US Army hits back on MAVNI story

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US Army hits back on MAVNI story

I covered this last week, and it's getting more contentious.  As I noted in that piece, certain individuals were enlisted into the Armed Forced under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI).   News reports stated that the people being forced out had NOT gone to Basic Training yet, and were waiting for their clearances.  In the comments section a person took umbrage with the article:

Your facts are wrong. As a security manager for active duty Army I can attest that active duty Soldiers are indeed being released from service over this. They were cleared for basic training once they had passed certain federal background checks but their MAVNI investigations continue during their first assignment. They are currently restricted from leaving their first duty station, even if unaccompanied, without a G-1 waiver.

As I responded in the comments, I have no actual knowledge of the situation, only what I read.  I'm not a counter-intel guy, have no connections to the program etc.  But I can read, which is what I did.  So, if my facts were wrong, I can accept that, but I can only report facts that I know, or read in articles.

Fast forward to today, and the Army is punching back at the meme that the Trump Administration and the DoD are forcing out immigrants for some sort of immigration policy reason:

The Pentagon pushed back against criticism that it was weeding out foreign-born troops Tuesdayand released court filings to show some international recruits in a program that granted citizenship through military service had falsified their background records and were connected to state-sponsored intelligence agencies, which led DoD to believe the program was vulnerable to insider threat.

The filings, from Tiwari v. Mattis, “provide context for you regarding the true national security issues at stake,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason.

Now, contrary to this being just a point of attack for some perceived push to purge immigrants from the military, DoD claims that there are specific problems with some of the MAVNI recruits, problems that are endemic to the larger population.

In a statement filed by Roger Smith, branch chief for personnel security policy at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, DoD argued that regular reviews of the program found security holes, including that some applicants could not be vetted because the U.S. lacked “access and the ability to conduct standard security screening and interviews with associates, friends, and family members, as many MAVNI soldiers are from nations who remain hostile to the United States or do not have data-sharing agreements with the United States.”

In addition, in his statement Smith said that through a 2016 review, DoD found that “(1) a number of individuals accessed into the military based on receiving fraudulent visas to attend universities that did not exist; (2) some MAVNI recruits attended, and later falsified transcripts from, universities owned by a Foreign National Security Agency and a State Sponsored Intelligence Organization (notably, most of the university classmates of one MAVNI recruit later worked for the same State Sponsored Intelligence Organization); and (3) one MAVNI recruit who entered the United States on a student visa professed support for 9/11 terrorists and said he would voluntarily help China in a crisis situation.”

This is clearly troubling, and goes well beyond some perceived political issue to the heart of National Security.

As a companiion piece on Military Times noted:

The reversal [in a seperate lawsuit] comes as the Defense Department has attempted to strengthen security requirements for the program, through which historically immigrants vowed to risk their lives for the prospect of U.S. citizenship. The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, known as MAVNI, ultimately was suspended.

"There are no individuals being either released from their contracts or separated from the military due to their immigration status," said Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason. "There are significant risks from insider threats such as espionage, terrorism, and other criminal activity across the program."

Again, I can only go off what I read, since I am not an expert on the program.  But when you have recruits lying about their background, and that background includes family members in foreign intelligence services, and a guy who supported the 9/11 attackers, it seems a decent idea to stop the program and take another look.

Posted in the burner | 1 comment
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thx for the burnpit articles

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.