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June 30, 2005

Is the Army Distorting Its Recruiting Numbers?

The morning papers all mention that the Army has exceeded its monthly recruiting goal in June. The headlines proclaim "US Army Ends 4-Month Recruiting Slump in June" and "For First Time in Months, Army Meets Its Recruiting Goal."

According to the Pentagon, the Army signed by 6,157 recruits -- exceeding its "goal" of 5,650 by 507 recruits.

The goal of 5,650, however, seems suspiciously low.

Here's why: The original recruiting goal for May was 8,050. Then, with no public notice, the Army lowered its May goal to just 6,700. (Recruiting was so bad in May the Army still came up 25 percent short of the revised goal.)

Doesn't it seem odd for the Pentagon to drastically lower its monthly recruiting goal again?

If the recruiting goal for June remained at May's revised target of 6,700, the Army would have fallen short about 8 percent short this month; if the recruiting goal for June remained at May's original target of 8,050 the Army would have fallen almost 24 percent short.

Posted by MikeBurke on June 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Rumsfeld Urged To Start 'Do Not Call' List for Military Recruiting

The Leave My Child Alone coalition called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today to establish a National Do Not Call List to safeguard family privacy from unwanted military recruitment. The call comes a week after it was disclosed that the Pentagon has teamed with the private firm BeNOW to form a massive database of high school and college students to target for recruitment purposes.

"Millions applauded when the FCC formed a Do Not Call List for consumers. Now we need the armed forces to create one to protect our children's privacy," says Megan Matson of the Leave My Child Alone coalition. "The Pentagon has no right to pressure our kids to enlist -- that should be a private, family decision."

Posted by MikeBurke on June 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Project YANO Launches New Website

The Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities has just launched its new website. The San Diego-based Project YANO has been working on counter-recruiting for over two decades. The new website features detailed information on:

  • What young people should know before joining the military
  • Non-military choices to consider
  • Organizing to demilitarize our schools

Posted by MikeBurke on June 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Army Nearly Doubles Recruiting Campaign Budget

From PR Week (sorry, no link):

    The US Army has poured an additional $500 million into a recruitment campaign designed to build its ranks -- raising the total value of the program to $1.3 billion. The RFP [Request for Proposal] was amended less than a week after the Pentagon announced that the Army had failed to reach its May recruitment goals...

    The Army is now turning to a full-service firm to help reverse the persistent shortfalls. The Army's outstanding RFP calls for a single marketing communications agency to oversee all advertising, media relations, internet campaigns, event marketing, and other promotional activities.

Posted by MikeBurke on June 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Senators Call on Rumsfeld to Abandon Recruiting Database

CounterRecruiter.net has learned that seven Democratic senators have called on the Pentagon to stop using a massive database to target potential recruits. Last week it was revealed that the Pentagon had hired the private marketing firm BeNOW to run the database that keeps track of millions of high school and college students.

Signing the letter were Senators John Corzine (D-NJ), Hillary R. Clinton (D-NY), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The letter reads:

    Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:

    We are writing in response to recent reports that the Pentagon has retained a private marketing firm to gather and to analyze extensive personal information from high school students between the ages of 16 and 18 for the purpose of identifying potential military recruits. We ask that you immediately cease these efforts.

    We are particularly troubled by the fact that you plan to rely on commercial data and have hired a private marketing firm to assist with the collection and analysis of this sensitive information. As you know, this private company is being given the responsibility to collect, and to disseminate to the Pentagon, personal information of students such as birth dates, social security numbers, ethnicity, grade-point averages, address and telephone information, and areas of study. This personal information, which would be obtained from schools as well as from commercial data brokers, state drivers’ license records, and other sources, could then be used to formulate and execute a targeted “marketing” campaign to identify and recruit individuals based on these personal factors.

    We recognize the need for a strong military and support the efforts undertaken by the Pentagon to recruit individuals to serve in our Armed Forces. However, we can not condone the hiring of a private company to collect and disseminate the most private information about our youth. We are concerned both with the potential violation of privacy interests and with the potential for identity theft and other misuses of this personal information. We fail to see a legitimate need for the creation of a database containing such personal information and are concerned that it may be an inappropriate effort to profile students based on ethnicity and other personal factors. We are certain that you share this concern and are not in favor of a private marketing campaign conducted on behalf of the military that could improperly use personal information to do just that.

    Again, we ask that you immediately cease the creation of this database and stop this private company from collecting and disseminating students’ personal information. We also ask that you immediately post, on the Department of Defense website, a standard “opt out” letter that students may execute to stop military recruiters from using their personal information to contact them at home. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

More coverage from CounterRecruiter.net on the Pentagon's recruiting database

Posted by MikeBurke on June 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Drill Sergeants Convicted of Beating & Kicking New Recruits

From the Associated Press:

    The recruits of Echo Company stumbled off the bus for basic training at Fort Knox to the screams of red-faced drill instructors. That much was expected. But it got worse from there.

    Echo Company's top drill instructor seized a recruit by the back of the neck and threw him to the ground. Other soldiers were poked, grabbed or cursed.

    Once inside the barracks, Pvt. Jason Steenberger says, he was struck in the chest by the top D.I. and kicked "like a football." Andrew Soper, who has since left the Army, says he was slapped and punched in the chest by another drill instructor. Pvt. Adam Roster says he was hit in the back and slammed into a wall locker.

    Eventually, four Army drill instructors and the company commander would be brought up on charges. Four have been convicted so far...

    Harvey Perrit, a spokesman for the Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Monroe, Va., said there 120 allegations of abuse against Army drill sergeants in fiscal year 2004, and as a result 16 drill sergeants were relieved of duty.

Posted by MikeBurke on June 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 26, 2005

Army National Guard Teams With Temp Firm Labor Ready

The Seattle Times is reporting the Army National Guard has teamed up with the temp firm Labor Ready to help track down more recruits:

    Faced with nationwide recruitment challenges, the Army National Guard has partnered with Labor Ready, a provider of temporary jobs for unskilled workers, in the hopes the Tacoma-based company's 700 branches across the nation can help boost the dwindling number of recruits.

    Dressed in Army fatigues yesterday afternoon, Sgt. Nicholas Grossenbacher of the Washington Army National Guard was at the Renton branch of Labor Ready explaining the GI Bill and the National Guard's time commitment of "two days a month, two weeks a year" to a small group. He said he hopes to visit the branch at least once a month.

    In return for such recruitment stops, Labor Ready hopes to do some recruiting of its own by targeting National Guardsmen and spouses seeking temporary work while they await deployment, or have just returned from duty...

    But others object to the partnership. Todd Boyle, founder of Washington Truth in Recruiting, said it's an example of an "economic draft."

    "Many people are vulnerable and need jobs and have no choice but to go into the military," Boyle said.

Posted by MikeBurke on June 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

Pentagon: 12 Million Names Already In Recruiting Database

The Washington Post is reporting today that the Pentagon's new student database already includes 12 million names. The Pentagon has also begun to defend the controversial program:

    David S. C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said the Pentagon's contract with a private marketing firm was simply an attempt to obtain the most accurate list possible of contact information for high school students ages 16 to 18 as well as all college students... "This is not targeting" by using personal profiles, Chu said, adding that the military has purchased data from commercial data vendors for some time. Chu said he did not know why a firm that specializes in targeted marketing was hired for the task. He said that decision was made by another Pentagon contractor, Mullen Advertising Inc., which works on military ad campaigns.
While Chu is claiming the database will not be used for "targeting" potential recruits, others in the Pentagon have explicitly said it would do just that. Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke told the Associated Press, "The program is very important because it helps the recruiters be more effective to target qualified candidates for specific missions."

Posted by MikeBurke on June 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

Will Military Recruiters Begin Tracking Your CD & DVD Purchases?

The Pentagon has teamed up with a little-known marketing firm named BeNOW to create a massive new database to help military recruiters target potential recruits.

According to government records the database covers all high school students 16 years or older; current college students; anyone who has responded to recruiting ads since 1992; current military personnel and anyone in the process of enlisting.

The database includes an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Civil Liberties have both slammed the proposal as a violation of the Privacy Act. (The ACLU described the database as "another example of the government's rampant and unregulated collection and use of our personal information.")

But little has been written about the private firm BeNOW that will be overseeing this massive database containing personal information about tens of millions of young people.

According to the BeNOW website, the Wakefield, Massachusetts-based company works on database marketing plans with Tower Records, Saab and MetLife. A look at the company's work with Tower Records may provide a clearer idea of how the Pentagon will use this new database to help market the military to young people.

Earlier this year Tower issued a press release touting its new relationship with BeNOW titled "Tower Records Tunes Into Customers With BeNOW":

    Working with BeNOW, Tower Records will gather and consolidate customer information into a multi-channel marketing database that will allow more targeted communications and build customer relationships as part of its commitment to strengthening its image as a customer-centric company.

    BeNOW`s MVP technology solution will deliver a single customer view using Tower stores and online data sources, increasing customer value while enlarging the company`s customer database.

    Tower Records can then more easily tailor its direct marketing efforts, supported by advanced reporting, analytics and execution applications, and based on refined customer profiles as determined through BeNOW`s technology.

The BeNOW's ties to Tower Records also raises questions over whether the Pentagon would tap into these "customer profiles" created by BeNOW for Tower to get a better picture of potential recruits.

Will the database include info on your recent CD and DVD purchases?

And what other commercial databases will be used? (The Washington Post reported this morning "Under the new system, additional data will be collected from commercial data brokers, state drivers' license records and other sources, including information already held by the military.")

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has criticized the Pentagon for its planned use of commercial vendors for data on potential recruits.

"The DOD should not obtain personal information from commercial vendors when the same data can be obtained from data subjects through surveys or interactions with recruiter," the group warns. "Commercial sellers of personal information are major threats to personal privacy, they maintain inaccurate databases, and as recent events make clear, they sometimes sell personal information to criminals.  The DOD should not be in the business of enriching these companies while significant attention is being focused on them by state attorneys general, the Federal Trade Commission, and the media."

Posted by MikeBurke on June 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Privacy Watchdogs Calls on Pentagon To Scrap New Recruiting Database

A coalition of privacy advocacy groups have called for the Pentagon to scrap its new database to track potential recruits as young as 16. The database is being run by the Pentagon's Joint Advertising, Market Research and Studies and the Massachusetts-based marketing firm BeNow and will include an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.

Groups opposing the database include the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Consumer Action, Privacy Activism, Commercial Alert, Privacy Journal, World Privacy Forum, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Junkbusters.

In a joint statement the groups write:

    We support the U.S. Armed Forces, and understand that DOD faces serious challenges in recruiting for the military.  But we strongly object to the creation of this Joint Advertising database.  The collection of this information is not consistent with the Privacy Act, which was passed by Congress to reduce the government's collection of personal information on Americans.  The collection of individuals' Social Security Numbers presents risks to privacy, and is unnecessary for operation of the database. The "routine uses" for disclosure of information in the database is unjustified.  The DOD proposes to ignore the law and its own regulations by collecting personal information from commercial data brokers and state registries rather than directly from individuals.

    This database represents an unprecedented foray of the government into direct marketing techniques previously only performed by the private sector.  These techniques simply are not compatible with the Privacy Act, as direct marketing tactics increasingly call for massive amounts of personal information.  And while numerous laws protect individuals from commercial direct marketing techniques, these protections only apply in commercial transactions, leaving individuals with little recourse against harassing or unwanted junk mail, telemarketing, and spam from the government.

    This database is a bad idea.  The DOD should scrap its proposal to create this mega database of young Americans and rely upon traditional mass-media advertising to reach potential recruits.

Posted by MikeBurke on June 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack