37,000 Non-citizens Fighting US Wars?
September 4, 2003
EAW Asks Congress to Investigate
A British Member of Parliament has accused the US of fighting its wars with "green-card fodder." The Pentagon is cited as admitting that more than 37,000 of its troops are non-citizens. MP George Galloway argues that non-citizens are putting their lives at risk in hopes of winning US citizenship. EAW has asked for an investigation.
Copies of this EAW letter were sent to numerous members of the House and Senate.
Hon. Barbara Lee
House Office Building
Washington, DC 20215
Dear Congressmember Lee,
Greetings and best wishes from Environmentalists Against War, a global coalition of more than 100 environmental organizations with headquarters in San Francisco and Berkeley.
The enclosed report recently came to our attention, courtesy of Thomas W. Warner of the No War Against Iraq Coalition. It was originally posted on the Al Jazeera website.
The article, by James Gooder, claimis that "Nearly 40,000 of America's Frontline Soldiers Are Not US Citizens." The charge is based on an interview with British MP George Galloway, who charged that many of the US troops on duty in Iraq do not count English as their first language. Galloway has accused the US of using "green-card troops" as cannon fodder.
According to the article, the Pentagon has admitted that "there are 37,401 non-US citizens on active duty, and that joining up has a special incentive for them - an American passport."
Environmentalists Against War contacted the Center for Defense Information to check these figures. The CDI had not researched the issue but a staffer volunteered that the number seemed "high" for combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The figure attributed to the Pentagon could refer to the total number of non-citizens serving in all branches of the armed services, both at home and abroad.)
George Montez of the LA-based coalition, Latinos Against the War in Iraq, told EAW that he understands from personal reports that "many Latinos are put in the most dangerous situations" and this is reflected in the casualty and mortality figures.
Would your office be able to check on the number of non-citizen soldiers in the US armed forces and, particularly on the number of non-citizens placed in harm's way in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan? A review of the surnames on the DOD's casualty and mortality lists would also suggest whether minority citizens (and non-citizens) are bearing an unfair share of combat dangers.
Thank you very much for any assistance you can provide.
Gar Smith, co-founder, Environmentalists Against War
Environmentalists Against War is a global nonprofit coalition of more than 100 environmental, social justice and peace organizations in more than a dozen countries.
The Al Jazeera Article<.big>
Nearly 40,000 of America's Frontline Soldiers Are Not US Citizens *
James Gooder / Al Jazeera
(August 31, 2003) -- Many of the troops on duty in Iraq do not count English as their first language and would prefer to take orders in their native tongue ... usually Spanish. The revelation has prompted British MP George Galloway, one of the fiercest critics of the invasion of Iraq, to accuse the US of using its "green card" troops as cannon fodder.
Galloway went on to attack the US policy of putting its poor minorities and non-citizens in the frontline of its foreign wars. In an exclusive interview he told Aljazeera.net that it was part of a long US tradition of using its underclass as cannon fodder.
The statistics, buried by White House spin doctors, reveal that a significant minority of troops fighting under the US banner are not in fact US citizens but residents hoping to speed up their citizenship.
Galloway said that this was typical of a government used to having the marginalised fight its battles. "Nothing has changed since that last failed attempt to invade and determine the future of another country, Vietnam," he told Aljazeera.net from his holiday villa in Portugal.
"The proportion of blacks in the army was 40%, while in the US population the number of blacks was a quarter of that," he said. "Of course the underclass has now become increasingly more Hispanic than black."
This explains why a disproportionate number of the so-called US casualties in the invasion and occupation of Iraq have borne Latino names. "The people who made the decisions never sent their sons to get hot, bloody and dirty on the battlefield."
Galloway says that on a weekly Atlanta radio show in which he participates, the callers have repeatedly claimed that Blacks and Hispanics are the fodder army recruiters are after.
The Pentagon says that there are 37,401 non-US citizens on active duty, and that joining up has a special incentive for them -- an American passport.
"The military services have processes and programmes in place to help service members expedite their citizenship," says a US Department of Defense spokesperson. "The estimated time for the application is about six months."
Citizenship has been especially hard to come by due to the draconian immigration rules imposed by the US Department of Homeland Security since the 11 September 2001 attacks. It can take several years to gain citizenship, for those lucky enough to get it. Signing up to the army can speed this up, provided the GI comes home alive.
Other incentives under the Montgomery GI Bill include the promises of a college fund of up to $50,000, post service employment and training. But activist Carlos Montez of the Los-Angeles-based coalition, Latinos Against the War in Iraq [http://www.latinoscontralaguerra.org], says that many soldiers have told him that these promises often fail to materialize.
The US military relies on volunteers, the Pentagon argues, and there is no official draft, therefore no pressure on anyone to sign up. Yet in a country where further education is prohibitively expensive, and medical care privatized, these incentives deliberately target America's poor minorities, as well as those desperate for citizenship, freeing the sons and daughters of those with money and influence from service.
"The people who made the decisions never sent their sons to get hot, bloody and dirty on the battlefield," Galloway said.
Even when there was a draft, the decision-makers stayed out of trouble. "The white sons of the rulers of America, including a certain George W. Bush, have always found ways around the draft, in his case through his bogus service in the air auxiliary, while Dick Cheney took one course after another at university," he said.
Galloway, the Glasgow Kelvin MP who has consistently criticized US and British policy on Iraq, famously called Bush and Blair "wolves" over their war-like rhetoric leading up to the invasion. He opposed UN sanctions imposed after the last Gulf War complaining that they inflicted huge suffering on ordinary Iraqis.
Mr. Galloway has visited Iraq on numerous occasions and met the country's former president and major figures in the Baathist government. But he was also a vigorous campaigner during the Thatcher years, picketing the Iraqi embassy in London, when the Conservative government supplied arms to Saddam Hussein.
Environmentalists Against War contacted the Center for Defense Information to check these figures. A CDI spokesperson claimed that the center had not researched this issue but volunteered that the number seemed "high" for forward-placed combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The figure attributed to the pentagon could refer to the number of non-citizens serving in all branches of the armed services -- both at home and abroad.
George Montez of Latinos Against the War in Iraq told EAW that he understands from personal reports that "many Latinos are put in the most dangerous situations" and this is reflected in the casualty and mortality figures.
EAW has called for a Congressional investigation into the allegations that non-citizen and minority citizens may be bearing an unfair share of the dangers faced by US troops deployed in the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.