Hell no, they don’t want to go!
“Army recruiting is in a death spiral,” says retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Krohn, a lifelong Republican and former Pentagon public affairs official.
As the bloody colonial occupation of Iraq drags on into its third year, the Army missed its recruiting goals for three straight months entering May—falling short by a staggering 42 percent in April.
The Army Reserve fell short 37 percent. The Marine Corps has missed its recruiting target for four consecutive months.
After months of declining enlistments, the Pentagon has announced it will postpone the release of its numbers for May.
Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commander of Army recruiting, recently predicted that 2006 could be the toughest recruiting year since the draft was ended in 1973. According to USA Today, Rochelle “projected the service will have only half the number of recruits ready for 2006 than it did this year, when it had an unusually low number of recruits signed up in advance.”
The Pentagon has responded to the crisis by increasing both the number of recruiters and the recruiting budget. The Army has increased its recruiting force by more than 25 percent. Enlistment bonuses have been increased to $20,000.
The military is also releasing new advertising geared toward “influencers”—parents, coaches and teachers. But there is no indication that these measures are having any effect on the decline.
There is no doubt what is behind this decline: the deterioration of the occupation in Iraq and the growing sentiment in the United States against the war. Krohn, an active supporter of Bush in 2000, told friends that “the recruiting problem is an unintended consequence of a prolonged war in Iraq, especially given the failure to find WMD [weapons of mass destruction].”
Despite more aggressive and often dishonest tactics, recruiters are encountering resistance on campuses from students who are concerned about fighting and dying in a war for empire. Even Army public-information specialist Julia Bobick admitted, “Our recruiters have experienced a lot of apprehension from recruits with regard to serving in the war on Iraq.”
A recruiter in Ohio told the New York Times, “Parents are the biggest hurdle we face.”
According to the Times, a Defense Department survey shows that only 25 percent of parents would recommend military service to their children, down from 42 percent in August 2003. Many parents cited opposition to the war in Iraq as their reason.
The Times reported that several recruit ers say they’ve even been threatened with violence. “I had one father say if he saw me on his doorstep I better have some protection on me,” said a recruiter in Ohio. “We see a lot of hostility.”
This anger and determination to protect young people from military recruiters is leading parents and local activists to take action across the country. Some are working to educate students about a little-known provision of the No Child Left Behind Act that allows recruiters access to young peoples’ personal information.
In May, the Parent Teacher Student Associ ation of Garfield High School in Seat tle adopted a resolution that says “public schools are not a place for military recruiters.”
One of the Garfield parents, Steve Ludwig, said that the military is performing “illegal acts. ... What I object to is their coming here to recruit students to perform those acts. It’s not about free speech.”
The slump in recruiting is leading many to speculate about the return of the draft.
Defense analyst Lawrence Korb, an assistant defense secretary in the Reagan era, said the future of the all-volunteer military hinges on the success of military recruiters. If they don’t succeed, it could force Congress to reconsider a draft.
J.E. McNeil, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, recently told an audience of activists that the low recruiting numbers and the strain the Iraq war has placed on the all-volunteer military—especially the National Guard and reserves—had created a “perfect storm” of conditions that could lead to the return of conscription.
And conscription, in turn, would create a storm of resistance.
For more information visit: www.join-snafu.org
By Dustin Langley GI resistance counselor
Published Jun 11, 2005 5:17 PM
This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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