies from NATO to attend the courses.  PLTCE offers a Language Testing Seminar, Advanced Language Testing Seminar, Language Standards and Assessment Seminar and English Teaching Faculty Development Workshop in conjunction with BILC and its expert adjunct facilitators.

The change of leadership took place during the BILC 50th Anniversary conference which was hosted by the MoD of Latvia.  Eight-seven military and civilian language training and testing professionals attended from 35 countries.  There were representatives from NATO HQ International Military Staff and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.  Brigadier General Dzintars Roga from NATO Allied Command Transformation delivered the keynote address.  There were twenty-eight presentations and four study groups related to the theme: "From Goals to Outcomes: Measuring Success." Gérard Seinhorst from the Netherlands presentated the history of BILC detailing its rise from an "old NATO boy's club" to the highly diverse, multinational and accomplished professional organization it is today. 

On the last evening, Latvian MoD Undersecretary of State Ilona Dreģe hosted the formal dinner at the renovated and just reopened Latvian National Museum of Art with perceptive characterizations of BILC's polity and meaning.  It was quite a birthday party.

 A few indications of BILC's accomplishments would include the attendance of over 700 teachers and testers at BILC professional development courses hosted at the Marshall Center/PLTCE; the multiple visits by BILC teams of experts to seventeen NATO and partner countries  to conduct reviews of defense sponsored language training and testing processes as well as to deliver tailored professional development opportunities for faculty and staff members; and the complete rewrite of NATO Standardized Agreement 6001 Language Proficiency Levels, the cornerstone of NATO language interoperability