Joining the military is the dream of a lot of people. To wear the uniform, train hard and serve the nation from the front is a matter of utmost pride and honour. Every year, millions of people apply for a job with the armed forces of their nations. But did you know that a lot of these forces around the world also recruit foreign nationals?
You read it right. Countries like India, USA, France and Britain recruit citizens of other nations into their army. Putting other criteria like age, height, weight, etc. aside, here is a list of countries who welcome foreigners into their armed forces.
The Indian army recruits citizens of Nepal and Bhutan. Also, refugees from Tibet and people of Indian origin from nations like Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Vietnam with an intention of permanently settling in India can also join the Indian army.
2. The United States of America
The US Army recruits foreign nationals who are a permanent legal resident of the US. Moreover, non-US citizens from friend nations can also join the American army as an enlisted soldier.
Fun Fact – The US Army is older than the country it serves.
The British army recruits Gurkhas from Nepal. Additionally, it also recruits citizens of the Commonwealth Nations except those of Cyprus and Malta. However, people from Cyprus, Malta and Republic of Ireland can join after residing at least 5 years in the UK.
Fun Fact – The British army chose Red colour for their jackets because red dye was the cheapest at the time.
The Australian Defence Forces recruit citizens of New Zealand who are a permanent resident of the nation. Also, citizens of allied nations who are willing to obtain an Australian citizenship and have military experience can also join the Australian armed forces.
Fun Fact – Australia spends $87 million a day on the military.
Canadian forces recruit foreign nationals who are permanent residents of the nation as long as the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) believes that it would not harm their national interests.
Fun Fact – Canadian soldiers in WW1 were called ‘Stormtroopers’ for being precise, relentless, intelligent and highly organised.
The French army has a branch called the French Foreign Legion which was originally formed to protect and expand the French colonial empire in 1831. Anyone who has a valid passport and clean criminal record can join the legion.
Fun Fact – The French Foreign Legion accepts foreign nationals, but only French people can attain the rank of Officer.
The Israeli Defence forces recruits non-Israeli Jews and also non-Jews who have at least one Jewish grandparent. The Israelis have special programmes called ‘Mahal’ and ‘Garin Tzabar’ for people who wish to join.
Fun Fact – Every adult Israeli (18 years old), whether male or female, is required to serve in the army.
8. New Zealand
Any serving member of the militaries of the Australian, American, British or Canadian militaries can join the New Zealand defense forces. Also, anyone who has been living in New Zealand for over 5 years can also apply to join the forces.
Fun Fact – Although a very small army, New Zealand soldiers have served in all the major conflicts of the 20th century.
The Spanish military recruits citizens from ex-Spanish colonies except those from Puerto Rico and The Philippines. Also, citizens of Spanish-speaking nations (like Costa Rica, Mexico, etc.) can enroll in the Spanish Legion.
Fun Fact – The Spanish Legion was set up in 1920s to serve as part of Spain’s ‘Army of Africa’.
Any citizen of the European Union is eligible to join the Belgian armed forces.
Fun Fact – Prince Joachim of Belgium serves in the Belgian Navy.
Foreign nationals living in Denmark can apply to join the Danish military forces, provided they have command over the Danish language and are in the process of getting a Danish citizenship. The applications are to be made in writing and are evaluated on an individual basis.
Fun Fact – Founded in 1614, the Danish Army is over 400 years old.
The Bahrain army recruits foreigners, mainly from the Arabic countries and Pakistan. However, it has become a matter of debate in the nation as native Bahrinis are Shias while the foreign recruits are Sunni.
Fun Fact – The Crown Prince of Bahrain is the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defence Force.
Citizens of the European Economic Area can join the Irish national army. Also, citizens of other nations who have lived in Ireland for over 3 years can apply for the Irish army.
Fun Fact – Although Ireland remained neutral during WW2, about 5000 Irish soldiers joined the British troops.
A person who is a citizen of the European Union and has lived in the Luxembourg for over 3 years is eligible to join the Luxembourg army.
Fun Fact – The Luxembourg army is one of the smallest in the world, with just over a 1000 active members.
Although Monaco’s defence is the responsibility of France, the nation has a small group of armed forces for the protection of the Prince’s Palace called ‘The Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince’ which recruits French nationals.
Fun Fact – The Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince’ company of Monaco has only 119 members.
The Norwegian armed forces recruits citizens of Iceland by an agreement between the two nations.
Fun Fact – A Cyber Defence Force was formed in 2012 to counter cyber attacks on the nation and improve military communications.
The Serbian armed forces recruits Serbian speaking citizens of the European Union nations and also former Soviet Union nations.
Fun Fact – The current Serbian army is only 10 years old, as it was reorganised in 2006.
18. Vatican City
The Vatican City has only one armed force, called the ‘Swiss Guards’ which is entirely made up of Swiss Catholics. However, these guards are given Vatican citizenship while they serve.
Fun Fact – The Swiss Guard of Vatican City is the world’s smallest army.
So which military did you like the most?