Fodder Watch

From Holden:

Non-citizens are avoiding U.S. military service in droves.

The number of foreign nationals enlisting in the U.S. military is dropping, even though service now provides a fast track to American citizenship, an Associated Press review of military data shows. The decrease in non-citizen enlistees, who hail from countries such as the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria and Germany, has hit all branches of the armed services, which already are struggling with recruitment as the U.S. presence in Iraq enters year three.

While U.S. citizen enlistments also have fallen, the drop is more pronounced among non-citizens – legal immigrants the military has long let serve as everything from cooks to front line soldiers, though not generally as officers.


The decline surprises immigration and military experts, who expected that green-card holders who might otherwise wait years to become Americans would jump at the citizenship offer President Bush (website – news – bio) extended nearly three years ago.

Instead, the annual number of non-citizen enlistees has fallen nearly 20 percent from fiscal year 2001 – the last full year before the changes – to fiscal year 2004, according to military data. Much of the decline, from 11,829 to 9,477 recruits, came last year alone.

By comparison, annual enlistments among citizens dropped 12 percent, from 264,832 to 232,957 recruits.