Monday, March 13, 2006

National Media Speak with Forked Tongue 
The Associated DePressed writes that the current recruiting environment sucks.

With U.S. casualties rising in wars overseas and more opportunities in the civilian work force from an improved U.S. economy, many young people are shunning a career in the armed forces. But recruiting is still a two-way street - and the military, too, doesn't want most people in this prime recruiting age group of 17 to 24.

Of some 32 million Americans now in this group, the Army deems the vast majority too obese, too uneducated, too flawed in some way, according to its estimates for the current budget year.

"As you look at overall population and you start factoring out people, many are not eligible in the first place to apply," said Doug Smith, spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command.

Some experts are skeptical.

Previous Defense Department studies have found that 75 percent of young people are ineligible for military service, noted Charles Moskos of Northwestern University. While the professor emeritus who specializes in military sociology says it is "a baloney number," he acknowledges he has no figures to counter it.

"Recruiters are looking for reasons other than themselves," said David R. Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland. "So they blame the pool."

Got that? Many young people are shunning a career in the Armed Forces.

Well, it is true that the recruiting environment has been challenging IN SOME AREAS. Unfortunately, the toughest areas for recruiting are usually in the major cities most national reporters are likely to work in.

But if there was ever a recession in recruiting, the National Guard, apparently, decided not to join.

Rather, the National Guard is thinking outside the box, is using proven nontraditional marketing techniques, and is using its soldiers to get out their in its community - our own communities - to get our story told.

It's a shame we have to do what the media can't or won't. But while the media was focusing their reserve component coverage on Abu Ghraib, mutiney, and equipment shortages, the reality was that the National Guard was out there overcoming the institutional handicaps imposed upon it by the Army over the last 20 years, developing soldiers, creating leaders, and getting the job done.

The fact is I've got so many new recruits now joining my unit that the logistics system that is supposed to provide them with uniforms and field gear is struggling to keep up.

The investment we've made in terms of leadership has been huge: Some of my best NCOs, and some of the cream of the crop from other units - have been plucked from the line units and moved over to recruiting duties on special work orders. That causes problems at the company level, if I'm losing key trainers and equipment hand receipt holders on short notice, but it's workable.)

The return on the investment, though, promises to be terrific. Many of my new recruits are still in high school. (And no, you whiners, I don't have anyone joining my unit in their 40s now, though I have one new soldier who's 37 and a prior service medic but who wants to be a mortarman and have fun now.)

Over the summer, though, as these soldiers graduate, complete basic training, and AIT, my company's strength will increase by a full platoon, across a variety of MOSs.

I put my newest NCO in charge of this group. He's in his early 20s, himself, and was recently promoted to sergeant, and I wanted to give him a football to run with as soon as possible. Hell, he grabbed that football and ran with it like Ricky Williams. He's got those new recruits hopping every minute of the day, learning how the army works, learning soldier skills, learning how to maintain a weapon, learning how to march.

They don't walk in the door athletes in many cases. But they take a physical fitness test every drill. Three months ago almost all of them failed it. Now almost all of them are passing, no problem. Why? Because we don't wait for basic training. We get them into the unit, give great NCOs a chance to work with them, and begin right away. And because they're busy, they're excited, they're challenged, they take pride in their new prowess on the PT field, and they're starting to bring in their brothers and their cousins. The outlook for the unit is better than ever.*

Yeah, yeah. The recruiters are looking for someone to blame but themselves, says the sources quoted by the Associated DePressed.

Too bad they didn't do some more, you know, reporting, or they wouldn't have missed this story. The Washington Post, as usual, outclasses the rest.

Splash, out


*Clearly, all my new soldiers, who are 80% minority, want to die in a trumped-up, racist oil war against brown people for Halliburton, right?

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