35M are not much use with a language to be honest, at least in the current structure of the Army, for several reasons.
1) 35M are not slotted by language. So the Army can spend $250,000 or more to send you to language school for Arabic, and then you turn around and deploy to Afghanistan where Arabic is *almost* completely worthless.
2) To piggy back off the first comment, imagine all that but now you are out of the loop for 1-2 years of training. That pipeline is way long for someone who isn't even going to be slotted by language.
3) 35M rarely use the language as the day-to-day operations. Furthermore, we usually get stationed at FORSCOM line units where even though the language regulation states that you will have a command language program....it rarely happens. Resulting in wasted money spent, time out of the loop, and then the language falls by the wayside anyhow. It's different with 35P as they can do their job from the States whereas in most cases we cannot unless you have very advanced training. Take me for example. I've been a Persian-Farsi linguist since 2004-2005. I had one unit send me to language school for refresher. Never another unit has done that. I don't get to use it here. So I'm left trying to practice with notecards on my phone/iPod. I don't do too shabby, but I alternate between doing ok and failing the DLPT depending on how much time I have to study in my off time. It's always a question of whether or not I will pass. And I know my skills are better than my test scores indicate, but the newest DLPT (V) is super difficult, even for native speakers in some languages. So the last test I got a 1+/2+.
4) Even if we are a 3/3 linguist (which I was when I left the school house and for several years afterwards) the language skills simply aren't good enough to conduct interrogations or source operations without an interpreter because the nuances are too high. Now, don't get me wrong, my language has helped me immensely...but it's mainly for double checking interpreters, understanding parts of conversations cutting back on time spent on the translation, reading documents, etc. But it's not enough that I would feel comfortable by myself. So now the Army pays a quarter million, has you out of the loop for about 1.5-2 years, and still has to hire an interpreter at about 100-200k a pop depending on security clearance.
Being an Army linguist is so friggin' frustrating due to the lack of support (it takes 3-4 MONTHS just to get a DLPT here at Fort Bliss, and they only give you from 0800-1300 to do BOTH portions usually) that I created a blog (see below - although this post isn't a plug for my blog).
I don't see the regulation changing anytime soon for several reasons.
1) It's too expensive. We are in a time where our government can't even balance a damn budget. It's super expensive to send someone to school in HOPES that they pass.
2) There's too many of us now. When I re-classified in mid-2004 there were probably less than 500 of us 97Es (now 35M) at the time in the entire Army if I had to guess. Now they pump a ridiculous amount through the school house each year (something like 1000 or more I don't know the exact number). I don't know what our total current end strength is at this point in the game, but imagine if you took my point #1 and combined it with the fact that everyone would want to go and immediately re-enlist for it. First off that could hinder the Army's goal to eliminate troops to save money, and two imagine how many millions it would cost if even 1,000 of the people re-enlisted for DLI suddenly.
All that being said, they recently re-instated the requirement for 35Ms to pass the DLAB when joining the military. So it does seem as if we are stepping in that direction eventually, but if I had to guess (and this is just one senior NCOs' opinion) it will only happen after all the fat is trimmed and all the cutbacks in the DoD budget are finished.
______________________________________________"an Army Linguist"
- Resources and more about being an Army linguist