Good news from the Pentagon that raises the predictable howls of protest from Democratic Underground: the U.S. military is opening some positions to non-immigrant visa holders, such as highly skilled workers already in the U.S., those on student visas, and so on.
The Associated Press: AP Exclusive: Pentagon to recruit aliens on visas
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has authorized the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to recruit certain legal residents whose critical medical and language skills are “vital to the national interest,” officials said, using for the first time a law passed three years ago.
Though the military previously has taken recruits with green cards seeking permanent residency, Gates’ action allows the services to start a one-year pilot program to find up to 1,000 foreigners who have lived in the states legally for at least two years on certain types of temporary visas.
The new recruits into the armed forces would get accelerated treatment in the process toward becoming U.S. citizens in return for serving in the wartime military in the United States or abroad.
“The services are doing a tremendous job of recruiting quality personnel to meet our various missions,” sometimes with bonus pay and tuition for medical school, said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense for military personnel policy. There are currently about 24,000 doctors, dentists and nurses in the Defense Department.
The article goes on to emphasize the new reach of the program: while there is a long history of foreigners serving in the American military (all the way back to the Revolutionary War), this is the first time in modern times that non-green-card holders are being recruited.
The U.S. military is not a protectionist jobs program: it is an organization designed to provide peace and security both to us and to others in the world. It is a force for good: a force for trade, connectivity, and most importantly the Constitution.
Employers such as Microsoft, General Electric, and IBM have long recognized that the best talent may not hold a U.S. passport, or even a U.S. greencard. I am glad that Secretary of Defense Gates (who has the confidence of both President Bush and President-Elect Obama) knows this too.