August 27, 2005
Rush Limbaugh & Fox News Caught Lying Over Military Recruitment Data
Media Matters has posted two recent advisories on how Rush Limbaugh and Fox News have been misleading listeners and viewers on the state of the country's military recruiting:
On Aug. 24, Limbaugh claimed:
- "Recruitment levels are way above what expectations are in every branch, including the reserves. This is a big myth that the media has put out there that people aren't signing up. In the midst of the [Cindy] Sheehan squatters, in the ditch at Crawford [Texas], in the midst of all the coming of age of these anti-war leftists, the military is exceeding its recruitment expectation." Listen to an MP3 of Limbaugh]
Meanwhile, Media Matters is reporting:
- [O]n August 25, Fox News anchor Donna Fiducia declared that Army recruiting "is on the rebound" and reported a statement by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, that the service expects to exceed its August recruiting goal, as it did in June and July. But Fiducia ignored the rest of Schoomaker's comments, which included a more dour announcement that the Army expects to miss its annual recruitment goal for the fiscal year that ends in September.
An August 26 Washington Post article by staff writer Josh White titled "Army Likely to Meet August's, But Not Year's Goal" reported -- as Fiducia did -- that re-enlistment numbers are up and that the Army expects to meet its recruitment goal for August. But the Post also noted that, in a meeting with reporters, Schoomaker said "he expects the Army to miss its annual goal of 80,000 new active-duty recruits by 'a couple thousand.' " The Post further reported Schoomaker's characterization of the current "recruiting environment" as the most difficult since the Army "became an all-volunteer force." [Watch the Fox broadcast here]
August 26, 2005
"They Can Taser Us, Beat Us, Shower Us With Pepper-spray, and Seize Police Dogs On Us, But They Will Not Stop Us"
The Pittsburgh Organizing Group has announced plans to hold another protest at the Oakland military recruiting station, the scene of last week's demonstration that made national headlines. Last week police arrested at least five protesters and shot Taser stun guns at two people. A 68-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bitten by a police dog. [See CounterRecruiter.net coverage].
Pittsburgh City Councilor Doug Shields and State Senator Jim Ferlo have both called for a investigation into police conduct at last week's protest.
"They can Taser us, beat us, shower us with pepper-spray, and seize police dogs on us, but they will not stop us from protesting the lies about military recruitment and the war in Iraq," said Marie Skoczylas, a POG member. "We are undeterred by last week's unprovoked attack."
Saturday's protest is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. outside the the Oakland military recruiting station.
8/27 Update: Pittsburgh Indymedia reports: Today, Saturday, August 27, the Pittsburgh Organizing Group (POG) held a non-violent picket at Oakland's military recruiting station... By noon, about 100 people lined the sidewalk on Forbes between Atwood St. and Oakland Ave. There was a sizeable presence of police in the vicinity -- including Pittsburgh Police Chief McNally -- but unlike last week, the police did not attack the crowd and the protest ended without incident.
August 25, 2005
The Nation: "Military Recruiters Are Now Targeting Sixth Graders. Who's Next?"
The new issue of The Nation has a cover story on military recruiting by Karen Houppert. Read it here.
August 22, 2005
Puerto Rican Activists Launch Campaign to Protect Students From U.S. Military Recruiters
From the Associated Press:
- A coalition of non-governmental groups launched a new campaign Sunday aimed at stopping high schools in Puerto Rico from giving student information to U.S. military recruiters.
The Citizen Coalition Against Militarism will visit high schools around the U.S. Caribbean territory this week to urge students and parents not to allow schools to release students' names, addresses, phone numbers and other data to military recruiters, the group said in a statement.
"Parents of students ... have the moral responsibility to defend the life and privacy of their children," said the coalition, a mix of anti-war groups, human rights organizations and teachers' unions.
The group plans to distribute forms that students and parents can send to schools asking them to withhold personal data from military recruiters, as allowed under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, the group said.
Last year, nearly half of parents of high school students in Puerto Rico asked schools not to release such information to recruiters.
August 21, 2005
Pittsburgh Police Use Tasers At Counter-Recruiting Demo
Pittsburgh Indymedia has more coverage on the protests including video of the shooting. At least five protesters were arrested and two were hospitalized. One woman was bit by a police dog. A second woman suffered injuries after being shot with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun.
August 15, 2005
2006 Recruitment Looks Rough Too
With 2005 nearing its close, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that 2006 isn't looking too hot for enlistment either.
[The] pool of early recruits signed up for boot camp next year is unusually small. The Army hopes to have banked about 7,200 of these recruits in its delayed entry pool for 2006 -- less than a fourth of the delayed entry enlistees it had signed up for 2004. Next year, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, "may be the toughest recruiting environment ever."
In this recruiting environment, could a draft be coming? The Chron thinks not:
Polls now indicate a majority of Americans are unwilling to encourage their own children to enlist in the military. That represents a drop from one- third just five years ago in a Gallup Poll. Resuscitation of a draft likely would eviscerate the half-hearted support remaining for our involvement in Iraq. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll last month found that only 1 in 4 Americans favors reinstating the draft, while 7 in 10 oppose it. More than half of those polled said they were "strongly opposed."
Members of Congress have an ingrained aversion to political suicide, and thus will keep refusing to drink the Kool-Aid of conscription.
So instead, the military will have to rely on tactics like "raising the upper age limit to sign up -- to age
35 for active duty and 42 for the reserves and Guard" and "pursuing a
mentally ill teen, threatening a wavering prospect with arrest if he reneged,
and suggesting that a prospect doctor up a high-school diploma and taking him
to a head shop to buy a kit to help him pass a drug test."
August 14, 2005
Selling the Parents
As parents have become an increasingly strong defense against military recruiters, the Army has begun to target them directly with a new advertising campaign. The "influencer group" of ads was produced by Chicago-based Leo Burnett USA. Influencers is the term recruiters use for parents, teachers, coaches, and other adults who influence a young person's life decisions, like whether to join the military.
Leo Burnett USA is one of at least six companies that are competing for an advertising contract with the Army that could total a billion dollars over five years.
The ads have been running since April on old-person cable channels, like Hallmark and the Game Show Network. One in Spanish is running on Spanish-language television and in Puerto Rico. The Army recently expanded their circulation and claims they will reach 58 percent of influencers of potential recruits by September. With Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Families for Peace in the news so much these days, the recruiters have a lot to compete with when it comes to reaching parents.
Past CounterRecruiter posts on parents and "influencers":
August 01, 2005: Counterpunch: The Games Recruiters Play
March 23, 2005: 3000 more recruiters on the way
March 20, 2005: Generals Suggest Draft May Be Needed
August 02, 2005
Black Recruits Say No, Bucking Historical Trends
While African-Americans have traditionally made up a significant percentage of the US Armed Forces, the numbers of Black enlistees is on the decline, reports the Dallas Morning News.
In fiscal 2001, which ended 19 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, nearly 23 percent of all new Army recruits were black – as in each of the previous five years. So far in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, only about 14 percent are. That's a decline of nearly 40 percent in the proportion of black recruits – when the Army never needed them more.
And the war in Iraq seems to have a lot to do with the drop in numbers - not just fear of dying in the war, but opposition to the war itself.
"A lot of black kids, they don't want to be in it," said DeTorrian Rhone, 18, a 2005 graduate of Bryan Adams High School in East Dallas. He talked to Army recruiters but decided to go to Texas Southern University instead.
"Most of the kids say they don't want to fight for a country that's pickin' on other countries," he said. "I don't want to fight because this [Iraq] war was stupid, it wasted money. Army people are getting killed for nothing, and we should have stayed in our own business."
But let's not get carried away - African-Americans are still overrepresented in the Army.
Ever since the Army became an all-volunteer force in the 1970s, it has relied on blacks for roughly a quarter of its soldiers, though they constituted less than 15 percent of the population. And for historical and economic reasons, they have answered the call.
And even with the recruiting decline, about 25 percent of Army enlisted personnel are black, the Army reports.
Seattle Proposes New Recruiting Rules
Seattle Public Schools is considering new rules that would significantly limit access for military recruiters on high school campuses. According to the Seattle Times,
The proposed rules mandate that:
• Recruiters be confined to designated areas on campus.
• All military recruiters wear uniforms.
• No private appointments be held between recruiters and students on campus, and no private appointments be held when a student is due in class.
• Schools post recruiting rules and upcoming visits on campus throughout the year.
• Organizations advocating alternative careers to the military be allowed on campus at the same time and in the same location as military recruiters.
• Recruiters first receive written permission to be on campus from the principal or a principal's designee. Recruiters must sign in and out of the school office at each visit and leave clear contact details on any written information left behind.
The proposal follows school-year activism on the part of the Garfield High School's Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), and its co-chairwoman Amy Hagopian. In May, the PTSA adopted a symbolic resolution banning recruiters from campus.
"I applaud the fact that they are looking at this issue, and appreciate the fact they took our field stance seriously enough they examined districtwide policies," [Hagopian] said.
Hagopian added she would have liked the district to go further by outlining its anti-discrimination policy to the military, which does not allow openly gay soldiers.
Kentucky students Opt Out, Minnesotans Fight Back
The Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune reports that the latest recruiting battleground in the midwest are "county fairs, street basketball tournaments and music concerts. Anyplace where they are likely to find those in their target market: 17- to 24-year-olds." But "[recruiters] aren't the only ones talking about a military career."
"Counter-recruiters are out there, too, trying to drum up support for their cause and to give young people the "real" information about what they can expect if they join the military.
In Minnesota, a group known as Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) is circulating a petition aimed at blocking recruiters' access to students through schools. The petition asks state and local education leaders to ensure that every student and parent receives an opt-out form and a clear warning that failure to fill it out this fall will result in recruiters obtaining students' names and contact information. It also asks school leaders to stop allowing the military to use the schools as recruiting grounds.
"The idea is to win people over to our side, so that the recruiters are met with such resistance when they come to the schools that they don't see the point in coming anymore," said Brandon Madsen, 18, a self-described socialist and a recent graduate of Bloomington Kennedy High School.
In addition to the petition drive, Youth Against War is planning a student walk-out this fall to draw attention to the recruiting issue.
And students in Kentucky are also turning down recuiters, according to the Lexington Herald-Reader. Once high school students were informed about their right to protect their personal information from recruiters, "about 4,800 [students] in Jefferson County -- 20 percent of the district's high school students -- have barred recruiters from their directory information." Kentucky lets schools decide how much to publicize the opt-out forms, and some local peace activists want the state to go further, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
"We've shown there's a demand by parents not to have this information sent to kids," said Chris Harmer, a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Aim Higher, which opposes high school recruiting.