Archive for June, 2007

Americans trust the military, but recruiters?

June 30, 2007

This article is misleading. A new Gallup poll finds that out of government institutions, Americans, or 69 percent of them, have the most trust for the military. Somehow the story is about how this survey means that citizens are potentially more trustful of military recruiters, based on the words of some Pentagon PR person and the reporter’s interpretation of the survey (which I haven’t read, by the way). I think the reporter, or maybe his editor, wanted to make news out of something that really isn’t.  It’s doubtful that Americans trust military recruiters at the same level as the military at large, given their sagging enlistment numbers, frequent abuses of power, and an unpopular war.

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Weekend humor: Military helps make video game “realistic”

June 30, 2007

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By role-playing as a soldier, gamers try to learn Army values such as teamwork, leadership, rules of engagement, and respect for life and property.” As a former Counter-Strike gamer myself, online first-person shooters are about anything but those values. They’re mindless, twisted, and ego-boosting fun. They’re about racking up as many “kills” as possible. And of course, the idea that these games are realistic, in that they reflect what war is actually like, is laughable and demeaning to the suffering that veterans endure during and after their service. Funny too is the idea that these games, which cost millions to develop, aren’t recruitment tools.

The box for the game says, “Empower Yourself. Defend Freedom.”

From Government Computer News, whatever that is:

War is anything but a solo act, so the Army is reaching out to Microsoft Xbox 360 users with “America’s Army: True Soldiers,” a video game eminently suited to multiplayer use.

The service is teaming up with video game publisher Ubisoft and Red Storm Entertainment for the September launch of the game designed exclusively for the Xbox 360 system.

Through Xbox Live (www. xbox.com), an online Xbox community, users can find other players and form teams or units. The game rewards teamwork and mentoring with honor points.

Users can also play as single soldiers, taking on roles such as rifleman, grenadier or sniper. By role-playing as a soldier, gamers try to learn Army values such as teamwork, leadership, rules of engagement, and respect for life and property.

Launched July 4, 2002, the “America’s Army” game series gives players a virtual test-drive of what it’s like to be a soldier, from basic training through desert battlefields. Releases designed for PCs are available at www. americasarmy.com. Army officials worked hand-in-hand with Red Storm Entertainment to make sure the content was realistic, said Lt. Col. Randy Zeegers, who served as a subject matter expert for the game. “We participate at all levels of the game, including development and testing.”

Hundreds of war games are available from a huge array of game designers, but there’s only one U.S. Army. “We have to be more authentic and realistic than any other game out there,” Zeegers said.

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Army quietly withdraws false advertisement for “pharmacist” career

June 26, 2007

From ABC’s Blotter (also see ABC’s fall 2006 report on recruiter lies):

usarmypullst_mn.jpgThe U.S. Army has quietly pulled a television recruitment ad that falsely claimed it could train recruits to become pharmacists, a spokesperson for the Army has confirmed to ABC News.

The Army took action following a complaint made by David Work, former president of The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, after he spotted the ad during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Listing careers available in the Army, the 30-second spot included images of soldiers working in a pharmacy as a voice-over said, “They can be…pharmacists.”

A pharmacy degree requires the completion of a six-year program at a school of pharmacy, which the Army does not offer.

“They knowingly, intentionally put a lie out there, only to get a teenager to sign up,” said Work. “Any teenager will find a six-figure job attractive.”

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N. Carolina: Marine recruiters say they’ll change after rape allegations

June 26, 2007

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Settling a highly publicized case in which two military recruiters were accused of rape, the U.S. Marine Corps has agreed to pay two young women $200,000 and change its recruiting practices in Northern California.

The assaults allegedly occurred in 2004, when the two women were 17-year-old high school students.

They said the Marine recruiters, then-Sgts. Joseph Dunzweiler and Brian Fukushima, raped them in a Ukiah (Mendocino County) recruiting office. The women had expressed interest in joining the Marines.

Barry Vogel, a Ukiah attorney representing the two women, said one was told she had to have sex if she wanted to join the Marines. The other girl, said Vogel, was so drunk she vomited on herself.

The settlement signed Thursday in San Francisco by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel is a compromise agreement that does not constitute an admission of fault by the defendants.

“But that’s not what this case is really about,” said Vogel. “This is about Marines caught in a situation that they covered up. It’s about getting their recruitment rules changed to protect young women.”

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Army steps up electronic PR in $200 million campaign

June 25, 2007

From PRWatch.org, via Media Mouse:

“Army Strong, as the Army’s latest recruiting campaign is called … has a definite emphasis on electronic communications, from opportunities to chat live on the Web site with soldiers … to interactive sections showing what boot camp is like, the different specialties the Army trains people for, and more,” writes PR Week. Army podcast subjects range from soldiers’ experiences to “the latest results for the Army’s NASCAR team.” The $200 million-per-year campaign is led by McCann-Erickson, along with other Interpublic Group agencies. Army outreach to Hispanic communities is handled by Weber Shandwick, and to African Americans by Carol H. Williams. The Army’s racially-targeted outreach includes Spanish-language ads, “participating in Hispanic- or African-American-focused trade association conventions or job fairs,” and “awarding research contracts to historically black colleges and universities.” Meanwhile, the U.S.-led Multi-National Force-Iraq is seeking a new PR firm, for “rapid reaction information operations support” to encourage Iraqis “to support their fledgling government,” reports O’Dwyer’s PR Daily. The U.S. government is also “reviewing proposals for a multimillion-dollar PR blitz for its electricity sector rebuilding” in Iraq. Both searches are being conducted via non-public websites, as information about the Iraq PR contracts has been deemed “sensitive.”

See a more in-depth examination of Army’s PR efforts in this January article here.

Berkeley: Students upset with school district abiding by NCLB

June 22, 2007

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Their school district was one of the last in the nation to resist giving personal student information to military recruiters, until the Pentagon threatened to have the government withhold federal funding of its schools. The government wants militarized schools over funded ones, apparently, and the students aren’t cool with that.

From the Daily Californian:

Students at Berkeley High School along with an anti-war group held a press conference near the school Monday opposing the war in Iraq and a federal policy requiring student information to be released to military recruiters.

World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime and several students held the press conference on Milvia Street and Allston Way where a petition was circulated against the war and the No Child Left Behind Act.

“We sign this letter to let the Bush regime, and especially the media, know that Berkeley High School will not accept the terms that hold our future away from our hands and disregard our privacy and personal security, and that we will not be used as tools for an unjust and imperialist war,” the letter, which has been signed by 200-250 students, states.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act passed in 2002, schools are required to release student information to military recruiters. Until last month, Berkeley High School had been the last public high school in the country to withhold the information.

However, the Berkeley Unified School District decided to release the information after receiving a letter threatening to withdraw federal funds.

Instead, Berkeley High School has given students the ability to opt out of having their information passed on.

Organizers said the conference was held not just to educate students about the war and the act, but to openly display their resistance.

“The whole ideology behind the press conference was to show the resistance Berkeley High has against the unjust Bush (administration),” said Daniel Sandoval, former Berkeley High student and an organizer for World Can’t Wait. “It’s a show of resistance against the war.”

The press conference was originally to be held in the high school’s courtyard, but was relocated outside of the school as organizers said they were not allowed to hold the conference at the school.

District Spokesperson Mark Coplan said students, teachers and principals alike cannot call press conferences at the school, as only the district can officially call a conference.

Sandoval said the push toward school systems through the No Child Left Behind Act was a step toward increased government control.

“They’re militarizing our school now,” Sandoval said.

Phoenix: Students can opt-out military recruiter access and stay open to college/job recruiters

June 21, 2007

We tried to make this happen here in Austin when we asked for a policy limiting military recruiters. But the district’s legal counsel said that letting students opt-out exclusively from military recruiters would violate the No Child Left Behind Act. Good for them out there in Phoenix.

From the East Valley Tribune:

Kay Grams doesn’t want her 16-year-old daughter’s name going into a military recruitment database.

So last year, when the Tempe mother enrolled her daughter at McClintock High School, she was told she could ask the school to withhold her contact information from a list it gives the armed forces — but with a catch.

“I was told that by selecting that option, her name would also not be included on a list that goes out to colleges, a list for scholarships, even something with the yearbook,” Grams said.

But two weeks ago, the Tempe Union High School District governing board decided to accommodate parents like Grams. It voted unanimously to change a policy and allow teens to just “opt out” of the military contact, but still have their directory information passed on to colleges and universities.

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Ad agency retains Pentagon contract for recruitment marketing

June 21, 2007

From adweek.com:

BOSTON – Mullen said it has successfully defended its status as lead agency on the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Military Advertising, Market Research & Studies account following a review.

The contract is periodically reviewed, per federal guidelines.

The Interpublic Group agency in Wenham, Mass., has worked on the account since 2002. The new contract runs one year, with four renewal options. The total estimated annual contract value is $50 million for agency and subcontractor services, production and paid media expenditures. Estimated annual measured media spending has been $12-15 million in recent years.

The client supports all branches of the U.S. military with communications directed to adults who are influential in helping potential enlistees evaluate career training and options.

The most recent effort from Mullen invited parents to prepare for a conversation about joining the military, presenting the child’s argument from the point of view of the parent. Ads have been mainly print based and stressed the importance of open and honest communication.

“A military career is a serious consideration requiring a great deal of thought, information and dialogue,” said Tom Jump, evp, managing director at Mullen. “Our company recognizes the importance of this subject, and we’re honored to continue to represent the U.S. military.”

Per DOD policy, the other review contenders were not disclosed.

Scotland: Teachers want Army recruiters banned from schools

June 19, 2007

Wow.  From the BBC:

Scotland’s biggest teaching union has voted by a clear majority to call for a ban on the armed forces targeting recruitment campaigns at schools.

The move follows an emotional debate at the EIS annual conference in Perth.

Supporters of the motion claimed the military was tackling a shortage of recruits by targeting impressionable teenagers in deprived areas.

An Army spokesman said they were disappointed and would go into schools when invited by headteachers.

Supporters of the ban claimed the military targeted teenagers with t-shirts, pictures of helicopters and even Christmas cards from the recruiting officers.

Opponents at the conference in Perth said it did not make sense to single out the military when other services such as the fire brigade exposed staff to danger.

An Army spokesman said: “We are obviously disappointed by the way the debate went at the EIS conference.

“We will endeavour to visit school as previously when invited to do so by headteachers.”

Delegates were told that one establishment in Glasgow had 14 visits from army recruiters in the past year, while another experienced a 10-fold rise in the number of army visits during the past 12 months.

The motion was put forward by the EIS’ Edinburgh Local Association.

EIS general secretary Ronnie Smith said afterwards: “There was evidence that they (the armed forces) were concentrating their efforts on some of the poorest and most disproportionate areas.

(more…)

Army fails to meet recruitment goal!

June 18, 2007

Keep in mind this is on top of quotas that have already been drastically reduced.

From the Boston Globe:

The US Army failed to meet its monthly recruitment goal in May for the first time in eight months, the Defense Department announced.

The Army gained 5,101 recruits in May, about 7 percent short of its goal of 5,500, the department said yesterday.

The other three services — the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps — all met their recruiting targets for the month, the Pentagon said.

The last time the Army failed to meet its monthly recruiting goal was September of last year, according to a spokeswoman, Major Anne Edgecomb. The Army remains about 2,000 recruits ahead of its annual goal for 2007, which is 80,000, she said.

“May is historically a difficult time of year” to attract new soldiers, Edgecomb said, with potential recruits distracted by graduations and other end-of-school-year events.

All four services met or exceeded their goals for retention of current active-duty personnel in May, the Pentagon said.

For reserve retention, the Army and Air National Guard missed their targets for May, while the Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force Reserves met or exceeded theirs.

To maintain recruitment and retention during a time of extended combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military has resorted to measures such as higher bonuses and loosened standards.

The Army last year paid $1.09 billion in bonuses, a three fold increase from 2002, according to Army data.

It also increased its maximum age to 42 from 35 and is taking more recruits with lower aptitude test scores or criminal backgrounds.

The Army plans to increase its active-duty ranks by 65,000, or 13.5 percent, over the next five years.