Since the end of the draft in 1973, the U.S. has relied on an all-volunteer service to maintain its 1.3 million-member global police force. Over the years the military has used a number of different recruitment methods, but the target audience has always been the same: high schoolers. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 significantly changed how military recruiters reach teenagers. Section 9528 mandates public high schools give military recruiters the same access to students that college recruiters get, including their personal contact information. Schools became gold mines for recruiting “future soldiers.” Recruiters at my high school in Fairfax County, Virginia always set up shop in the cafeteria. For the next two hours, they would sit through the four different lunch periods and give their spiel to whoever was curious enough to stop at their station.
WRI's new booklet, Countering Military Recruitment: Learning the lessons of counter-recruitment campaigns internationally, is out now. The booklet includes examples of campaigning against youth militarisation across different countries with the contribution of grassroots activists. From ad-busting to nonviolence training, to promoting peace education and others, the contributions in the booklet provide many ideas for different tactics to counter the recruitment of young people. They also suggest that methods for resisting recruitment necessarily vary across different contexts.
The U.S. Army wants a 500,000 active-duty force by the end of this next decade, about 25,000 more than today. And preying on low income high schoolers is apparently how they intend to do it. This past month the Army announced that they have already surpassed their recruitment goals for 2019–with three months still to go. That a big change from recent years’ where unsuccessful recruiting outcomes have been the norm. So what changed? Recruiters are no longer using patriotism as their main marketing strategy. And wars in the Middle East are not on the talking points either.
By Pat Elder for Popular Resistance. The Pentagon is attempting to recruit somewhere around 227,000 troops this year, and they’re having one hell of a time finding them, even while they enjoy unprecedented physical access to kids in our high schools and equally unprecedented exposure to their minds through popular culture. In 2010 there were 30.7 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 24. 227,000 works out to .73% of prime recruiting age. The revolution we engender must course through the schools. We can no longer afford to cede our neighborhood schools to the corporatists and the militarists. Wars start in our high schools, and this is where we can help to put an end to them. Wars start in our high schools, and this is where we can help to put an end to them.
By Pat Elder for World Beyond War - Countering military recruitment in the nation’s high schools confronts an ugly mix of a distinctively American brand of institutionalized violence, racism, militarism, nationalism, classism, and sexism. It confronts the greatest problems in American society. I will spend a few minutes on the despicable public policy involving tens of thousands of American government employees both in and out of active duty, whose job it is to persuade high school kids to enlist in the Armed Services. It is an extraordinarily deceptive and reprehensible psychological pursuit.
By Pat Elder for World Beyond War - Data released by the Department of Defense on August 1st shows the military administered its 3-hour enlistment exam to nearly 700,000 students in 12,000 high schools during the 2013-14 school year, a 2% increase over the prior year. The Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM) administers the exam, known as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, (ASVAB). The database was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
By David Swanson for Let's Try Democracy - U.S. military recruiters are teaching in public school classrooms, making presentations at school career days, coordinating with JROTC units in high schools and middle schools, volunteering as sports coaches and tutors and lunch buddies in high, middle, and elementary schools, showing up in humvees with $9,000 stereos, bringing fifth-graders to military bases for hands-on science instruction, and generally pursuing what they call "total market penetration" and "school ownership."
By Sarah Grey for Truthout - When he got home from Iraq, Hart Viges began sorting through his boyhood toys, looking for some he could pass on to his new baby nephew. He found a stash of G.I. Joes - his old favorites - and the memories came flooding back. "I thought about giving them to him," he said. But the pressures of a year in a war zone had strengthened Viges' Christian faith, and he told the Army that "if I loved my enemy I couldn't see killing them, for any reason."
By Glen Milner of Global Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Seattle, WA - Local activists will stage a water-based nonviolent protest against the glorification of weapons of war at the Seattle Seafair festival. Peace activists will meet the U.S. Navy fleet in Elliott Bay. Other peace activists will meet on land on Pier 62/63 on the Seattle waterfront at the same time for a nonviolent demonstration against weapons of war. For the fourteenth year, peace activists will address the public display of warships and warplanes in our community. Why would we demonstrate for peace at a Seattle maritime festival? Because the celebration of warships in our harbor helps bring about the normalcy of modern war.
After he turned 18 in November 2013, Arab Palestinian Druze musician Omar Sa’ad, who is an Israeli citizen, from Maghar in the Galilee, was called-up for conscription for 4 December 2013 - he declared publicly his “refus[al] to take an assault rifle and point it at another human being.” Omar Sa’ad, like a growing number of Druze Palestinian citizens of Israel, does not want to be a part of the Israeli army because – in his words - “the Israeli government is responsible for the occupation [of the Palestinian Territories]. As an Arab Druze I consider myself part of the Palestinian people - so how can I be part of the army that occupies my people? I won’t sell all my beliefs and my identity to anyone.” The right to reject military service on grounds of conscientious objection is protected under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Israel has ratified. Since December 2013, Omar Sa’ad has been in and out of prison, where he has spent 149 days, generally serving sentences of between 14 and 20 days at a time before being released and called up to serve the next day. Most recently, on April 13 he began, a seventh prison sentence of 40 days. At the beginning of May, he was denied medical attention by the military prison authorities for three days despite the seriousness of his condition, which apparently relates to a virus affecting his liver.
The ASVAB is the entrance exam themilitary gives to recruits to determine their aptitude for various occupations. The testalso is used as a recruiting tool in 11,700high schools across the country. The ASVAB is the most important component of the Pentagon's school-recruiting program because it provides information on the cognitive abilities of students, something the Department of Defense cannot purchase or find online. Participation in the ASVAB-CEP allows high schools to take advantage of the career exploration component of the testing regime while prohibiting the release of ASVAB results for recruiting purposes. ASVAB results include three hours of test data, sensitive personal demographic information on children and Social Security numbers. There are no privacy protections built into the Missouri School Improvement Program. ASVAB results are the only student information leaving Missouri's schools without providing for parental consent.
In Minnesota, new legislation radically changes graduation testing requirements, allowing high school students who fail mandated exit exams to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) as an alternative assessment. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, students simply have to take the ASVAB or one of two other exams to earn a diploma once minimal course requirements are met. There is no specific score required. Of the three tests, the ASVAB is the only one that is free. Pelican Rapids High School in rural Otter Tail County, Minnesota, requires all juniors and seniors who haven't passed required graduation tests to take the ASVAB. Military data show that test information at Pelican Rapids is sent to military recruiters without obtaining parental consent.