Australia to Allow Foreign Nationals to Join Its Army

Flag of Australia on soldier arm. Flag of Australia on military uniforms (collage).

In 2025, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will begin accepting applicants from the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. This decision is in line with the National Defence Strategy’s mandate for the Defense Department to attract, maintain, and develop an exceptionally qualified and specialized force. 

The application process for the Australian Defense Force (ADF) will open to qualified citizens of New Zealand in July 2024 and to permanent residents of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada in January 2025.

Prospective members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are required to meet specific criteria, including one year of continuous residency in the country, no foreign military service during the last two years, and the ability to apply for and get Australian citizenship. Defense Personnel Minister Matt Keogh stated that the most valuable asset of the Defense Department is its people and that creative solutions were needed to solve the problem of recruiting shortages.

As it attempts to fortify its military capabilities in response to increasing regional threats, Australia has been confronted with recruiting shortages. Modifying the qualifying standards is vital to addressing the nation’s security issues in the coming decade and beyond. Their shared experience of fighting side by side in Gallipoli in World War One had already established a historic “Anzac bond” between Australia and New Zealand.

To raise the number of uniformed soldiers by 30% within twenty years, the former administration pledged A$38 billion (£19.8 billion; $25.4) in 2020. It has been “tough” to recruit due to Australia’s low unemployment rate; according to the latest government estimates, the ADF is now short of around 4,400 personnel.

The new eligibility conditions are designed to fulfill the security requirements and ADF entrance standards, with the goal of recruiting from a far broader pool of candidates. A permanent resident must meet the following criteria: be eligible for Australian citizenship, have been a permanent resident of Australia for more than one year, and not have served in a foreign armed force in the last two years.

Although the opposition is not opposed to the plan per se, opposition spokesman Simon Birmingham claimed that the government’s defense policy was eroding morale and faith in the military.