Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What percentage of the U.S military is made up of citizens from other countries?

Who's asking: Mike Clements, W. Gardiner, ME

Service is the U.S. military is a time-honored method of immigrating to the United States, and since 2001, an executive order offers expedited citizenship to foreign nationals who serve in our military. My hometown has a large Filipino community, many of whose members originally came to Norfolk through a connection to the U.S. Navy.

That said, it must be a little surreal to wear the uniform of a country other than one's own homeland, and not very many people do it. While 7,500 members of the U.S. military became citizens in 2004, foreign nationals make up less than 3% of our military -- about 30,000 soldiers, sailors and Marine in all. The number of new non-citizen recruits declined last year, but the number of new recruits overall declined last year, too.

I grew up in a Navy family; I'm proud of my father's service, and have always been a little sorry that I didn't serve. But enlisting or enrolling in a service academy means that you trust your government to use you well -- and that's a lot to ask, in the United States of America in the year of our Lord 2006. Damn it.

Random songs off the iPod Shuffle this morning:

"Ranking Full Stop," The English Beat. Excellent skating music. If the weather holds, ponds should be ready for skating in another week or two...

"Whistling in the Dark," They Might Be Giants. Another potential theme song for my life. "I'm having a wonderful time/But I'd rather be whistling in the dark..."

"Come to Love," Matthew Sweet. This album (100% Fun) is not as good as his masterpiece, Girlfriend, but it's close. Nothing's better than solid pop.

"Chicago," Sufjian Stevens. My favorite cut off this CD (Illinois), which was a birthday gift from my friend Tom. Thanks, Tom!

"Love is Teasin'," Marianne Faithfull and The Chieftains. Marianne Faithfull is on my short list of famous people I'd invite to a dinner party. Don't you think she'd be cool to know?


Anonymous said...

If I may expand on this. I work on Naval ships and have seen a big increase in African sailors. In my experience they are very friendly and very competent. Most of the foreign born personell I know are actively working on becoming U. S. citizens.

AnswerGirl said...

Yes, one of the articles I found said that traditionally most foreign nationals came from Central and Latin America or from East Asia, but that there'd been a big increase in African recruits.

Maine sends a lot of its kids into the military, for the same reason I expect recruitment's increasing from Africa: young people can't use their educations or get opportunities equal to their ability in the private sector. The military offers upward mobility in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

Adam's ship has a sailor who was born in China. He and his parents were brought over on a ship in a cargo container. The INS intercepted the container at the pier and they were able to stay. He is now serving in the US Navy and applying for citizenship.

There are also a few sailors from Latin America on board working toward citizenship.


Running from my House said...

i've often thought that line from whistling in the dark is a classic. except i can't whistle out- only in.

is that normal?

AnswerGirl said...

I don't know, but I can only whistle in, too! It must be an attribute of exceptionally cool people.

Anonymous said...

ok, how many people immediately whistled after reading these comments? I know I did...

Linda Brown said...

I've yet to meet an Army or Air Force brat or Navy -- what do you call them, Clair? juniors? -- who is not proud of their father's service.

Like you, I toyed with the idea of going into the Army (just like Dad). But (just like you?) I'm afraid the notion of not challenging authority was just impossible for me!

And that, too, is how most of the military brats I know, feel... I suspect our fathers despair of us for that -- and perhaps are also a little proud of us for that?

Linda Brown said...

p.s. do you have a helmet for skating, Clair? I seem to recall a couple of head injury incidents last winter...

AnswerGirl said...

Do I LOOK like a sissy?