US: DoD to expand military jobs for noncitizens

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Dec 6 15:28:50 UTC 2008

DoD to expand military jobs for noncitizens

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Dec 5, 2008 17:03:01 EST

Holders of temporary work visas who have lived in the U.S. for two
years can, for the first time in modern history, enlist in the
military if they are a health care professional or have cultural and
language skills in specialties or areas deemed critical, the Pentagon
announced Friday. Those accepted into the pilot program, initially
limited to 1,000 people and authorized through December 2009, would be
eligible for accelerated U.S. citizenship, a privilege already granted
to permanent resident aliens, known as green card holders. Noncitizens
are eligible for expedited citizenship under a July 2002 Executive
Order. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., nearly
43,000 service members have used this route to gain U.S. citizenship,
according to the Pentagon.

"Why now?" Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary for military personnel
policy, said of the pilot program launch. "Because we can, and now we
judge we must." The Pentagon has significant shortfalls in language
translators and health care professionals, Carr said. The military has
about 24,000 medical professionals — 11,000 doctors, 3,000 dentists
and 10,000 nurses — but is still about 1,000 short of requirements,
evenly divided between nurses and doctors, Carr said. The services are
meeting nearly all general quotas for recruiting and retention. But
despite a favorable recruiting and retention climate — with rising
unemployment a contributing factor — Carr said the servicesa are not
attracting sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses, and
language/cultural experts.

The military's greatest medical needs are for neurosurgeons and
dermatologists, who are especially critical to treatment of those
wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have produced a
tragic abundance of brain injuries and burns resulting from roadside
bomb blasts. At the same time, Adm. Eric Olson, chief of U.S. Special
Operations Command, has pressed hard for more cultural and language
specialists during meetings with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
the service secretaries. The upshot: One-third of the slots will be
reserved for medical billets, and two-thirds for cultural/language

Gates limited the initial overall number of people in the pilot
program, despite the military's needs in both areas, in order to
reduce concerns some may have about opening the military's doors too
widely to nonpermanent residents. "We said 1,000 so that nobody's too
anxious about the scope of the program," Carr said. Applicants will be
closely vetted. "The intelligence community can and shall screen them
aggressively," Carr said.

The cultural/language personnel will be divided equally between those
with basic and advanced skills in reading, listening and speaking,
Carr said. Someone considered advanced would have such skills roughly
equivalent to a college freshman. The temporary work visa applicants
will be welcome to enlist in any service and for any specialty,
include Special Forces, and would qualify for any cash bonuses
normally awarded, Carr said.

But the cultural/language specialists will largely be regarded as a
sort of bullpen, scattered across the services in any number of
different jobs, from which Special Forces could draw for specific and
unanticipated needs — for a service member with cultural and language
skills applicable to, say, Nigeria. To be accepted, Carr said, "they
must meet every standard — aptitude, medical, physical — and compete
their way in." Also, medical professionals, most of whom would be
officers, would have to serve three years on active duty or six in the
Selected Reserves, while cultural/language specialists would have to
serve a minimum of four years, Carr said.

All who are accepted into the program and successfully complete
training can, like permanent resident aliens, apply immediately for
accelerated citizenship. Those deemed not to have served honorably,
however, could have their citizenship revoked under the authority of
current immigration law, Carr said. Download the fact sheet for more
information on eligibility, specific requirements and the language
specialties sought.

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list