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Foreign national

Definition A foreign national refers to any person who is not a citizen of the host country in which they are living or operating. In military operations, these individuals may come into contact with forces either as civilians, allies, or adversaries. Their rights and interactions may be governed by local laws, international laws, or military […]


A foreign national refers to any person who is not a citizen of the host country in which they are living or operating. In military operations, these individuals may come into contact with forces either as civilians, allies, or adversaries. Their rights and interactions may be governed by local laws, international laws, or military codes.

Key Takeaways

  1. Foreign Nationals refer to individuals who are not citizens of the country in which they are serving or present. In military operations context, the term is often used to define individuals from other countries who are involved or impacted by the military actions.
  2. These individuals often play significant roles in military operations by providing local expertise, assisting with coordination and communication efforts, or by directly participating in the operations. Their protection, as non-combatants, often becomes an important part of military mission planning and execution.
  3. Understanding and relationship-building with Foreign Nationals are crucial aspects in military operations. They often provide valuable insights into local culture, politics and social structures that can enhance the efficiency of operations and contribute to mission success.


The term “foreign national” in military operations is important because it refers to a person who is not a citizen of the host country where the military operation is taking place. Such individuals can significantly influence the political dynamics, execution, outcomes, or even the legality of the operation.

Their involvement could stem from being local resources, collaborators, adversaries, or neutral entities. Foreign nationals can also be subjected to, directly or indirectly affected, or displaced by military actions.

As such, how foreign nationals are treated, protected, or engaged with, within the framework of human rights, international law, and military ethics, can impact the reputation and relationships of the military force, both locally and internationally. Therefore, understanding and appropriately managing interactions with “foreign nationals” is crucial in military operations.


Foreign national is a term used prevalently within military operations and diplomacy to describe an individual who is not a citizen of the host country in which they are currently living or operating. Essentially, this individual hails from another country different from the one in which they are present. It’s important to understand that foreign nationals can constitute a wide range of people, including diplomats, military personnel, workers, immigrants, or even tourists.

Each of these categories brings a unique element of interaction for the military facets, particularly when it involves a situation pertaining to jurisdiction, security, humanitarian assistance, or international relations. The purpose of identifying foreign nationals in military operations is multifaceted. For one, it ensures the appropriate application of international laws and conventions during the conduct of military operations, especially in conflict zones.

It comforts the principle of non-combatant immunity and protection of civilian lives. Furthermore, the identification of foreign nationals can be crucial in rescue missions, evacuation operations, and humanitarian assistance endeavors, ensuring that exit strategies, diplomatic protocols, and international laws are all adhered to efficiently. In a broader sense, the recognition of foreign nationals aids in fostering better international relations, understanding cultural differences, and ensuring the respect and dignity of all involved, irrespective of their national origin.

Examples of Foreign national

Operation Atlantis: This was a covert CIA mission carried out in Bolivia in the late 1960s. The operation was led by CIA agent Felix Rodriguez, aided by a team of foreign nationals from several Latin American countries, to train and lead the Bolivian army battalion that ultimately captured and killed revolutionary Che Guevara.

Operation Iraqi Freedom: This was a military operation started by the United States and United Kingdom in 2003, with assistance from other countries like Australia and Poland. The operation involved many foreign nationals, specifically Iraqis, who the US forces trained and incorporated into the new Iraqi Security Forces as they sought to rebuild the Iraqi military after the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

Operation Anaconda: This took place in Afghanistan in early 2002 and was one of the first large-scale battles in the US-led war against the Taliban. United States forces led the operation but they worked closely with foreign nationals, including Afghan forces and other allied troops, in order to rout al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from the Shah-i-Kot Valley and Arma Mountains.

FAQs on Foreign National in Military Operations

1. Who is considered a Foreign National?

A Foreign National is an individual who is from a country other than the one where certain military operations or activities are being conducted. They are legally recognized as a national or citizen of a state different from that of the place they are currently present.

2. Can a Foreign National participate in Military Operations?

Typically, Foreign National participation in military operations may be limited and highly regulated in many countries. However, certain countries do allow foreign nationals to serve in their military under specific circumstances. This is typically subject to bilateral treaties, national laws, and military regulations. It’s best to check relevant guidelines for specific information.

3. What are the security implications when working with Foreign Nationals in Military Operations?

Working with Foreign Nationals in military operations may involve security risks such as potential espionage or conflicting loyalties. Hence, stringent procedures are in place, which include thorough background checks and security clearances, to mitigate these risks.

4. How are Foreign Nationals treated under military law?

Foreign Nationals are typically treated under the military law of the country they are serving. They are expected to adhere to the rules, regulations, and legalities outlined in the military law of the host country. However, their home country might also retain some legal rights. The details can vary based on specific agreements between the countries involved.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Visa Status: Denotes the foreign national’s standing in the U.S. and eligibility for VA benefits.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): The U.S. federal agency that provides benefits to veterans and their eligible family members outside the United States.
  • The Foreign Medical Program (FMP): A VA program that provides health care benefits to foreign nationals who are U.S. veterans.
  • Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA): A division of the VA responsible for administering benefits such as compensation, education, loan guaranty, and vocational rehabilitation.
  • Service-connected disability: A condition resulting from injuries or illnesses that were caused by or worsened during active military service, granting veterans the opportunity to receive related benefits overseas.

Sources for More Information

Sure, here are four reliable sources for information on the military operations term “Foreign national”:

  • U.S. Department of Defense: The official homepage of the United States Department of Defense, this search engine-friendly site provides access to a vast amount of military and defense-related information.
  • U.S. Department of State: The State Department’s official webpage where you can find information on U.S. policies, including those related to foreign nationals and military operations.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): As part of its mission, the FBI often deals with issues related to foreign nationals; its website is a rich source of information.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): This is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States and it provides a glossary of terms including “Foreign national”.

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