CommunityPam's House Blend

Military recruiting: F*cked.

Can you feel the draft? WaPo has some sobering stats from the military. It needs a huge summer recruitment push to stop the hemorraghing. The Army is going to pull 500 seasoned noncommissioned officers to serve as additional recruiters from its active-duty units this summer to hijack needed warm bodies. Parents, protect your kids, these folks are going to be predatory and take ’em as young as they possibly can.

The Army missed its May active-duty recruiting goal of 6,700 by 1,661 recruits, pushing the shortfall for fiscal 2005 to 8,321 — or more than a month’s worth of recruits. The shortfall would have been 37 percent if the Army had not lowered its May goal. Overall, the Army has sent 40,964 enlistees to boot camp, and has four months to nearly double that figure to reach the 80,000 goal for this fiscal year.

Here is more pathetic info:

* A nationwide initiative launched last month to allow people to serve 15-month terms, not including training, has so far drawn only 44 additional recruits. [That’s got to be a kick in the nads to the military – it’s flipping embarrassing.]

* The Army is taking a harder look at keeping first-term soldiers in the force who might otherwise have been kicked out for problems such as drug abuse, poor conduct, or for failure to meet fitness or body-fat standards. [Great Caesar’s ghost, there’s nothing like having a doped-up, loose-screw, unfit colleague in the tank or on the line with you.]

* A equally hard look at raising the age limit for active-duty Army recruits from 35 to 40 is under way. This was changed for the reserve elements in March, but increasing it for the active-duty force requires congressional approval; the Army also wants the signing bonus upped from $20K to $40K. [Hey, that should make a whole bunch of those dirtbag DC politicians queasy, especially those up for re-election.]. I love the spin on the proposed change by Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, head of recruiting command (don’t laugh; just imagine the flop sweat of a sound bite of this guy):

…the change would bring in soldiers with greater experience and maturity, while making little difference in terms of physical abilities — saying that today’s 40-year-olds are in better physical shape than they were when the law was written.

I was watching All Quiet on the Western Front this AM. The 1930 Academy Award-winning film (Best Picture and Best Director) should be required viewing for any young person that encounters one of these recruiters or is contemplating enlisting. There’s also a decent 1979 version with Richard Thomas in the Lew Ayers role as well. The acting in the 1930, early sound-era film is a bit dated, but Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war message and director Lewis Milestone’s battle scenes are wonderfully rendered and still powerful.

“Our bodies are earth and our thoughts are clay and we sleep and eat with death.”

The effectiveness of the film lies in the portrayal of the “selling” of the war (WWI) to draft-age German schoolboys, glamorizing service, honor and duty and later showing the senselessness and violence of war and its impact on each of them. It resonates in light of the similar spin control and appeal of the ads we’re seeing for the Army today. The latest campaign is a naked appeal to parents’ patriotism, and so far, I’ve seen ones featuring white, black and Latino families, each with young people (men and women) talking to their parent about “making a commitment” or “doing something to make a difference in the world” — all soft-sell stuff — the punch line is the Army logo up onscreen. Nothing changes.

Earlier Blend posts:

* LAN parties — the new recruiting tool for the Army

* Army to miss recruiting targets, sibling combat policy on the table

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding