DoD Might Renege On Enlistment Contracts For Foreign-Born Service Members

Joining the Military
Thirty-one military personnel stood before friends and family during a military naturalization ceremony and gained their citizenship in the Pentagon Courtyard on Sept. 10, 2009.
Photo via DoD

About 1,000 foreign-born service members who enlisted under the Delayed Entry Program but whose visas have expired could have their military contracts canceled and face deportation under a proposed Department of Defense policy, the Washington Post reports.


In his first dispatch as a reporter for the newspaper, Army veteran Alex Horton obtained an “undated action memo” for Secretary of Defense James Mattis that details “potential security threats of immigrants recruited in a program designed to award fast-tracked citizenship in exchange for urgently needed medical and language skills.”

Under that Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program, the U.S. armed services have recruited more than 10,000 “legal aliens” with critical mission skills like medicine or cultural and linguistic expertise since 2009. But the DoD memo reveals that since last year, Pentagon planners have been putting those service members, as well as new MAVNI recruits, through an extreme vetting process that’s drained “Army fiscal and manpower resources.”

As a result, memo’s unidentified DoD authors recommend “canceling enlistment contracts for all 1,800 awaiting orders for basic training, and halting the program altogether,” Horton reports. Most of those enlistees are DEPpers who are already preparing for military service while they await their recruit-training entry.

Ironically, those DEP enlistees could end up in immediate danger of deportation if they are dropped off their contracts; military recruiting commands already have their contact information and deep background data. Most of the recruits’ immigrant visas expired while they were awaiting a boot-camp report date, but under the proposal laid out in the DoD memo, none would get special consideration as a result.

Besides representing a total renege on its commitment to enlistees, the added scrutiny to immigrant service members was based more on prejudices than on hard evidence or cold reason, according to retired Army officer Margaret Stock, who helped stand up the MAVNI program in 2009.

“It’s okay to investigate someone with a legitimate security threat,” she told the Post. “But [these service members] share a characteristic they don’t like, which is they’re foreigners. They’re going to be treated as second-class citizens for their entire career.”

Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.

The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.

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Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."

That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.

When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

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According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.

"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

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If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.

The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

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As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.

And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.

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