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July 31, 2005

Thank goodness for the colonies

With recruiters still struggling to meet their reduced monthly quotas in the Continental US, the New York Times reports that the Army is turning to United States Territories:

From Pago Pago in American Samoa to Yap in Micronesia, 4,000 miles to the west, Army recruiters are scouring the Pacific, looking for high school graduates to enlist at a time when the Iraq war is turning off many candidates in the States.

The Army has found fertile ground in the poverty pockets of the Pacific. The per capita income is $8,000 in American Samoa, $12,500 in the Northern Marianas and $21,000 in Guam, all United States territories. In the Marshalls and Micronesia, former trust territories, per capita incomes are about $2,000.

And while the Times cites patriotism alongside poverty as a motivation for enlistment in the US territories, the "tie between military service and economic advancement is clear to many young people here.

"It's the benefits," said Arnold Balisalisa, who took the [military] aptitude test here in late June. Taking a break from his $3.25-an-hour job at a McDonald's, he said: "It is better than staying on this island. There's nothing going on here. I'm 19, and I have never even been to Guam." "

In the Congressional hearings mentioned in Counterrecruiter's last post, Rep. McHugh (NY) said "“I just have to begin to wonder, however, at what point can we continue to buy a force.”  In the Continental US, that might get more difficult.  But with tourism drying up and manufacturing jobs in the garment industry being lost to China, the US territories in the Pacific seem likely to be fertile ground for recruiters promising signing bonuses and money for college. 

Posted by Kat Aaron on July 31, 2005 | Permalink

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