Monday, December 1, 2008
(Image: the original Presido of Monterey in 1793 from The California State Military Museum).
The Presidio of Monterey and its Defense Language Institute could be ranked as the fourth largest city on the Monterey Peninsula, with 7,500 military students, civilian instructors, and support staff on the Monterey base at peak class times. It has been the major source of military language training since 1974 and now teaches 24languages in courses that last 27 to 64 weeks. Arabic languages dominate the program today as Japanese and then Russian once did. The DLI has 2,000 graduates each year in all branches of the military, and produces pocket-size booklets in more than 50 languages as "survival guides" for all troops sent to foreign countries. The DLI has 1,500 instructors who also contribute to the cultural diversity and international tone of the Peninsula. The Presidio has on-base housing for 1,600 military families, and the school and its base have a budget of about $200 million each year.
The Presidio of Monterey was established by the Spaniards who, when they landed in 1770, claimed the West Coast for Spain. The first presidio, which means "fort" in Spanish, was near El Estero. It moved to its present hill location in 1792; fell into disrepair after the Mexicans booted the Spanish in 1822; was restored after Navy Commodore John Sloat claimed the West for the US in 1846; and was transferred to the Army in 1847, when an artillery regiment with a lieutenant named Edward O.C. Ord arrived. The Monterey base had several names before it was abandoned again in 1856. It wasn't used much until an infantry regiment returned from China and the Philippines to rebuild it in 1902. A unit of the all-black "Buffalo Soldiers" cavalry soon joined them and, in 1904, the original name Presidio of Monterey was restored. The Army Language School moved here in 1946, and in 1974 all US military language instruction was consolidated in Monterey.
(Video below: Description of the Defense Language Institute)