Recruiting summit considers more foreign nationals
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. (June 10, 2015) -- The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program allows the Army to recruit those living legally in the United States, but who are not citizens. Defense recruiting experts say expansion of the program could benefit Army accessions.

More than 100 defense researchers and senior military leaders, from the Department of Defense, as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, attended the two-day "Recruiting 2025 Summit," hosted by the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, or USAREC, headquartered on Fort Knox. The summit focused on developing solutions for the recruiting challenges facing the U.S. military's all-volunteer force. It wrapped up here, June 3.

During the summit on Fort Knox, 16 teams presented research papers offering possible courses of action to overcome critical issues facing military-recruiting efforts. The papers covered topics such as attracting the right people for the right jobs, measuring abilities and attributes, determining quality measures, supply and demand, and recruiting foreign-born nationals.

The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI, allows a certain number of foreign-born nationals to enlist periodically during times of war. The Army is allowed to enlist 3,000 MAVNI applicants for fiscal year 2015 and 5,000 for fiscal year 2016.

Margaret Stock, co-author of "The Impact and Potential of American's Foreign Born Population on Army Recruiting and Force 2025," said there is a bill in the House of Representatives to make the MAVNI program permanent.

Recruiting statistics have shown that foreign-born nationals who have enlisted in the Army have higher Armed Forces Qualification Test scores, much lower attrition and Future Soldier loss rates than American citizens who have enlisted, and 71 percent of them have college degrees.

"Thousands of immigrants would join the military if the quotas were lifted," Stock said. "The legal immigration system in this country is broken. It takes approximately five to 15 years for an immigrant to become a citizen."

The millennial generation was another key topic of discussion throughout the summit.

Debra S. Wada, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and Reserve affairs, said to attract millennials, the Army has to recognize what drives them and how to reach them.

"[We have to focus on what the Army is as an institution] - a values based organization. We believe in loyalty, duty, selfless service, honesty, and commitment," Wada said. "Those are the values ... that young Americans today, millennials ... are seeking in their employer. ... They want to be compelled to do a job that they believe is making a difference in society. ... They're not interested in how much money we can pay them."

All branches of the U.S. military are competing for talent in an environment where talent is more expensive to acquire, said Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet, USAREC commanding general. He believes the Army needs to focus on how it approaches the research, development, management, identification and selection of the people who serve.

"We need to relook how we define a quality individual and expand and modernize those measurements," Batschelet said. "Right now, quality is pretty much defined by whether you're a high school graduate and how well you do on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. There's a lot of discussion about being more precise in our identification and selection to serve by expanding screening into non-cognitive and more physical assessments, which would help in placing the right people in the right jobs."

Batschelet said if the Army wants to be more sophisticated in the way it acquires and grows talent, it needs to do away with the one-size-fits-all approach in selecting people to serve.

"We're going to have to be more flexible in things like physical screening," he said. "Does every Soldier need to be able to stand in a four-man stack and kick down a door? Perhaps not ... So are we flexible enough as an institution to adopt policies to take advantage of talented individuals, who want to serve but can't because of some limiting factor that wouldn't apply to their job?"

The next joint recruiting summit is scheduled to examine the potential use of emerging technologies to aid in the precise identification and selection of individuals best suited for positions in the armed forces.

The June summit is part of an ongoing joint recruiting discussion. The first session of that discussion was held in September at the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Virginia. The next session will be in December at the Institute of Defense Analysis.

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