Is U.S. Foreign Legion a Good Idea?

Allison Loudermilk

Francophiles in the French Foreign Legion (Getty Images)

A proposed new U.S. military program may offer U.S. citizenship in as little as six months to qualified temporary immigrants who enlist. Is it akin to hiring mercenaries or an attempt to fill language and resource needs that recruiters haven't been able to meet, despite enrollment that's surged along with unemployment?

Here are the basics, according to the New York Times, which featured the story in Sunday's paper: Temporary immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for at least two years will be able to apply to the program, which will start small: 1,000 people at first, mostly for the Army. The military is looking for recruits with skills in medicine, foreign languages and analyzing intelligence data from the field. According to the story, the program could bring in 14,000 folks a year, spread across the military. If the temp immigrants don't fulfill their service (three years for the language recruits and four years for the medical professionals), their new citizenship could be in jeopardy.

Some critics see the program as another way to prevent wars from reaching pampered Americans who aren't willing to risk life and limb but are willing to gripe about homeland security. Others regard it warily as loophole for wily terrorists. The thing is, foreign-born citizens are already in the U.S. military -- to the tune of several thousand. Others argue that it's about time the military starting thinking creatively about its need for more soldiers with specialized skills. Whatever your take, citizenship will be a pretty powerful lure for signing up.

As far as we can tell, neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor Homeland Security has issued a press release on the pilot program, but if that changes, let us know, and we'll post it here. The fearless French tried out something similar with the French Foreign Legion eons ago, and it's still going strong. And the idea has been floated before, like here on Miltary.Com. What do you guys think?

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