You know, as the father of one daughter in the Army, and another who will start Basic Combat Training next June, after she finishes high school, some things just annoy the heck out of me; this article from David Swanson on OpEdNews is one of them:
“This is so cool! This is so cool!” a thirteen-year-old boy repeated as he squeezed rounds from a real M-16, picking off “enemy combatants” in a video game while perched atop a real Army Humvee. “I just came to the mall to skateboard but everyone said this was pretty cool. I just had to try it and it’s great!”
The person reporting on this youthful enthusiasm was Pat Elder, who serves on the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth. Elder also described young teenagers congratulating each other for “killing ragheads” and “wiping out hajis.”
All of this fun went on at the Army Experience Center (AEC), a 14,500-square-foot “virtual educational facility” in the Franklin Mills Mall in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Army opened the center in August 2008 and planned to run it for two years as a pilot program. If the center proved able to recruit as many new soldiers as five ordinary recruiting stations, the Army planned to build them nationally. The AEC cost more than $12 million to design and construct, but of course the Army spends several billion dollars a year on recruitment.
Naturally, the activists tried to shut down the Army Experience Center. However, the AEC is apparently going to be closed:
Days prior to this long-planned and publicly announced protest, the Army preemptively announced that it would likely close the AEC and not open any others in shopping malls, as had been planned. The reason? Are you ready to hear this?
By their own admission, the Army doesn’t need any more recruits because the bad economy has driven up recruitment significantly.
Now, I have to wonder, since Mr Swanson didn’t cite his source: did the Army say that recruitment was up because of the economy, or did it simply say that recruitment was up?
Now, the truth is that the economy is lousy, unemployment is rising, and the military has cut back on other recruitment expenses, the stated reason being the rise in recruitment that comes with a lousy economy.
Same claim, repeated. And the same response: did the Army state that it was the economy which has increased recruitment, or is that Mr Swanson’s added opinion?
The whopper of a lie is that the Army could ever be satisfied with its recruitment numbers. And the glaring omission was the protests. While the Army is cutting back in recruitment on some areas, it’s still spending billions of dollars per year, and it is spending those billions where they’ll be most effective, which means, in part, where they will generate the least opposition and negative attention. Early reports, prior to the protests, were that the AEC was succeeding in its recruitment goals. Following the protests, the AEC mysteriously became ineffective.
Emphasis mine. Perhaps Mr Swanson doesn’t realize it, but of course the Army could be satisfied with its recruitment numbers: the maximum size of the Army is specified by law, called the strength ceiling, and the Army cannot recruit in excess of its authorized force levels.
I can tell you, from our family’s experience, that recruiting is doing well: our younger daughter received a smaller recruitment bonus than her sister, because authorized bonuses have shrunk, due to the military achieving its goals easily. She wanted to enlist earlier, and do Basic Combat Training this past summer — between her junior and senior years of high school — but she started the process late in the year (May) and recruiting goals for the Army Reserve were alreadsy so close to having been met that she couldn’t. Her enlistment was delayed until October because she had to wait for the new fiscal year to begin.
As it happens, the younger Miss Pico went to the Hazleton Recruiting Center this morning, for the first step in her Future Soldier training.
Our military is made up entirely of volunteers; conscription ended in the 1970s. If Mr Swanson and those who believe similarly to him don’t want to join the military, I say fine, don’t join; that is their free choice. But, as I noted in a comment to Mr Swanson’s article, it’s amazing to me that people on the left, people who are supposed to champion freedom of choice and freedom of speech, are so adamant about silencing choices and speech of which they do not approve.