Mental and physical fitness, ingenuity, and grit are among the more important traits a special operator can have.

Resources and technology are great bonuses that can take a commando to the next level. And yet, according to Congress, foreign language capability is now equally if not more important.

These language capabilities are a key asset in competition that takes place below the level of open conflict, known as the gray zone.

As the U.S. focuses on that kind of competition with China and Russia, Congress is concerned that special operations troops’ foreign language capabilities have atrophied during the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations of the past 20 years.