Corporation recruits Kenyans for combat in Iraq

September 13, 2007 by

From allAfrica.com:

A company contracted by the US Government has been recruiting ex-military men and former police officers to serve in war-torn Iraq.

The Standard has established that Sentry Security of East Africa Limited, a liaison company for Sentry Security of East Africa, USA, is targeting to take some 800 Kenyans to serve in Iraq.

The first batch of ex-army soldiers and former police officers with clean service records is expected to leave the country sometime this month, according to sources privy to the exercise.

The recruitment of the former security personnel, aged between 30 and 50, has been going on across the country for the past two months.

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Involuntarily extended tours hurt the troops and their families

September 13, 2007 by

From In These Times:

Justin Thompson, 23, proposed to Erin underneath the Eiffel Tower last February. The photos of the two on her MySpace page have the hallmarks of a young couple in love. Thompson can’t wait to get back to Lacey, Wash., to get married, and go to college. There’s one problem: Thompson is in Baghdad, serving his second deployment as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, and he is losing hope that he’ll ever be allowed to leave.

Sgt. Thompson, assigned to the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the Second Infantry Division, was first deployed to Iraq in November 2003. When his unit returned to the United States one year later, he immediately started hearing rumors of redeployment and stop-loss–the military’s age-old policy that compels soldiers to continue serving during wartime, even after their contract expires. Four months later, the rumors were confirmed and Thompson was stop-lossed. Despite exhibiting signs of combat-related depression–uncontrolled anger and heavy drinking, for which he was repeatedly disciplined–Thompson redeployed to Iraq on June 28, 2006, exactly one day after his contract with the Army expired.

This April, while stationed in Baghdad, Thompson received another surprise. This second, involuntary tour would be extended by three months, as part of the Pentagon’s new policy that the Army’s standard tour of duty would be extended from 12 to 15 months. The news was devastating.

“I felt that I’d given everything I had to give,” Thompson says. “I felt that I’d pushed myself to the brink of insanity and back and that still wasn’t enough. I fought in a war I didn’t agree with, but I’d taken an oath saying that I would serve, so I did. I felt used up.”

The Pentagon made this decision in spite of a growing body of medical research–all of which was available before the policy change–that shows longer tours are a primary cause of combat-related stress. Research also shows longer tours increase the psychological impact of traumatic experiences on soldiers, correlate to an increase in combat ethics violations, and put intense strains on military families. In short, increasing the length of deployment puts American soldiers, their families and Iraqis in danger.

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Three arrested in kickoff to series of counter-recruitment protests

September 10, 2007 by

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From NYC Indymedia:

NEW YORK – The New York chapter of the War Resisters League kicked off a week of actions against military recruitment in New York by shutting down the Times Square Recruiting Station Saturday morning. Three members of the WRL were arrested, but the recruiting station remained closed for the rest of the day as the WRL maintained its presence there, joined in the afternoon by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

The three arrestees were charged with disorderly conduct and released four hours later.

The NYC War Resisters League called the week of anti-recruiting actions “to demand an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to cease destroying the lives of young people who are sent to war, and to rechannel the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the military into programs here and abroad that seek to improve lives of all people.”

Each day for the next week, a different group or groups will take responsibility for actions aimed at keeping the recruiting station in Times Square closed, beginning at 9am:

Sept. 10 (Mon.) : NYC Catholic Worker/Kairos Community
Sept. 11 (Tues.) : NYC War Resisters League
Sept. 12 (Wed.) : Witness Against Torture
Sept. 13 (Thurs.) : CodePink/Granny Peace Brigade
Sept. 14 (Fri.) : Movement for a Democratic Society-NYC/World Can’t Wait
Sept. 15 (Sat.) : Green Party of Brooklyn/Park Slope Greens

The War Resisters League is an 84-year-old secular pacifist organization, headquartered in New York City, and is affiliated with the War Resisters’ International, which is based in London. WRL believes war to be a crime against humanity and advocates Gandhian nonviolence as the method for creating a democratic society free of war, racism, sexism, and human exploitation.

Here’s a first-hand account of the protest, with pictures and videos:

At 8:30 am we egan blocking the front door of the yet-to-be-opened recruiting center. Shortly after, two counter-demonstrators (“Protest Warriors”) came with large banner and American flags. [Several hours later a “Gathering of Eagles” woman joined them and screamed most of the time.]
At 8:45 am, two recruiters appeared and tried to enter the building but were rebuffed by the demonstrators. The recruiters called the police who showed up a few minutes later. They warned that those blocking the door would be arrested AND that we’d all have to leave the “military island.” The police then brought in metal barricades to surround the island as well as setting them up across Broadway and across Seventh Ave.
The stand off lasted for an hour and a quarter before the three demonstrators were arrested (at 10 am) but the police allowed the rest of us to stay on the island as long as we allowed pedestrian traffic along the island. Immediately after the arrest, two recruiters entered the building.

North Carolina: Mandatory leadership class a military recruitment tool

September 10, 2007 by

At the end of this station’s report (video at the link), the anchor adds that only after parent and student complaints were ROTC exercises uniforms dropped from the class curriculum.

From WRAL.com:

Creedmoor — Some parents are balking at a study-skills course being taught to high school freshmen in Granville County, saying it borders on military recruitment.

The course is required for all ninth-graders in the county, and school administrators said it is needed to teach students the study and communications skills they will need throughout high school and college.

“The curriculum was approved by the school board as the 9th grade freshman enrichment curriculum,” South Granville High School Principal Pauline Brady said.

The course was piloted last year at South Granville High, and only one ninth-grader had to be held back, Brady said. The course was expanded to the county’s other two high schools this fall.

But parent Steve Strazis said he wants to pull his daughter from the course because it appears too military-oriented. The class is taught by an ROTC instructor, and initial requirements called for students to drill with ROTC classes and to be given the option of wearing uniforms at school.

“I think it’s disingenuous of the school to insist that this not recruiting going on,” Strazis said, noting the curriculum emphasizes “leadership enrichment” for students.

“(The course outline) doesn’t say what methods will be used, but it doesn’t say anything about military,” he said.

During the first day of class, he said, the instructor discussed college expenses and how the military could help defray the cost. But Brady said the instructor was just mentioning scholarship opportunities.

“One of them happens to be a military scholarship, so the information is shared with students so they have options,” she said. “I have (other) teachers who say, ‘I went to school on an athletic scholarship.'”

Still, Strazis said the class appears to go too far.

“I still have some questions about whether or not this may be used as a recruiting tool,” he said.

Weekend humor: Recruiter claims new incentives have nothing to do with drop in enlistment

September 9, 2007 by

As if we needed any more proof that recruiters lie, here’s a report that contains this quote from a recruiter Michael McMaster, talking about the relaxed standards and immediate $20,000 bonus for new recruits : “It’s not a representation of decreased enlistment numbers or anything like that.”

He says this just a month after the Army failed to meet its recruitment goal and subsequently added the $20,000 bonus program.

Yeah, we all believe you Captain McMaster!  Huge bonus offers have nothing to do with low enlistment.  Keep up the good work.

Hawaii: Aggressive military recruitment presence meets resistance

September 7, 2007 by

From the Haleakala Times:

When it comes to military recruitment in public schools, no child’s information is left inaccessible.

According to a brief section of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), any school receiving federal funding is required to provide military recruiters with middle and high school students’ names, phone numbers, and addresses upon request. Meanwhile, the Pentagon maintains a Department of Defense (DoD) database known as the Joint Advertising and Market Research Studies Recruiting Database that contains extensive information on approximately 30 million Americans ages 16 to 25.

The database is updated daily and includes information such as social security number, grade point average, ethnicity, areas of study, height, weight, email address, selective service registration, and phone number. Individuals may opt out from being included in this database but must repeat this process upon changing address. Many objectors claim that this database violates the Federal Privacy Act.

The military also uses the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery as a means of information gathering. The “most widely used multiple aptitude test in the world,” the DoD develops and maintains the test and more than half of America’s high schools participate. Students’ scores determine which occupations best suit them. Taking the ASVAB is also a requirement for military enlistment.

In order for their tests to be processed, students are required to sign a waiver that allows the military to keep any information provided on the form for various uses. In most cases, military recruiters automatically receive copies of students’ scores, names, grades, sex, addresses, phone numbers, and post-graduation plans unless the school decides against releasing this information.

“Many students will take the ASVAB and not know what it is,” Pitcaithley says. “It gives the military a foot in the door to accessing students.”

One mother says that during her son’s freshmen orientation this summer at Baldwin High School on Maui, a guidance counselor mentioned the ASVAB as a free test offered to students by the military.

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Canada: Military recruiter marketing strategy targeting ‘action-oriented males’ revealed

September 7, 2007 by

From CTV:

The plan was an ambitious one.

Last fall, the Canadian Military launched an aggressive recruitment campaign in an attempt to bolster its numbers by more than 20,000 people over the next ten years.

Now there are questions about just who they’re trying to put in uniform and how they’re finding them. This after CTV obtained formerly classified documents detailing the recruitment strategy.

Andria Hill-Lehr says she’ll never forget the day her son told her he was going to Afghanistan. “It was November 2005 at a Christmas party when he came home and told me he’d been chosen to go. He did that, I think because he anticipated there would be some emotion, so I tried to keep it together. In the end I excused myself, I went upstairs and cried and cried and cried.”

Hill-Lehr says her son joined the Reserves after being won over by what she calls “military propaganda.” That’s why she’s so angry at how the Canadian forces are now reaching out to Canadian youth. “I think it’s irresponsible. I think it is preying on young people to make killing look like fun.”

Under the Access to Information Act, CTV News obtained formerly classified documents detailing the Military’s latest recruitment campaign, which launched last summer.

Documents reveal the military wanted to “inform, entertain and seduce “action focused males” between 17 and 22 years old.

It decided the most fertile ground for that was online, around video games.

“Keywords will be purchased on Canada’s major search engine networks (Google, Yahoo, MSN), the documents say, “based on gaming searches & other target-age interests (ie. Halo, MechAssault, Medal of Honour, etc.)

That, says the NDP Defence Critic, is irresponsible and dangerous. Dawn Black says, “War is real, it’s not a video game. People are being killed, people are being maimed. People are being terribly injured both physically and psychologically, and in the war in Afghanistan and I think it’s wrong to glamourize it.”

The Canadian Forces said nobody was available to comment on this story, but they did release a statement saying: “The primary purpose of recruit advertising is to raise awareness with the 17 to 34 year old target audience of a career in the Canadian Forces and to attract them to approaching the CF for further information. The Internet is only part of the strategy to meet the recruitment requirements of the Canadian Forces.”

Those requirements are hefty. The forces want to add 13,000 people and another 10,000 reservists over the next decade.

A professor who studies how video games influence the behaviour of young people, says the military may want to think twice about its approach. Michael Hoechsmann of McGill University says, “Playing a game is not going to cause you to go and kill people. It can however desensitize you to death, and it can also make war appear as a game and as something spectacular and exciting.”

Despite the controversy in Canada, using video games to recruit soldiers is common practice south of the border.

In fact, one of the most popular war-themed games on the market was developed by the U.S. Department of Defence. It’s called America’s Army.

Tampa Bay, FL: Counter-recruiting veterans finally get access to schools

September 6, 2007 by

From the St. Petersburg Times:

After more than a year’s deliberation, the Pinellas School Board on Tuesday granted access to groups wishing to present alternatives to military service to high school students.

The decision means that after a 21/2-year ban, antiwar groups such as Veterans for Peace will be allowed on Pinellas County high school campuses – as long as their intent is to present an alternative to the message delivered by military recruiters.

The board’s adoption of an “access to students” policy, which came after several draft versions, makes Pinellas the first large district in the state to approve such a plan, School Board attorney Jim Robinson said.

“What you see now,” Robinson said, “is a much simplified rule that simply states that to the same extent that military recruiters are granted access to students, so will persons who seek to propose alternative post-secondary careers and opportunities.”

The new policy includes several caveats, which apply to all individuals or groups seeking access to students, including college and military recruiters.

Visits must be scheduled in advance with school administrators. No more than two visitors can meet with students at one time without permission from the principal.

Meetings can take place before and after school and at lunch time only, and all visitors must wear district-issued identification badges while on campus.

The policy also gives principals the right to deny access to any group or individual who “becomes disruptive.”

That was a sticking point with some members of Veterans for Peace, the group that brought the question of student access to the district in April 2006. Several wanted the policy to be more specific regarding what activities qualified as “disruptive,” fearing visitors could be arbitrarily dismissed without just cause.

Nevertheless, Veterans for Peace member Linda Hubner said she was thrilled with the board’s unanimous decision to approve the access policy.

“This is what we’ve wanted all along,” Hubner said, “the chance to give kids the information they need to make life and death decisions.”

Two years ago, Pinellas officials denied the group access to students, saying the veterans’ message didn’t correspond with school goals. The group had cited legal precedent that it would constitute “viewpoint discrimination.”

Las Vegas: Army recruiter found innocent of child prnography charges

September 5, 2007 by

From the Las Vegan Sun:

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.

Fresno: Group distributes NCLB opt-out forms

September 5, 2007 by

From ABC30.com:

A local organization is informing students that they can prevent that [students’ information being released to recruiters] from happening.

Thursday morning the Central Valley Counter Recruitment Coalition handed out flyers at several high schools including Fresno High School in Central Fresno.

Organizers say there is a form students can use to keep their contact information private from the military.

Scott Keys, CVCRC, says, “It’s really about helping them understand this, rights imbedded in the No Child Left Behind Act.”

Organizers say the act allows the information to be released. They say they want students to know about it and that they have the option to opt out.

They also say students are not required to take a military readiness test which can release their contact information.