It was great to read about the enlistment ceremony held in Times Square on Wednesday by the Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey. He swore in the first batch of recruits who have signed up under a trial program that allows the enlistment of certain immigrants who lack citizenship or even a Green Card. As reported by the New York Times, there is a lot of interest: “Of 4,833 applicants so far, 52 people have enlisted, including Wednesday’s group, while 445 have been disqualified, military officials said.”
Given that unemployment is rising, recruiting homegrown Americans will get easier. That will make it tempting for the Department of Defense to abort this program or not expand it. That would be a mistake. Those who are signing up bring vital skills, many of them in short supply in the military:
Of the 52 new enlistees, 11 have master’s degrees, 31 have bachelor’s degrees and 4 have associate’s degrees or the equivalent, officials said. The remaining six are high school graduates. At least 24 of the soldiers speak Korean, 11 speak Hindi, 9 speak a Chinese dialect, 3 speak Russian, 3 speak Arabic and one speaks Urdu.
The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest should be expanded, no matter what happens with traditional recruiting.