Wednesday December 30, 2009
What is it?
While it considers a two-year continuance, the Defense Department has extended by 60 days (to February 28, 2010) the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) pilot-recruiting program, which was set to expire December 31, 2009. The MAVNI program enlists non-citizens legally in this country who have certain foreign language or medical expertise. MAVNI-recruited Soldiers are eligible for expedited U.S. citizenship.
Why is the Army doing this?
The Army has an ongoing need for medical personnel (surgeons, dentists, nurse anesthetists, etc.) and Soldiers who speak foreign languages deemed critical, such as Pashto (a language of Afghanistan), Arabic, and Persian-Dari. Admiral Eric Olson, commander, United States Special Operations Command, has said it is "operationally critical" to expand such capabilities. The MAVNI program, established November 2008 as a one-year pilot for all military branches, has helped address the need for such skills.
Having demonstrated success in recruiting legal non-citizens with the needed skills, extending the pilot program another two years (if approved) would allow the Army to evaluate MAVNI-recruited personnel's performance over time while enlisting even more people meeting the program's criteria.
What has the Army done?
The program has recruited 700 critical foreign language speakers as of December 23, 09. On the medical side, 115 health care professionals have joined the Army so far.
MAVNI recruits meet higher standards than other Army enlistees. In addition to the MAVNI criteria, they must have a high school diploma and score at least 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Applicants are screened thoroughly by the Army, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.
Besides having the sought-after skills, MAVNI recruits are well educated. Of the foreign language speakers recruited, 66 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher, with almost half of them having a master's degree. MAVNI applicants' average Armed Forces Qualifications Test score is 79, well above that for all Army applicants, which is 60.
What's the way forward?
The Army will continue recruiting medical personnel and speakers of critical foreign languages via the MAVNI program until February 28, 2010 while the Defense Department considers extending the program two years.
Where can one find more information and/or apply?
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