They always told me when I was learning Russian and French: "language is culture."
So true. And when you're waging a war and a half using a counterinsurgency strategy, language becomes even more important since it's tied so closely to culture and gaining a rapport is so important for mission success.
Thus, one of the military's greatest weakness in this fight has been it's individual troops' lack of foreign language skills. While lots of people like to tisk tisk generally mono-lingual Americans for being culturally parochial, it's more a function of need and the difficulty of learning a language well than anything else.
So in a typical American fashion we come up with a technical shortcut to the problem.
I remember way back in the day when these phraselators were first introduced. Kinda like the cell phones of yore, these contraptions practically filled an entire Humvee. It's like you could have communicated with a moon colony rather than the poor schmo in front of you.
But Voxtec's come a long way in their design, making a smaller, hands free device that speaks for you. The cool thing about this is that it's also customizable. So you can use phrases typical to your mission and the civilians around you.
Still seems a bit clunky, but consider the alternative (months of practice with Rosetta Stone). It also points to a direction that could lead to smartphone based voice translators that process speech more quickly.