Peace Time: September 18, 2003


Each year,  8-9,000 non-citizens join the U.S. armed forces (about 4.6 percent of the total). There are currently 37,000 non-citizens on active duty, and another 20,000 in the reserves. Some five percent of all enlisted troops are foreign born, and in the navy it's seven percent. Some 3,000 non-citizen troops served in Iraq. Anyone who has served at least three years may immediately apply for U.S. citizenship. A new law would cut that to one year, and allow those killed in action to be made citizens posthumously. Obtaining citizenship earlier is important for non-citizen troops, for you cannot get a security clearance (needed for many military jobs) unless you are a citizen. An old law even allows the navy to enlist 400 citizens of the Philippines a year (this was to provide stewards for shipboard officers.) Some twenty percent of those who have received the Medal of Honor were immigrants, and during the American Civil War, about a quarter of the Union troops were foreign born. Foreign troops have always been a source of translators and civil affairs troops when the American armed forces are operating overseas. 


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