Translation Call Centres for Afghanistan?
Canada’s search for a portable voice translator for use by troops who don’t have access to an interpreter drew an interesting response and alternative from a participant at the Small Wars Journal (SWJ) discussion forum:
I understand the requirement for such a capability, however this ‘solution’ appears very short-sighted indeed and will not provide the sort of direct translation support that may be required, and will likely result in additional training etc for the deployed troops with little utility.
I would propose something far simpler and better which would meet all the current and several other potential requirements/applications. I propose that a call center be setup in Kandahar with native and english speakers, similar to the call centers that exist in India to respond to North Americans. Such a centre could act as an on-demand, real-time translation service supported through local cellular telephone capabilities, and supplemented by Army or satellite radio links where required. Soldiers could communicate directly with anyone they require regardless of language or sex. Such services could be further supplemented with laptop communications for web broadcast of specific messages and information – such as medical advice, notices , psyop, IO and CIMIC related materials etc tailored to the audience.
In addition, such a system would protect the translators as well, since they would not be revealing their identities to other Afghans. Local Afghans could staff some of these positions, and the centre could respond to a multitude of users and services such as 411 or 911 types of services.
An interesting proposal, but methinks not one that can be applied in all situations – this, from another SWJ participant:
I know how Canadians would respond if foreigners with guns made us speak via a handset to a strange, remote voice. It is hard to believe that Afghan reactions would be any more positive.
What do you think?