The Pentagon has suspended new applications for a program that offers expedited citizenship in exchange for military service after a report raised possible security concerns.
The program was created in 2008 as a means of recruiting troops with special skills in short supply, such as knowledge of a foreign language. Some soldiers enrolled in the program, however, were not properly vetted with background checks, and the Pentagon lost track of missing enrollees, Fox News reported Tuesday. Nearly 10,500 troops have entered the U.S. military under the program since 2009.
“Where are they? What do they know? Where are they serving? What are their numbers?,” were example questions the Pentagon could not answer of the missing enrollees, a lawmaker told Fox. Fox, citing members of Congress, noted that many of the latest recruits did not have special skills and were simply being used to fill other open billets.
The Washington Post reported in late June that the Pentagon was considering ending the program, which could leave approximately 1,000 recruits open to deportation. Security screening for recruits was also reportedly heightened last year — likely as a result of Pentagon concerns — drawing significant manpower away from other U.S. operations.
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