Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith: People think of linguists as merely translators a lot of the time, but there are so many other things that we're capable of. When you roll into a town with a unit, they'll have their regular civilian interpreter, and they'll go up, talk at the village elder's house and the platoon leader starts talking to him. And this one time, I'm just sitting there, sitting back standing guard. And all the locals are talking, not knowing anybody understands what they're saying, but we're there. We got our ears open. We're pulling in every single thing they're saying.
So I went and pulled my commander aside and let him know what I had overheard. And we discovered this spider hole hidden underneath a couch. And they have just loads of weapons and maps and bomb-making material and surveillance footage.
Speaker 1: Let's check one of these tapes out. What are they talking about?
Speaker 2: Counting numbers, command
Speaker 1: That's our platoon right there.
Speaker 2: Yeah, that's our base.
Speaker 1: These are our routes right here we're taking.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith: Because of this information, we were able to track down these guys that were watching our movements and take out the entire cell.
In the Army, you'll hear a lot about weaponry, the high-tech munitions we have, the size and power of the weapons. But for linguists, our weapons are our language and our minds. Sometimes language can be more important than bullets. And what I do is proof of that.