From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/12/26/military_considers_recruiting_foreigners/?page=full

Military considers recruiting foreigners

Expedited citizenship would be an incentive
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff  |  December 26, 2006

WASHINGTON — The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting
goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks
— including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas
and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they
volunteer — according to Pentagon officials.

Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue,
which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially
using mercenaries to defend the country. Other analysts voice concern
that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize
national security or reflect badly on Americans’ willingness to serve
in uniform.

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is
gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon,
while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that
enter the United States legally each year.

The proposal to induct more noncitizens, which is still largely on the
drawing board, has to clear a number of hurdles. So far, the Pentagon
has been quiet about specifics — including who would be eligible to
join, where the recruiting stations would be, and what the minimum
standards might involve, including English proficiency. In the
meantime, the Pentagon and immigration authorities have expanded a
program that accelerates citizenship for legal residents who volunteer
for the military.

And since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of imm igrants in uniform who have
become US citizens has increased from 750 in 2001 to almost 4,600 last
year, according to military statistics.

With severe manpower strains because of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan — and a mandate to expand the overall size of the military
— the Pentagon is under pressure to consider a variety of proposals
involving foreign recruits, according to a military affairs analyst.

“It works as a military idea and it works in the context of American
immigration,” said Thomas Donnelly , a military scholar at the
conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a leading
proponent of recruiting more foreigners to serve in the military.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind on, the Pentagon has warned
Congress and the White House that the military is stretched “to the
breaking point.”

Both President Bush and Robert M. Gates, his new defense secretary,
have acknowledged that the total size of the military must be expanded
to help alleviate the strain on ground troops, many of whom have been
deployed repeatedly in combat theaters.

Bush said last week that he has ordered Gates to come up with a plan
for the first significant increase in ground forces since the end of
the Cold War. Democrats who are preparing to take control of Congress,
meanwhile, promise to make increasing the size of the military one of
their top legislative priorities in 2007.

“With today’s demands placing such a high strain on our service
members, it becomes more crucial than ever that we work to alleviate
their burden,” said Representative Ike Skelton , a Missouri Democrat
who is set to chair the House Armed Services Committee, and who has
been calling for a larger Army for more than a decade.

But it would take years and billions of dollars to recruit, train, and
equip the 30,000 troops and 5,000 Marines the Pentagon says it needs.
And military recruiters, fighting the perception that signing up means
a ticket to Baghdad, have had to rely on financial incentives and lower
standards to meet their quotas.

That has led Pentagon officials to consider casting a wider net for
noncitizens who are already here, said Lieutenant Colonel Bryan
Hilferty , an Army spokesman.

Already, the Army and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division
of the Department of Homeland Security have “made it easier for
green-card holders who do enlist to get their citizenship,” Hilferty
said.

Other Army officials, who asked not to be identified, said personnel
officials are working with Congress and other parts of the government
to test the feasibility of going beyond US borders to recruit soldiers
and Marines.

Currently, Pentagon policy stipulates that only immigrants legally
residing in the United States are eligible to enlist. There are
currently about 30,000 noncitizens who serve in the US armed forces,
making up about 2 percent of the active-duty force, according to
statistics from the military and the Council on Foreign Relations.
About 100 noncitizens have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A recent change in US law, however, gave the Pentagon authority to
bring immigrants to the United States if it determines it is vital to
national security. So far, the Pentagon has not taken advantage of it,
but the calls are growing to take use the new authority.

Indeed, some top military thinkers believe the United States should go
as far as targeting foreigners in their native countries.

“It’s a little dramatic,” said Michael O’Hanlon , a military specialist
at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution and another supporter of the
proposal. “But if you don’t get some new idea how to do this, we will
not be able to achieve an increase” in the size of the armed forces.

“We have already done the standard things to recruit new soldiers,
including using more recruiters and new advertising campaigns,”
O’Hanlon added.

O’Hanlon and others noted that the country has relied before on sizable
numbers of noncitizens to serve in the military — in the Revolutionary
War, for example, German and French soldiers served alongside the
colonists, and locals were recruited into US ranks to fight insurgents
in the Philippines.

Other nations have recruited foreign citizens: In France, the famed
Foreign Legion relies on about 8,000 noncitizens; Nepalese soldiers
called Gurkhas have fought and died with British Army forces for two
centuries; and the Swiss Guard, which protects the Vatican, consists of
troops who hail from many nations.

“It is not without historical precedent,” said Donnelly, author of a
recent book titled “The Army We Need,” which advocates for a larger
military.

Still, to some military officials and civil rights groups, relying on
large number of foreigners to serve in the military is offensive.

The Hispanic rights advocacy group National Council of La Raza has said
the plan sends the wrong message that Americans themselves are not
willing to sacrifice to defend their country. Officials have also
raised concerns that immigrants would be disproportionately sent to the
front lines as “cannon fodder” in any conflict.

Some within the Army privately express concern that a big push to
recruit noncitizens would smack of “the decline of the American
empire,” as one Army official who asked not to be identified put it.

Officially, the military remains confident that it can meet recruiting
goals — no matter how large the military is increased — without
having to rely on foreigners.

“The Army can grow to whatever size the nation wants us to grow to,”
Hilferty said. “National defense is a national challenge, not the
Army’s challenge.”

He pointed out that just 15 years ago, during the Gulf War, the Army
had a total of about 730,000 active-duty soldiers, amounting to about
one American in 350 who were serving in the active-duty Army.

“Today, with 300 million Americans and about 500,000 active-duty
soldiers, only about one American in 600 is an active-duty soldier,” he
said. “America did then, and we do now, have an all-volunteer force,
and I see no reason why America couldn’t increase the number of
Americans serving.”

But Max Boot, a national security specialist at the Council on Foreign
Relations, said that the number of noncitizens the armed forces have
now is relatively small by historical standards.

“In the 19th century, when the foreign-born population of the United
States was much higher, so was the percentage of foreigners serving in
the military,” Boot wrote in 2005.

“During the Civil War, at least 20 percent of Union soldiers were
immigrants, and many of them had just stepped off the boat before
donning a blue uniform. There were even entire units, like the 15th
Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry [the Scandinavian Regiment] and General
Louis Blenker’s German Division, where English was hardly spoken.”

“The military would do well today to open its ranks not only to legal
immigrants but also to illegal ones and, as important, to untold
numbers of young men and women who are not here now but would like to
come,” Boot added.

“No doubt many would be willing to serve for some set period, in return
for one of the world’s most precious commodities — US citizenship.
Some might deride those who sign up as mercenaries, but these troops
would have significantly different motives than the usual soldier of
fortune.”

Bryan Bender can be reached at bender [at] globe [dot] com [dot]

http://www.cfr.org/publication.html?id=7861

Uncle Sam Wants Tu

Author: Max Boot, Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
February 24, 2005 / Los Angeles Times

It is hard to pick up a newspaper these days without reading about Army
and Marine Corps recruiting and retention woes. Nonstop deployments and
the danger faced by troops in Iraq are making it hard for both services
to fill their ranks. The same goes for the National Guard and Reserves.
(The Navy and Air Force, which are much less in harm’s way, have no
such difficulty.)

Just to stay at their present sizes, the Army and Marines are shoveling
money into more advertising, extra recruiters and bigger enlistment
bonuses. And yet it’s clear to everyone (except, that is, President
Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) that the U.S. military
is far too small to handle all the missions thrown its way. We need to
not only maintain the current ranks but also to expand them in order to
recover from a 1990s downsizing in which the Army lost 300,000
soldiers.

Some experts are already starting to wonder whether the war on
terrorism might break the all-volunteer military. But because
reinstating the draft isn’t a serious option (the House defeated a
symbolic draft bill last year, 402 to 2), some outside-the-box thinking
is needed to fill up the ranks. In this regard, I note that there is a
pretty big pool of manpower that’s not being tapped: everyone on the
planet who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Since 9/11, Bush has expedited the naturalization process for soldiers.
But to enlist, the Pentagon requires either proof of citizenship or a
green card. Out of an active-duty force of about 1.4 million, only
108,803 are foreign-born (7%) and 30,541 are noncitizens (2%).

This is an anomaly by historical standards: In the 19th century, when
the foreign-born population of the United States was much higher, so
was the percentage of foreigners serving in the military. During the
Civil War, at least 20% of Union soldiers were immigrants, and many of
them had just stepped off the boat before donning a blue uniform. There
were even entire units, like the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry (the
Scandinavian Regiment) and Gen. Louis Blenker’s German Division, where
English was hardly spoken.

The military would do well today to open its ranks not only to legal
immigrants but also to illegal ones and, as important, to untold
numbers of young men and women who are not here now but would like to
come. No doubt many would be willing to serve for some set period in
return for one of the world’s most precious commodities — U.S.
citizenship. Open up recruiting stations from Budapest to Bangkok, Cape
Town to Cairo, Montreal to Mexico City. Some might deride those who
sign up as mercenaries, but these troops would have significantly
different motives than the usual soldier of fortune.

The simplest thing to do would be to sign up foreigners for the regular
U.S. military, but it would also make sense to create a unit whose
enlisted ranks would be composed entirely of non-Americans, led by U.S.
officers and NCOs.

Call it the Freedom Legion. As its name implies, this unit would be
modeled on the French Foreign Legion, except, again, U.S. citizenship
would be part of the “pay.” And rather than fighting for U.S. security
writ small — the way the Foreign Legion fights for the glory of France
— it would have as its mission defending and advancing freedom across
the world. It would be, in effect, a multinational force under U.S.
command — but one that wouldn’t require the permission of France,
Germany or the United Nations to deploy.

The Freedom Legion would be the perfect unit to employ in places such
as Darfur that are not critical security concerns but that cry out for
more effective humanitarian intervention than any international
organization could muster. U.S. politicians, so wary (and rightly so)
of casualties among U.S. citizens, might take a more lenient attitude
toward the employment of a force not made up of their constituents. An
added benefit is that by recruiting foreigners, the U.S. military could
address its most pressing strategic deficit in the war on terrorism —
lack of knowledge about other cultures. The most efficient way to
expand the government’s corps of Pashto or Arabic speakers isn’t to
send native-born Americans to language schools; it’s to recruit native
speakers of those languages.

Similar considerations early in the Cold War led Congress to pass the
Lodge Act in 1950. This law allowed the Army Special Forces to recruit
foreigners not living in the United States with the promise of
citizenship after five years of service. More than 200 Eastern
Europeans qualified as commandos before the Lodge Act expired in 1959.
There’s no reason why we couldn’t recruit a fresh batch of foreigners
today. It would certainly be easier than trying to sweet-talk more
troops out of recalcitrant allies or, these days, recruiting at U.S.
high schools.

{Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.}