A Defense Department probe has uncovered “potential security risks” in a program the Pentagon uses to recruit people born outside the United States, and the military leaders are concerned about “foreign infiltration” and participants who now are unaccounted for, Fox News reports.
The program, known as Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), was created in the final days of the George W. Bush administration and instituted under President Barack Obama in 2009. More than 10,000 immigrants and non-immigrant aliens have joined the U.S. armed forces under the program that expedites American citizenship for participants.
The original purpose of the program was to recruit people with hard-to-find specialized skills, such as language interpreters, but in recent years has included people with non-specialized skills, such as cooks, drivers and mechanics, Fox’s James Rosen reported.
Though the program is still active, new applications have been suspended, according to the Department of Defense.
Among problems cited by the report: a backlog in the vetting process that allowed soldiers to be enrolled before their background checks were finished.
Fox quoted sources as saying some of the countries of origin of the recruits were “of concern,” though there is yet no public evidence that Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda or any other terrorist groups have infiltrated the armed forces.
“ISIS has always had desire to use migration as way to penetrate into countries,”retired U.S. Army General Jack Keane, told Fox. “They have done that successfully in Europe because of open borders, mass immigration with no vetting. In the U.S., we haven’t had any record of their penetration. And certainly if this program is compromised and there’s a possibility of that kind of penetration, it’s got to be thoroughly investigated.”