US: DoD to expand military jobs for noncitizens

Christina Paulston paulston at
Sun Dec 7 20:25:13 UTC 2008

On Dec 6, 2008, at 10:28 AM, Harold Schiffman wrote:

> 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
> skills.
> 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.
> -- 
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