Thursday, February 24, 2005

An ingenious solution to U.S. military manpower woes

Max Boot has a brilliant idea for solving the increasing shortage of Americans willing to risk life and limb for the Bush administration, especially given the unlikelihood of a draft:
...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%).
According to Max, this idea isn't so original:
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.
Of course, there's also a pay-off for countries currently suffering high unemployment, although I dare think he's going to find a bit of resistance from the nativist wing of the Republican party:
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.
Boot also has come up with the perfect name for this new mercenary effort: the Freedom Legion. I don't know... sounds like another slight to the French to me:
French freedom fries. French Foreign Freedom Legion.
Yesterday I heard from an acquaintance here in El Salvador who had recently tried to make his way north, illegally. Traveling in his group (which only made it as far as Mexico, this time) was a former member of the Cuscatlán Battalion, someone who had been in the first contingent of Salvadoran troops to Iraq.

You see, having discovered in Iraq that every other military force in the world made many times more than his measily $200 a month, he seems to have dumped his multi-year career as an elite soldier in the Salvadoran armed forces and decided to risk a trip north. I'm sure he'd be willing to sign up.

UPDATE: Some churches have their own solution -- bringing military recruiters into the house of worship. (HT: kos)


J. said...

The church link was truly disturbing. Mixing military recruiting and church sermons just isn't right, especially when it leads to more Crusades-like confrontations (kill/intern all the Muslims!).

Anonymous said...

You'll be surprised to see that forming an american foreign legion won't be without the best results.As an active recruted in french foreign legion I'll be glad to leave it for one foreign legion more powerfull,more present in conflicts of the world,more implicated in military actions,more well trained and equiped because this is the only thing I know to do TO BE A SOLDIER,as I wished,voluntear.

Make it happend quickly before everyones lose the hope to get in what you call FREEDOM LEGION,because I'm not alone who wishes to get in US Army,there is more of us willing to get in,and everyone of us is upset about not having a chance,whitout beeing american citizen or resident on US teritory.

There is a story about the US goverment who wished to buy the french foreign legion,and that the france refused it because they wanted to sell with french officers with,and america say NO.

One thing I know,every legioneare is still dreaming about it.One last thing I have to say :DO IT,BORN THE FREEDOM LEGION

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to jpin US Armed Forces. I am Japan Passport holder, yet my love of USA is so much I want to join US Army to fight against International terrorists.
I request US Government to allow non-PR, non-US citizen to join US Amred Forces.

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Anonymous said...

I'm Belgian and ready to join as soon as the Legion is created.
Max Boot forgot to say that even if you have the green card. Foreigners can not join all the special op unit. Like Navy seals, army rangers, Green Berets etc.

And how do we get a green card? playing lottery? meh. I need family (I don't) or an employer. But the US army is not considered as an employer. So what do I do?

Again DO THE FREEDOM LEGION! Why can't we have this chance while thousands of other had it before us? We are still human with 1 noose 2 legs and 23 Chromosomes.