Thursday, February 03, 2005

Military recruitment

Once I sat in a parking lot outside a big mall. Two military recruiters walked by: one a Marine, dressed to the nines. I love those Marine uniforms and the other in Army greens, both spiffy! What attracted my attentiion was not so much them but their actions. It was kind of like they were stalking this kid. Later on they walked up to him and began talking. I was reminded of Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons. I don't know what was said but hey gave him some literature and off he went. For a moment, I felt incredibly sorry for the Recruiters.

First of all, they are under enormous pressure. Most of them are "detailed" to it for a certain period of time. They have to produce. They are under pressure--most are career soldiers and if they don't do the job, will find themselves at a career dead end. They shouldn't have to do this: stalk youngsters, spend time talking them into the military. It is demeaning. It should be a privileged to serve.

There's a big hullabaloo in recruiters telemarketing High School seniors. How did they get the numbers? How dare they do this? There's a kind fo beliegerance: how dare a military recruiter try to talk to my kid. Disdain!

And, the military falls further behind especailly in the National Guard; they are as much as 30 percent behind what they should have. The military has doubled its advertising spending, to recruits. Standards have been lowered with benefits while signup bonuses have been increased. The Army is bombaring MTV with ads, suggesting a visit to to play a video game. It has sponsored a NASCAR entry and even has a dragster.

What does all this mean. Plain and simple it means that the American public is distancing itself from the military. It is what having a Volunteer Army does. As long as the public can keep the military isolated to only those kids who want to serve, then the vast majority of kids can be free to pursue their lives at college or whatever it might be sans military. Most parents don't want to take the chance of having their eighteen year old talk to some salesman's pitch on the military.

I also wonder something else. Is all this hype and glory in honoring the soldier truly sincere on the part of the public. With the fervor of "honoring the military," I've begun to wonder. Is this a kind of projection: we really don't want to feel guilty or bad

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