Editor’s Note: The following is excerpted from Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World published by Seven Stories Press, August 2007. Reprinted here by permission of publisher. Copyright © 2007 Aimee Allison and David Solnit
Top military recruitment facts
1. Recruiters lie. According the New York Times, nearly one of five United States Army recruiters was under investigation in 2004 for offenses varying from “threats and coercion to false promises that applicants would not be sent to Iraq.” One veteran recruiter told a reporter for the Albany Times Union, “I’ve been recruiting for years, and I don’t know one recruiter who wasn’t dishonest about it. I did it myself.”
2. The military contract guarantees nothing. The Department of Defense’s own enlistment/re-enlistment document states, “Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me. Such changes may affect my status, pay allowances, benefits and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment/re-enlistment document” (DD Form4/1, 1998, Sec.9.5b).
3. Advertised signing bonuses are bogus. Bonuses are often thought of as gifts, but they’re not. They’re like loans: If an enlistee leaves the military before his or her agreed term of service, he or she will be forced to repay the bonus. Besides, Army data shows that the top bonus of $20,000 was given to only 6 percent of the 47,7272 enlistees who signed up for active duty.
4. The military won’t make you financially secure. Military members are no strangers to financial strain: 48 percent report having financial difficulty, approximately 33 percent of homeless men in the United States are veterans, and nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.
5. Money for college ($71,424 in the bank?). If you expect the military to pay for college, better read the fine print. Among recruits who sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill, 65 percent receive no money for college, and only 15 percent ever receive a college degree. The maximum Montgomery GI Bill benefit is $37,224, and even this 37K is hard to get: To join, you must first put in a nonrefundable $1,200 deposit that has to be paid to the military during the first year of service. To receive the $37K, you must also be an active-duty member who has completed at least a three-year service agreement and is attending a four-year college full time. Benefits are significantly lower if you are going to school part-time or attending a two-year college. If you receive a less than honorable discharge (as one in four do), leave the military early (as one in three do), or later decide not to go to college, the military will keep your deposit and give you nothing. Note: The $71,424 advertised by the Army and $86,000 by the Navy includes benefits from the Amy or Navy College Fund, respectively. Fewer than 10 percent of all recruits earn money from the Army College Fund, which is specifically designed to lure recruits into hard-to-fill positions.
Archive for the ‘Recruiter Misogyny/Racism/Homophobia’ Category
FALLON, Nev. (AP) – A former U.S. Army recruiter in Fallon was found not guilty of charges he produced pornography using two female minors interested in joining the military.
A district court jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours Thursday before clearing Richard Asher of one count of using a minor as a subject in producing pornography and one count of preparing, advertising or distributing pornography involving a minor.
The charges stemmed from a relationship Asher, 34, developed with two 17-year-old high school girls while he worked as an Army recruiter in Fallon in 2004.
In a written statement prepared for the Army’s investigation, Asher admitted to having sex with the girls and taking photos.
But defense attorney Kevin Karp told the jury that the girls sought out Asher and the sexual relationships were consensual. The girls often stopped by the recruiting office and left notes for Asher, he said.
“They said they pursued Sgt. Asher. Finally, he gave in and he had sex with them. It was their idea to have sex,” Karp said.
“It’s pretty obvious it was a victimless crime. I think the statute was designed to protect children, not 17-year-old nymphomaniacs, actually a term (one girl) used in her testimony. I don’t think the statute was designed to protect women like this,” he added.
While the Army determined Asher did not commit a crime, it immediately removed him from his recruiter position and banned him from the high school. He also was reduced in rank and fined.
Karp said Asher last year married one of the girls, who now is 20. She’s expecting the couple’s first child next month.
Churchill County Deputy District Attorney Ben Shawcroft accused Asher of committing a crime by meeting with the girls and taking photos of sexual acts.
“The facts are he was recruiting for the Army, he came to Fallon, he had two girls come to him, he rented the hotel room and he brought the camera,” Shawcroft said.
After Asher photographed the girls, he prepared a photo CD for each of them. Law enforcement authorities learned of the case after one girl’s mother found the CD in her room.
Asher, who lived in Dayton when he was arrested in May, has served in Iraq, Bosnia and Operation Desert Storm.
Jury foreman Daniel Koch said the jury was split at first.
“In the end, given the facts and all the circumstances of the case, the jury came to the consensus that was the most just decision,” Koch told the Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle Standard newspaper.
An open letter to Latino and Latina students and all leaders of immigrant rights organizations fromfounder/director of the Guerrero Azteca Peace Project.
In the wake of the failed immigration reform, passionate discussions have arisen among various organizations both for and against the DREAM Act.
It gives me great joy to see students taking nonviolent action to find a solution to the immigration question. Many of them came to the United States as children and have finished their high school education. Now, because they lack legal documents, they face an uncertain future that may deny them the opportunity to attend college or find a decent job. The DREAM Act offers them a light at the end of an otherwise dark and uncertain road.
I see students on fasts, in marches, lobbying elected officials, all in the name of the DREAM Act’s passage. But beware. Be very careful. Because our honorable youth with their dreams and wishes to serve their new country are being tricked and manipulated in an immoral and criminal way.
Why do I say this? Simply put, the DREAM Act proposes two years of college as a pathway to permanent residency, but it also includes a second option linked to the so-called war on terror — “two years of military service.” Our young people may not see that this is a covert draft in which thousands of youth from Latino families will be sent to Iraq or some other war-torn nation, where they will have to surrender their moral values and become war criminals or perhaps return home in black bags on their way to a tomb drenched with their parents’ tears.
How many of our youth can afford college? How many will be able to take the educational option? Unfortunately very few, because the existing system locks out the children of working families with high tuition and inflated admissions criteria. Most will be forced to take the military option to get their green card. But what good is a green card to a dead person? What good is a green card to a young person severely wounded in mind and body?
I ask our undocumented youth to read the following passages regarding the plans of the Pentagon and the Bush administration:
In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 10, 2006, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu said: “According to an April 2006 study from the National Immigration Law Center, there are an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from high school each year, many of whom are bright, energetic and potentially interested in military service. … Provisions of S 2611, such as the DREAM Act, would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United States in uniform.”
More recently, Lt. Col. Margaret Stock of the U.S. Army Reserve, a faculty member at West Point, told a reporter that the DREAM Act could help recruiters meet their goals by providing a “highly qualified cohort of young people” without the unknown personal details that would accompany foreign recruits. “They are already going to come vetted by Homeland Security. They will already have graduated from high school,” she said. “They are prime candidates.” (Citations from research by Prof. Jorge Mariscal, UC San Diego.)
As you can see, our undocumented youth are being targeted by military recruiters. And equally important is something that few people have mentioned — there is no such thing as a two-year military contract. Every enlistment is a total of eight years.
Given these facts, I invite all young people who are filled with hope and dreams and energy to fight for human rights and for a fair pathway to legalization. But they must also demand that the military option of the DREAM Act be replaced by a community service option (as appeared in earlier drafts of the legislation) so that community service or college become the two pathways to permanent residency. Only then will they avoid becoming victimized by a criminal war as my son Jesús Alberto did when he died on March 27, 2003, after stepping on an illegal U.S. cluster bomb. Through education or community service our undocumented youth can contribute to their communities, and their future will be filled with peace and justice.
Fucking crazy. This is what happens systematic sexism and racism (not to mention homophobia) converge in an insular institution like the military.
FATETTEVILLE, NC — When Airman First Class Cassandra Hernandez enlisted in the Air Force two years ago, she says she was carrying on a family tradition.
“I just felt like I was able bodied, I just wanted to be part of something bigger than myself,” said Hernandez
But during a party on base last summer, she says that hope for tradition and pride was nearly destroyed by three fellow airmen.
“Later on that night I was just gang raped by those three men, ” she said.
The Air Force Security Forces launched an inquiry, and three airmen were formally charged with rape.
But then late last year, an attorney representing one of the accused, set up a series of interviews with Hernandez.
Her on-base victim’s advocate was not allowed to sit in on the interviews.
“It was very uncomfortable, it felt like I was being interrogated,” Hernandez said.
Following that interview, Hernandez decided not to testify against her alleged attackers.
“We did an investigation and it did not support going to trial,” said Pope Air Force Base Spokesman Ed Drohan, “But it did support taking administrative actions against everyone involved.”
The rape charges were dropped against the three Airmen who were accused and they were given small fines and a reduction in rank.
But they have now been granted letters of immunity so that they can testify against Hernandez.
Hernandez’ two Air Force attorneys say this is an unprecedented case.
“The idea of taking that and then turning it around and granting that individual immunity to testify against the victim, it’s un-immaginable,” said Captain Omar Ashmawy “It was unimanginable to me until I took this case.”
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.”
It’s unfortunate when activists, like the think tank analyst in this press release, include pro-war and militaristic rhetoric in their arguments against ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ instead of specifically calling out the military for endorsing discrimination and homophobia as a matter of policy. This organization presumably would not be sympathetic to the counter-recruiting movement. But the news seems like a positive development.
Five new lawmakers, including the highest ranking military veteran in Congress, have joined 126 other lawmakers in supporting legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel. Representatives Michael A. Arcuri (D-NY), Brian Baird (D-WA), Adam Schiff (D- CA), Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) all became co-sponsors of The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246) on Friday, bringing the total number of supporters to 131. Sestak is Congress’s highest-ranking veteran, having served 31 years in the United States Navy and retiring as a 3-star Admiral.
“Congress is steadily moving toward lifting the ban and welcoming lesbian and gay Americans who want to serve our country,” said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). “Americans overwhelmingly support repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and value the contributions that gay troops bring to our armed forces. When it comes to capturing terrorists, deciphering intelligence and protecting our nation, sexual orientation is irrelevant. It is talent and skill that is paramount to our success at home and abroad.”
Jason Leopold published at Truthout last Friday a look at how the military deals with Christian evangelists within its ranks who break military rules, in sharp contrast to harsh and punitive way conscientious and political objectors to war like Cpl. Adam Kokesh are prosecuted for speaking out and resisting war. Military recruiters, of course, like to pretend that everyone in the military serves on an equal plane, that there aren’t institutionalized hierarchies within it along racial, class, gender, political, and religious lines (see here).
(Update: also see Max Blumenthal’s ‘Kill or Convert’ article in the latest issue of the Nation.)
A report released publicly on Thursday by the Defense Department’s (DOD) inspector general has found high-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated long-standing military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization while in uniform and on active duty.
The report recommended Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general’s report, “improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform” and the men should be disciplined for misconduct. Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-military affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He now oversees the cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigators he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.
The inspector general’s report recommended the “Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to the military officers concerned.”
The officers did not return phone calls or emails to respond to the report’s findings.
The 47-page report was also highly critical of Pentagon Chaplain Col. Ralph G. Benson, whom the inspector general’s report accused of knowingly misleading the DOD when he requested permission from DOD officials to film a video inside the Pentagon claiming he was interested in gathering information about the Pentagon’s “own ministry.” In fact, the report says, Benson was determined to use the video to “attract new supporters” to the Christian Embassy, an evangelical organization that evangelizes members of the military and politicians in Washington, DC via daily Bible studies and outreach events. The group holds prayer breakfasts on Wednesdays in the Pentagons executive dining room, according to the organization’s web site. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, founded the Christian Embassy 30 years ago.
Over the past few years, the military has set its sights on prosecuting Iraq war veterans who have completed active duty, soured on the war and participated in antiwar protests while wearing their uniforms. Recently, the US Marine Corps prosecuted Cpl. Adam Kokesh and Marine Sgt. Liam Madden, both of whom were photographed marching in an antiwar protest while wearing their uniforms in what the Marine Corps says was a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Military prosecutors vigorously sought to have both men dishonorably discharged. However, it appears unlikely the military will apply the same standard to the Air Force and Army officers who the inspector general said violated the same code of conduct Kokesh and Madden were found to have broken, according to the disciplinary recommendations of the report.
From Alternet, by Aimee Allison:
A typical poster in the new Army Strong campaign shows three soldiers in full battle gear, faces grim and determined. The middle soldier is a woman.
More money than ever is being spent to convince girls to join the military. I was one of them. The promise of school tuition and job training was attractive to me at the time, but it was just a small part of what it meant to enlist in “this man’s army.”
To girls seeking a future, recruiters present themselves as a father/friend/guide. But as I, and many other girls discover, these confidants cannot be trusted. Girls become victims of sexual assault at the hands of recruiters even before they take their military oath of allegiance.
But this isn’t a story about a few unlucky recruits and a couple of sickos in an otherwise healthy recruitment process. There is a deeper problem of widespread abuse and a system that protects the criminals.
Last summer an AP report found that dozens of military recruiters across the country had sexually abused enlistees, and that was based only the abuse that was reported and investigated by the military. A 2004 Pentagon survey found that 1 in 7 women in the military said they were victims of sexual abuse. Here’s a recent NPR story on widespread sexual abuse of female cadets in Iraq. See a pattern here?
In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.
Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women’s latrine after dark.
The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn’t located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. “There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night,” Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn’t drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn’t have to urinate at night. They didn’t get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said.
Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition’s joint task force said in a briefing that “women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep.”
“And rather than make everybody aware of that – because that’s shocking, and as a leader if that’s not shocking to you then you’re not much of a leader – what they told the surgeon to do is don’t brief those details anymore. And don’t say specifically that they’re women. You can provide that in a written report but don’t brief it in the open anymore.”
For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez’s top deputy in Iraq, saw “dehydration” listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women’s privacy rights.
From Media Mouse, which we want to thank for often linking to this site:
An Army recruiter plead guilty on Friday in Bessemer, Michigan to offering to help a 16-year old girl get into the Army in exchange for oral sex. 30-year old Army Sgt. Robert W. Scott was sentenced to one year in jail, placed on probation for five years, fined $3,020, and required to register as a sex offender.
The judge in the case said that he was not happy with the sentencing constraints under Michigan law according to the Ironwood Daily Globe. Circuit Court judge Roy Gotham said he would have preferred to send Scott to prison for over a year but was unable to do so under the law. Gotham described the incident as “a huge betrayal of trust – an extraordinary abuse of authority. You took advantage of someone who wanted to enter the service.” He went on to say “A 16-year-old is entitled to a great deal of protection by our society and when a 30-year-old man accosts a 16-year-old for sex by virtue of his authority over her, we have an extremely serious problem,” stating that this is an incredibly serious crime and that crimes such as this frequently have lifelong consequences for the victim.
While the story was picked up by the Associated Press wire and published in media outlets around the United States, the Associated Press report failed to put this incident into the context of what is a larger problem in the military. Last year, a study by the Associated Press found that more than 100 women were sexually harassed by recruiters when they expressed interest in joining the military. That study described recruiters who raped high school age recruits in recruiting centers or sexually assaulted them in government vehicles. Moreover, according the Associated Press study found that most incidents of sexual harassment or abuse by recruiters are handled with administrative punishments, jail time as was given in this case is quite rare. The Associated Press reported that more than 80 military recruiters had been disciplined in the year before the study was published.