Archive for March, 2005

Columbia University and the ROTC

March 31, 2005

On the surface, the issue facing the Columbia University Senate is whether to suspend the University’s non-discrimination policy to facilitate the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. An email calling on Columbia alumni to sign a petition intended to influence the Senate’s vote said,

Although people have different reasons for opposing the return of ROTC, this petition focuses narrowly on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  If reinstated, the ROTC will become a formal Columbia program that is allowed, indeed mandated, to discriminate against gay men, lesbians, and bisexual.

But the deeper conflict is over the relationship between military recruitment and our university’s and  colleges. Unlike the CUNY students who have organized and taken direct action to remove recruiters from their campus, Columbia has barred them and, after a yearlong study, is considering inviting them back.

On April 5, the Columbia Law School Center for the Study of Law & Culture along with Outlaws: the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Students’ Association will host "Guarding the University: A Teach-In on ROTC, JAG, and the Relationship Between the Military and the Academy."  The teach-in – scheduled for Tuesday, April 5th from 5 to 8 p.m. in Jerome Greene Hall, Room 102 – is open to the public and the press.

The University Senate expects to address the issue at its last plenary meeting of this academic year on May 6.


Not Enough Recruits? Blame It On The Rain

March 30, 2005

After failing to meet recruiting goals for two months in a row, the Marines are now scrambling for an answer to explain the shortfall besides the obvious — the two-year-old war in Iraq that has left 1,520 U.S. service members dead.

Well, according to Stars & Stripes, the Marines have found the reason why fewer recruits are signging up: the weather.

Marine Lt. Gen. Jan. C. Huly said a harsh winter kept potential recruits indoors, and thus recruiters from signing them up.

“It’s easy to say it’s the war in Iraq,” said Huly. “But I’m not so sure.”

As Milli Vanilli once sang:

Blame it on the rain that was falling, falling
Blame it on the stars that did shine at night
Whatever you do don’t put the blame on you
Blame it on the rain yeah yeah
You can blame it on the rain
Cos the rain don’t mind
And the rain don’t care
You got to blame it on something

NYPD Rescinds Anti-Free Speech Policy At City Schools

March 30, 2005

According to the New York City Independent Media Center, counter-recruitment activists have won the right to hand out anti-recruitment literature in front of the city’s public schools without fear of arrest.

This is a result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of student activists working with the Ya-Ya Network. In October, 2003 police threatened to arrest a group of Ya-Ya activists for handing out information to students informing them on how to block school officials from giving away personal information on the students to military recruiters.

The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial this month but the NYPD has agreed out of court to rescind the policy that had barred all leafletting, petition-gathering, press conferences, picketing, and other First Amendment activity on public sidewalks in front of schools.

“As the public controversy over military recruiting in schools intensifies, it is particularly important that students have access to facts which are not included in the recruiters’ sales pitch,” said Ya-Ya Network Executive Director Amy Wagner. “So long as recruiters are given free access to students inside of schools, we must have free access to students outside of schools.”

Washington Monthly Calls For The Return of the Draft

March 30, 2005

The Washington Monthly has a major essay titled “The Case for the Draft” in its new issue calling for the return of a military draft and mandating all college-bound students serve the country (not necessarily in a military capacity) for a year before starting college.

The co-authors of the article, Phillip Carter and Paul Glastris, write: “America has a choice. It can be the world’s superpower, or it can maintain the current all-volunteer military, but it probably can’t do both.” (Glastis is the editor in chief of the magazine.)

The authors go on to describe their vision of a 21st century draft:

“Instead of a lottery, the federal government would impose a requirement that no four-year college or university be allowed to accept a student, male or female, unless and until that student had completed a 12-month to two-year term of service. Unlike an old-fashioned draft, this 21st-century service requirement would provide a vital element of personal choice. Students could choose to fulfill their obligations in any of three ways: in national service programs like AmeriCorps (tutoring disadvantaged children), in homeland security assignments (guarding ports), or in the military. Those who chose the latter could serve as military police officers, truck drivers, or other non-combat specialists requiring only modest levels of training. (It should be noted that the Army currently offers two-year enlistments for all of these jobs, as well as for the infantry.) They would be deployed as needed for peacekeeping or nation-building missions. They would serve for 12-months to two years, with modest follow-on reserve obligations. 

“Whichever option they choose, all who serve would receive modest stipends and GI Bill-type college grants. Those who sign up for lengthier and riskier duty, however, would receive higher pay and larger college grants. Most would no doubt pick the less dangerous options. But some would certainly select the military—out of patriotism, a sense of adventure, or to test their mettle. Even if only 10 percent of the one-million young people who annually start at four-year colleges and universities were to choose the military option, the armed forces would receive 100,000 fresh recruits every year. These would be motivated recruits, having chosen the military over other, less demanding forms of service. And because they would all be college-grade and college-bound, they would have—to a greater extent than your average volunteer recruit—the savvy and inclination to pick up foreign languages and other skills that are often the key to effective peacekeeping work. 

“A 21st-century draft like this would create a cascading series of benefits for society. It would instill a new ethic of service in that sector of society, the college-bound, most likely to reap the fruits of American prosperity. It would mobilize an army of young people for vital domestic missions, such as helping a growing population of seniors who want to avoid nursing homes but need help with simple daily tasks like grocery shopping. It would give more of America’s elite an experience of the military. Above all, it would provide the all-important surge capacity now missing from our force structure, insuring that the military would never again lack for manpower. And it would do all this without requiring any American to carry a gun who did not choose to do so.

“If America wishes to retain its mantle of global leadership, it must develop a military force structure capable of persevering under these circumstances. Fortunately, we know how to build such a force. We have done it many times in the past. The question is: Do we have the will to do so again?”

‘Educators To Stop The War’ Tackle Recruiting In the Classroom

March 30, 2005

Lauren Bans of the Nation reports the newly formed Educators to Stop the War met earlier this month in New York. One item on the agenda — military recruiting in the schools.

Bans writes:

“In various ways, the conference’s many workshops took up the same question: What is happening at high schools and campuses nationwide to propel large numbers of youth to join the armed forces? According to many participants, Interest in the military among youth can be traced to Bush’s flawed education policy. In the months following the 9/11 attack, while Bush forged ahead on military proposals, nearly all the domestic issues on the agenda were thrown to the wind, except for one — Bush’s education reform: the No Child Left Behind Act.

“Somehow, a military initiative snuck its way into the education bill. Within the 1,200 pages of NCLB lies a little-known provision that requires public schools not only to allow military recruiters to set up in school but to hand over students’ contact information to recruiters. And while the provision does include an ‘opt out’ clause for students, it is even less publicized than the provision itself. Many students have no idea their information is up for grabs in the first place. Last year, only an estimated 2 percent of students chose to protect their information. One of the major workshops of the conference was dedicated to organizing a more effective campaign against recruitment in schools and to making sure students know they don’t have to disclose their information.

“More fundamentally, the conference explored the reasons young people are so vulnerable to military recruiters on school campuses–that is, the lack of alternative paths available to them after high school… By cutting financial aid for college, Bush’s 2006 budget proposal reinforces the Catch-22 that many high schoolers face.”

Five Soldiers Charged in Abusing Recruits

March 29, 2005

Five U.S. soldiers have been charged with abusing recruits at the Armor School and Center at Fort Knox in Kentucky. Capt. William C. Fulton was charged with dereliction of duty for failing to stop drill sergeants’ alleged abuse of recruits under his command. In addition, he was charged with punching a recruit in the chest.
An estimated 25 recruits were allegedly abused at Fort Knox between Feb. 3 and 8.
Two sergeants first class and two staff sergeants have also been charged and face special courts-martials. They could be sentenced to a year in jail.

National Day of Action to Stop The Draft

March 28, 2005

The International Action Center-based group has called for a national day of action on Thursday, March 31 against the military draft. Protests and events are scheduled in  Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennesee; Santa Rosa, California; Ames, Iowa; Kalamazoo, Michigan; New York City and Voorheesville, New York; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More info

Number of Recruiting Improprieties Doubled Since 2000

March 28, 2005

From Sunday’s New York Times:

“Some recruiters said they witnessed more ‘improprieties,’ which the Army defines as any grossly negligent or intentional act or omission used to enlist unqualified applicants or grant benefits to those who are ineligible. They said recruiters falsified documents and told prospects to lie about medical conditions or police records.

“An analysis of Army records shows that the number of impropriety allegations doubled to 1,023 in 2004 from 490 in 2000. Initial investigations substantiated 459 violations of Army enlistment standards in 2004, up from 186 in 2000. In 135 cases, recruiters – often more than one – were judged to have committed improprieties, up from 113 in 2000. The rest were defined as errors.”

The Times also profiles one recruiter, 27-year-old Sgt. Latrail Hayes, who became disillusioned with his job and the war in Iraq:

“Hayes enlisted in the Army 10 years ago, out of high school in Virginia Beach, continuing a family tradition of military service. He volunteered to be a recruiter in 2000, after 52 jumps as a paratrooper, and at first his easy charm, appeals to patriotism and offers of Army benefits enticed dozens of recruits.

“But Sergeant Hayes said he started rethinking his assignment as the war went on. Mothers required months, not weeks, of persuasion. And stories he heard from some of his recruits who had gone to Iraq and Afghanistan made him reluctant to pursue prospects by emphasizing the Army’s benefits. When his cousin, whom he had recruited, returned from Iraq with psychological trauma, he filed for conscientious objector status in June, to get a new assignment.

“The application was rejected in November. Now, instead of serving 20 years in the Army, he intends to leave in December, when his tour ends. ‘There’s a deep human connection when you try to persuade someone to do something you’ve done,’ he said. ‘So when it turns into something else – maybe even the opposite – it’s difficult.'”

More on Harvey’s Press Conference

March 25, 2005 has a good commentary on the same topic CounterRecruiter posted on yesterday.

Of particular interest are the "challenges to recruitment myths" (see below) and a comment that mentions a "conference
call [for anti-draft groups nationwide]  this evening in order to begin to ‘draft’ our own game plan for an
anti-conscription strategy." Any reports on what came out of that conference call?

Also check out their extensive sets of national and local counterrecruitment links.

–    Despite the stated length of enlistment (usually four years), recruits can be kept in the military indefinitely, or called back from the reserves many years later as is being seen with the current back door draft.

–    Recruiters promise training that will lead to better jobs in civilian life. But several careful studies show that veterans typically earn 12% to 15% less than those workers who do not go into the military.

–    College benefits are a great exaggeration; because of all the small print requirements to receive college benefits only 15 percent ever receive a college degree — only 35% receive GI bill funds for college.  Indeed, the average participant actually receives less money than a student who simply receives a Pell Grant and a Stafford Loan.

On top of those false statements, some truths are often not discussed:

–         Women in the military face a high incidence of harassment and rape.

–         Military life is very hard on families with the incidence of family abuse and violence three to five times higher than in the civilian population.

–         The hazards of military service include more than just getting killed or wounded.  For instance, less than 300 US soldiers were killed in the first Gulf War of 1991. But tens of thousands of Gulf War vets have reported chronic, debilitating physical and psychological disorders since serving in the Gulf.

Finally, the fine print on the back of the enlistment contract makes it clear that no promise by the government made has to be kept.  The Military Enlistment/Reenlistment contract states: "The following statements [in the contract] are not promises or guarantees of any kind. They explain some of the present laws affecting the Armed Forces which I cannot change but which Congress can change at any time."  Indeed, as veterans well know — benefits promised have been repeatedly cut, with more reductions on the way.

3000 more recruiters on the way

March 23, 2005

In his first press conference since becoming the Army’s top civilian leader, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey acknowledged the Army would miss its recruiting goals this month and next and promised "new ideas" to ensure the year-end goal would still be met.

On a trip to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany earlier this week he promised to "pull all the stops out" in his battle to meet recruitment goals. “We’re going to do some out-of-the-box thinking,” Harvey told Stars and Stripes.

In addition to increasing the number of active recruiters from 9,000 to 12,000, he suggested the Army would focus a message of patriotism on the parents of potential recruits.