4 Nov 2012

Does the United States of America [USA] have any ulterior motive commencing the recruitment of young men and women from two ethnic groups in Nigeria: Igbo and Hausa into the US army?

According to the recruitment exercise’s dedicated website www.defence.gov/news/mavni-fact-sheet, the US army is looking for native speakers of 44 languages, including Hausa, Igbo, Azerbaijani, Cambodian-Khmer, Persian Dari (spoken in Afghanistan), Portuguese, Tamil (spoken in South Asia) and French (spoken in West Africa), among others.

The programme, code-named, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or Mavni, is not open to illegal immigrants, who are barred by law from enlisting. In general, immigrants who are not citizens must
have a permanent resident visa, known as a green card, to enlist. Under the programme, a total of 1,500 immigrants are to be recruited each year for two years, mainly into the Army.

Already, the New York Times, in its October 28, 2012 edition, reported the excitement of the recruits and US top officials handling the entire process.

Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the programme was intended to fill “some of our most critical readiness needs.”

The programme , which was reportedly active in 2009, was suspended in January 2010, only for it to be re-activated in September this year.

According to the report, thousands of immigrants were enthusiastic of being recruited throughout the period the exercise was put in abeyance in January 2010, despite the fact that they could be deployed to conflict spots around the world.

Towards the end of September, the US Army headquarters, Pentagon, re-opened the programme, which the authorities claim is designed to enlist legal immigrants with special language and medical skills.

Some analysts say the eagerness of the immigrants is due to the prevalent appalling socio-economic and political crises in their home countries, as it has encouraged the scramble by most youths for the American visa lottery, with prospect for job opportunities in the United States.

US military officials were quoted as saying the year-long pilot programme brought an unusually well-educated and skilled cohort of immigrants into the armed services.

“Their qualifications were really stellar,” said Naomi Verdugo, assistant deputy for recruiting for the Army. “And we have been very pleased about how these folks have been performing.”

The programme is open to immigrants on temporary visas, who otherwise would not be eligible to enlist, while to qualify, immigrants must have been living in the US legally for at least two years, as well as be high school graduates and pass the entrance test.

According to the report, the first round filled up quickly, and the Army turned away thousands of people. Many of them signed the Facebook petition and were hoping the programme would start again.

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