Struggling to find enough doctors, nurses and linguists for the war effort, the Pentagon will temporarily try to recruit foreigners who have been living in the states on student and work visas as well as on refugee and political asylum status.
Officials say Defense Secretary Robert Gates is authorizing the armed forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose critical medical and language skills are "vital to the national interest."
In doing so, he is using for the first time a law passed three years ago.
The military previously has already been taking recruits who have green cards. But the new move allows the services to start a one-year pilot program to find up to 1,000 aliens who have lived in the states legally for at least two years on certain types of temporary visas.