Michael J. Beaulieu


pdf bib
U.S. Army Machine Foreign Language Translation System (MFLTS) Capability Update and Review
Michael J. Beaulieu
Proceedings of the 10th Conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas: Government MT User Program

As early as June 2003, the United States Army partnered with United States Joint Forces Command to review language requirements within the Army, and, to a lesser extent, the other United States Military Services. After review of missions that require language translation, in 2005 the Army completed an Analysis of Alternatives document, which served as an independent assessment of potential language translation alternatives: options and numerical assessments based on each option’s ability to address language translation requirements. Of the four identified alternatives (printed materials, government off the shelf, commercial off the shelf, and overarching program), incremental development of two-way speech and text translation software modules proved to be the most mission and cost effective. That same year, United States Department of Defense published the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap listing a requirement for a coherent, prioritized, and coordinated multi-language technology research, development and acquisition policy and program. Since 2005, the Army and the Joint Staff have validated requirements for machine foreign language translation capability. In the effort to develop a comprehensive machine foreign translation capability, the Army not only needs to enable software to handle one of the most complex systems that humans deal with, but we need to develop the architecture and processes to routinely produce and maintain this capability. The Army has made the initial effort, funding a machine foreign language translation program known as the Machine Foreign Language Translation System (MFLTS) Program. It is intended to be the overarching Army Program with Department of Defense interest to provide machine foreign language translation capabilities that meet language translation gaps. MFLTS will provide a basic communications and triage capability for speech and text translations and improve those capabilities as the technology advances. Capabilities are intended to be delivered through three configurations: over established networks (web based), in mobile (or desktop) configurations and on portable platforms (or man wearable microprocessors and/or handhelds). MFLTS software, as a mission enabler ported on other platforms and systems, will provide Joint, Allied/Coalition units and personnel with language translation capability within the full range of military operations. Most recently, the Army convened a Machine Foreign Language Translation System (MFLTS) General Office Steering Group (GOSG) in March 2012 and validated follow-on language, domain and technology required capabilities for the Army MFLTS Program beyond the initial capability scheduled for 2014.