WASHINGTON, D.C. (FinalCall.com) – On the streets of the nation’s capital, ask any young Black man about joining the military to “be all that he can be” and the answers seem to be the same, “Hell no, we won’t go.”
“Go where?” said James McAllister. “You must be kidding, the military and go to Iraq? I rather take my chances in D.C. You couldn’t pay me to go over there.”
That sentiment seems to be reflected in growing numbers of Blacks who used to make up significant numbers of military recruits. The Associated Press (AP) obtained information that shows the decline in Blacks covers all four military services for active duty recruits. The drop is even more dramatic when National Guard and Reserve recruiting is included.
The findings, according to AP, reflect the growing unpopularity of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, particularly among family members and other adults who exert influence over high school and college students considering the military to further their education or build a career.
“The number of Blacks joining the military has plunged by more than one-third since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars began,” wrote Lolita C. Baldor for AP, June 25. But, she added, “The decline in Black recruits overall has been offset partly by an increase in Hispanic recruits and those who classify themselves as other races or nationalities.”
Melissa Harris, a mother of three sons, explained to The Final Call, “I told both of my sons that the army was not for them. The war is the real weapon of mass destruction. Look how many people have died on both sides because of a lie. Now, the Iraqi people are wishing they had Saddam Hussein back because life was better. It’s just a mess and I don’t want my sons dying for nothing.”
Military not surprised
According to AP, the news of the Black recruit decline came as no surprise to the Pentagon. At the Defense Department, efforts are under way to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps so the country can better wage what the military believes will be a long battle against terrorism.
Could this effort to increase the size of the military include reinstating the draft?
“The global war on terror has taken its toll, no question,” said Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon’s director of accession policy, in an Associated Press interview.
Marine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway agreed that the bloodshed in Iraq—where more than 3,540 U.S. troops have died—is the biggest deterrent for prospective recruits, explained AP.
“The daily death toll that comes out is, I think, causing people who are the influencers of young men and women in America to take a second look,” he said. “So I think that’s probably the single most dominant feature.”
What has contributed to the public awareness and unpopularity of the war has been the constant voice of warning and guidance given by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan since September 16, 2001 right after 9/11.
He has crisscrossed America, speaking to tens of thousands at a time giving them the same message about the foundation of lies and deceit that President Bush created to bomb Afghanistan and invade Iraq.
“There are 30 wars and armed conflicts going on in the world today, with more money being spent throughout the world on war than on education, with the United States leading the way—the U.S. spends more than $400 billion per year on military expenditures, but only $60 billion per year in this country on education,” Minister Farrakhan said in Detroit, February 25, at the Saviours’ Day convention.
“I’m telling you Brother and Sister, it would be the worst mistake that you made, joining the U.S. military today, because you’ll leave America in one way, and you’ll come back in another way. I’m warning you. Don’t join this [armed forces]. This [America] is going down. And if you join America’s armed forces, you’ll go down with it. God is angry.” he warned.
That message seems to be reaching the Black community.
The data AP collected showed that there were nearly 51,500 new Black recruits for active duty and reserves in 2001 and that number fell to less than 32,000 in 2006, a 38 percent decline.
“The decline is particularly stark for the Army. Blacks represented about 23 percent of the active Army’s enlisted recruits in 2000, but 12.4 percent in 2006,” Sgt. Terry Wright, an Army recruiter in Tampa, Fla. told AP.
He explained that young people in the Black community have more education and job opportunities now than when he joined the service 14 years ago.
Latino Recruits on the rise
While Black military recruits are on the decline, Latino recruits are on the rise according to data obtained by AP. Journal-isms, an online summary of news events, explained that many are pointing the finger at the media for the rise in Latino recruits.
Broadcasters and print outlets in conjunction with the military are playing a role in the increase in Latino recruits explained Roberto Lovato, who often writes for the alternative, ethnic-oriented New American Media.
If one reads Latino-oriented magazines, Mr. Lovato asserted, “They’re basically cheerleaders for the Pentagon.” He said the Defense Department is spending millions in advertising to reach their readers.
But where are the voices in the Latino community protesting the war?
Mr. Lovato told Journal-isms, “Young Black Americans are the most progressive voters in the United States. Blacks are not going to buy it anymore,” speaking of the war. “Latinos haven’t been paid as much attention to. So you go for the next poor community you can find.”
According to Mr. Lovato, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration Larry Korb stated, “A decrease in Latino enlistment numbers would make things very difficult for the armed forces, because they are the fastest-growing [minority] group in the country and they have a very distinguished record of service in the military.”
On April 8, at Mosque Maryam, Minister Farrakhan gave further cautionary guidance to those who may be considering military service. “You’re in the Army because you didn’t want to sell drugs, you didn’t want to get involved in criminal activity and the recruiters are all in the poor neighborhoods.
“America’s not offering you any job, but they want you in the Armed Forces. They know they’re going to fight many more wars. To mothers, who have reared your sons and your daughters, suffering, scuffling for the little bit of money you can scrape, to give your children a decent life, then you send them away to Iraq and Afghanistan and they come back broken, mentally destroyed.
“They’re trained to kill and then are brought home with that same training in their heads. Women are taken away from their babies and sent to war. This is criminal. Then when you come home, the Veterans’ Administrations are not treating you as they should.”
Analysis: Recruitment of African-Americans down, Latinos up