December 07, 2017

Foreign National Recruitment Must Stay True to Its Roots Under Trump Administration

By Jennie Kim and Jeesue Lee

Last December, the U.S. Department of Defense suspended the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program, which responsible for recruiting foreign nationals living legally in the U.S. who have mission-critical foreign language, cultural, and medical skills, in exchange for an expedited path to citizenship.

In an October announcement, the Defense Department introduced two policies that indicate a longer and more strenuous vetting process for the program. These policies foreshadow a coming shift in the ability to recruit military personnel with critical skills.

Recruits brought in under the program serve as interpreters, physicians, and nurses, providing skills that simply cannot be quickly grown in-house, and can mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield. By making the process to obtain citizenship through the program more challenging, the U.S. military is hurting mission readiness, as well as its ability to properly maintain its all-volunteer force.

The reasons for the program's suspension are two-fold. Some lawmakers have pointed to the potential for foreign infiltration as a primary cause to end or tighten the program. Oklahoma Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) criticized the program’s vetting process as rife with security problems, citing the “lack of discipline in [the] implementation of the program.”

Read the full commentary in Independent Journal Review.

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