More Military Positions Open to Visa-Holders

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.

8 thoughts on “More Military Positions Open to Visa-Holders”

  1. Hmm….


    1)Didn’t something akin to this lead to the Roman Empire’s demise?

    2)Won’t this become a great opportunity for foreign covert agencies?

  2. A look back at our own history shows a similar pattern in the Civil War and during the Indian Wars.

    “The full complement of the 7th Cavalry in June 1876 was 43 officers and 793 enlisted men. Of that number 473 were native born and 320 foreign born. The two largest foreign-born groups in the regiment comprised 129 Irish and 127 Germans. The remaining 64 foreign born were drawn from 14 other nationalities, including six Italians. These were: 1st Lt. Charles Camillus DeRudio (a k a Count Carlo Camillo Di Rudio) of Company A; Private Augustus L. De Voto (a k a Augusto De Voto) of Company B; Private John James (a k a Giovanni Casella) of Company E; Private Frank Lombard (a k a Frank Lombardy, Francesco Lombardi) of the regimental band; Private John Martin (a k a Giovanni Martini), trumpeter of Company H; and Chief Musician Felix Villiet Vinatieri (a k a Felice Villiet Vinatieri) of the regimental band. Two of the six were married. As might be expected, given that the pay of the era made it virtually impossible for junior enlisted personnel to wed and support a family, they were the two highest ranking: DeRudio and Vinatieri.”

    I also recall that one of the best squad leaders I ever served with in Nam, was a former Argentine cavalry officer, who went on to re-up and return to OCS and citizenship.

  3. EW: As with everything, God and the Devil are both in the details. Do you insist on people who’re willing to become American citizens, or do you recruit whoever? Are you careful about where you place them and how you train them? Or do you put them whereever?

    The same questions could be asked about Americans recruited on waivers.

  4. Edgewisee,

    The Roman Empire was remarkably integrative. The meaning of ‘Roman’ expanded over time from a free resident of that city, to one of the Latin League, to one of the Republic, and finally (I believe) any free man born within the Empire.

    I don’t believe this presented special challenges to Rome. Even before the height of Imperial power, the Apostle Paul was a citizen by birth. Likewise, the integration of other peoples continued before, during, and after, the crisis of the third century.

    It’s my understanding that the Western Empire’s collapse was largely the result of global cooling. As for the Eastern Empire, the Persian and Islamic wars were taxing, but at least through the decapitation of the Fourth Crusade maintained hegemony for centuries more.

    I agree on the possibility of infiltration.


    Thanks for the historical and personal takes! Very informative!


    Wise words.

  5. Hmm…
    I am on a student visa….I was very happy to hear this news…
    i know 4-5 languages…russian, farsi, turkish, uzbek…
    i went to army..air force marines….none said I can’t because only green cards are accepted….went to army headquarter office…even they said no…so…theoretically was great news…practically nonsense…


  6. al,

    Depressing news!

    This is exactly the sort of bureaucratic slowness that hurts us and our friends so much!

    I am sad, both for you and for us! 🙁

    Was there any explanation given, or were they aware of the article?

  7. Here’s some more information, from the New York Times [1]:

    “The American Army finds itself in a lot of different countries where cultural awareness is critical,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, the top recruitment officer for the Army, which is leading the pilot program. “There will be some very talented folks in this group.”…

    The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide. Recruiting will start after Department of Homeland Security officials update an immigration rule in coming days.

    At a street corner recruiting station in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, Staff Sgt. Alejandro Campos of the Army said he had already fielded calls from temporary immigrants who heard rumors about the program.

    (This link is from Soob’s blog [2]. )

    You might just want to call up a recruiter in New York, and see if you can get any information directly. Here are some numbers. [3] Tell us what you find out!


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