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The Presidio
On a steep hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean stands the Presidio of Monterey, home of the Defense Language Institute, the primary language training school of the Department of Defense. Students from all branches of the military train together at DLI, studying intensely their target languages over the course of many months. The training progresses at a frenetic pace: language courses are taught by native speakers employing "total cultural immersion" techniques, military and security training takes place before and after the day's eight-hour language lessons, and the whole exhausting process is punctuated by frequent "volunteer" activities in the community and "mandatory fun" sessions like the annual Multi-Cultural Festival celebrated with the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
A view of Monterey Bay from the Presidio

A view of Monterey Bay from the Presidio

It was not at all uncommon in this atmosphere for a class to have a 50 to 90 percent attrition rate. Only the most dedicated, talented, or lucky were able to run this gauntlet successfully. It was here in 1995 that John Alleman, a Chinese linguist in the Navy, and Klay Williams, a Russian linguist also in the Navy, first met, their common interests in philosophy, literature, and computers cementing their friendship. The third driving force behind AO Industries, Dan Armstrong, was also undergoing language training for Vietnamese while in the Army, but the timing was such that he would meet neither John nor Klay until their ultimate stationing at the Regional SIGINT Operations Center in Kunia, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.
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