Need Another Reason NOT to Join the Military?
With reports that GIs in Iraq are increasingly becoming the targets of insurgents’ bombs, it’s no wonder that it’s getting harder for recruiters to entice young people to enlist in a military that’s desperately mired in the mistakes of the Bush Administration’s failed foreign policies. But if the quagmire in Iraq and growing threats of war with Iran weren’t enough to deter young people from joining the ranks, a host of appalling recent reports just add more strength to the already thriving movement to counter the military’s recruitment of youth.
First, a Washington Post article last week highlighted the Government Accountability Office’s report on recruiter irregularities, showing that recruitment fraud, abuse, intimidation and other shady tactics are on the rise. The report noted that “available service data show that between fiscal years 2004 and 2005, allegations and service-identified incidents of recruiter wrongdoing increased, collectively, from 4,400 cases to 6,600 cases; substantiated cases increased from just over 400 to almost 630 cases; and criminal violations more than doubled from just over 30 to almost 70 cases.”
Not only is recruiting for the “war on terror” getting to be so tough that recruiters have to break the law just to meet their quotas, but the Pentagon has also had to extend or relax several requirements for new enlistees. With youth increasingly resisting enlistment, the military has even had to up their age limits to meet their quotas, meaning now more grandmas are going off to war. Many of these older Americans enlisting under the relaxed requirement have reportedly been enticed to join by promises of accessing long-postponed educational opportunities and financial resources that seemed otherwise out of reach, highlighting the reality of the “poverty draft” in an economy that’s posing difficulties for Americans of all ages.
And further evidence of the “backdoor draft” emerged yesterday, with the announcement that the Marines are now recalling thousands of troops on an involuntary basis for deployment back to Iraq and Afghanistan – more proof that, with no way out even after their terms are up, too many new recruits will not be getting what they thought they signed up for.
But then, young people being sold the “be all you can be” salespitch probably don’t think that means they’ll be enlisting alongside racist extremists and neo-nazis either – but reports out this summer show the soldier shortage is leading recruiters to look the other way when faced with prospective troops who are joining up specifically to train for “race wars.”
And if the possibility of facing involuntary redeployment, extremist racism and illegal coercion from recruiters weren’t enough reasons not to join, an Associated Press investigation released over the weekend highlighted the risks of violent sexism that female recruits face. AP reports that over 100 women trying to enlist were sexually assaulted by military recruiters in the past year, including many cases involving the rape of minors.
All of these alarming reports point to the desperation recruiters are facing, as they struggle to enlist enough foot soldiers for Bush’s disastrous wars. They also remind us of the many insidious ways in which recruiters, under pressure to meet their quotas, will be once again infiltrating schools this fall. As U.S. youth head back to classes, we in the peace movement must continue to organize to end the military’s occupation of our schools.
To this end, the Student Peace Action Network will continue its Counter-Recruitment work this fall, with the launch of new organizing resources for the new school year. To get involved, email SPAN@Peace-Action.org!
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