Non-Citizens in the Enlisted U.S. Military

Published Date: November 1, 2011

Although in recent years non-citizens have made up only a small share of enlisted accessions (roughly 4 percent), they are a potentially valuable pool for enlisted recruiting for three reasons. First, the number of U.S. non-citizens who are eligible for enlisted military service is large. Approximately 1.2 million non-citizens are in the desired age range (18 to 29) and have the requisite education, resident status, and English language ability for enlistment. Second, our data suggest that a sizable share of the recruitable U.S. non-citizen population comes from diverse backgrounds and possesses language and cultural skills that are of strategic interest to the U.S. military. Third, we find that non-citizen recruits are far less likely than citizen recruits to attrite in the first term, even after controlling for demographic and service-related characteristics that likely affect attrition.