Saturday, September 16, 2006

FIGHTING FORCES - Coaxing the unwilling

US military recruiting in 2006 has been marked by upbeat pronouncements from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, claims of success by the White House, propaganda releases by the Pentagon, and a spate of recent press reports touting the way the military has made its wo/manpower goals. But the US armed forces have only met with success through a fundamental "transformation", and not the transformation of the military - that "co-evolution of concepts, processes, organizations and technology" - Rumsfeld is always talking about, either.

While the secretary of defense's long-standing goal of transforming the planet's most powerful military into its highest-tech, most agile, most futuristic fighting force has, in the words of the Washington Post's David Von Drehle, "melted away", the very makeup of the armed forces has been mutating before our collective eyes under the pressure of the war in Iraq. This actual transformation has been reported, but only in scattered articles on the new recruitment landscape in the United States.

Last year, despite NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), professional bull-riding and Arena Football sponsorships; popular video games that doubled as recruiting tools; television commercials dripping with seductive scenes of military glory; a "joint marketing communications and market research and studies" program actively engaged in measures to target for military service Hispanics, dropouts and those with criminal records; and at least US$16,000 in promotional costs for each soldier it managed to sign up, the US military failed to meet its recruiting goals.

This year, those methods have been pumped up and taken over the top in 12 critical areas of recruitment that make the old army ad-line "Be all that you can be" into material for late-night TV punch lines of the future.

Link to article

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