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Can my commander require me to speak English while on duty?

Like half of my squad, I am a native Spanish speaker. I came into the shop yesterday and found a memo on my desk that said we aren't allowed to speak Spanish while on duty. This seems stupid to me. Can my chain of command really do this? I don't even get why they care.

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The answer to your question is both yes and no. Your commander cannot make a blanket policy that says all communication must be in English during the duty day. However, your commander can force you to use English to communicate as a part of military functions. AR 600-20 para 4-13 states the following with regard to Army language policy:

English is the operational language of the Army. Soldiers must maintain sufficient proficiency in English to perform their military duties. Their operational communications must be understood by everyone who has an official need to know their content, and, therefore, must normally be in English. However, commanders may not require Soldiers to use English unless such use is clearly necessary and proper for the performance of military functions. Accordingly, commanders may not require the use of English for personal communications that are unrelated to military functions.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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