In February, the Army missed its recruiting goal
for the first time in nearly five years. The Army missed its March goal by 32
percent while the need for soldiers is on the rise. The United States Armed
Services have announced a new plan to solve their recruiting problems – convincing
parents to get their children to enlist. At the same time, parents are organizing
to ensure the military draft does not return. The battle lines for the bodies
of America's youth are beginning to take shape.
The military has a tough road ahead. Polling of 1,200 potential recruits conducted
by Millward Brown shows that parents are a problem: "Opposition to … military
service is increasing significantly among both moms and dads." According
to USA Today, "GfK Custom Research found that the biggest influence
in candidates' decision to join were mother, named by 81 percent of respondents,
followed by fathers at 70 percent." GfK urges the Army to "Reach the
As unlikely as it sounds, the Army is planning to try to convince parents that
sending their beloved children to war is good for them. How? They are going
to use slick marketing and propaganda, including:
Television advertisements focused on mothers, fathers, coaches, and ministers
– people the Army sees as "influencers."
This seems like a bit of a "Hail Mary" pass by the Army. Convincing
parents to send their children to war or join the military while the U.S. policy
is one of preemptive war is going to be a tough sell. The propaganda they are
planning will have to be pretty convincing.
Parents see the failing recruitment and are worried that the inability to sign
up recruits is going to lead to reinstatement of the draft. Groups of parents
are forming to fight the return of the draft.
Terry McCarthy of Parents Against
a Draft told me: "It is up to us to convince those politicians advocating
an increase in the military, especially by reinstating a draft, that this position
will lead to their defeat at the polls. These politicians are
completely out of touch with Americans." Their Web site includes ideas
about how parents can get organized to prevent the return of the draft.
On the discussion group of another organization, Mothers
Against the Draft, described how recruiters are figuring out whom to recruit:
"Recruiters are giving our kids a special 'aptitude' test (ASVAB) WITHOUT
parental consent, thanks to No Child Left Behind; at my daughter's high school
in Nashville, the guidance counselor said 'this is not for recruitment,' yet
a uniformed recruiter was in charge. Kids were told that this test was merely
'a great way to learn what your talents are, and what kind of career might be
best for you in the future.'
"Guess what? Her friends who felt they couldn't say no ended up getting
called by recruiters, and kids with certain aptitudes – especially mechanical
or computer – got aggressively recruited. This is nationwide.
"My daughter saw through it and asked not to take the test. Most of her
friends were afraid to refuse something that SOUNDED mandatory. You can read
more about this testing trick in the article, 'Enlist Today! Luring Kids into
the Military Behind their Parents' Backs,' on www.JesusOnTheFamily.org."
Another parent active with Parents Against a Draft, Diane Fosse, said what
is probably on a lot of parents minds in an interview with me:
"What is most important to me is making all Americans aware that a
draft is a very real possibility and that more and more young Americans will
be sacrificed if there is a draft, not in a war like World War II that had to
be fought, but so the U.S. can attack other countries and force democracy on
those countries. True democracy and freedom cannot be forced on countries. What
we are doing now is not creating friends and allies, but making more and more
enemies for the U.S. This certainly does not make us safer from terrorists."
So parents are figuring out what they can do to protect their kids from dishonest
recruiters and Army propaganda as well as organizing to prevent a return of
the military draft. There is a lot people can do to protect their kids. In a
J.E. McNeil of The Center on Conscience & War (CCW) told me that when youth
register for the selective service, they should:
Find a post office for their registration that has an accessible photocopier.
Print in legible black ink on the face of the registration card in the
center (not on the edges): "I am a conscientious objector."
Make a photocopy of their registration form for their own records before
they submit it to the postal clerk for date stamp and initials.
Prepare a statement of their beliefs and get it on file with their church
or other religious body, CCW, or other counseling agency. Such a statement
could be helpful in getting the government to recognize their CO beliefs.
More details can be found here
Another thing parents and youth can do is organize. An excellent organizing
tool is the No Child Left Behind Act. The Act gives military recruiters access
to the names and contact information of students. But students or parents can
request that they not be given those names. So one organizing opportunity is
for students and parents to organize a petition drive in their school seeking
parents and children to sign a statement requesting that their school not provide
recruiters with this information. Taking this approach will educate both students
Such an effort can be brought to your local PTA. As Terry McCarthy told me:
"Parents can try to get their state PTA to pass a resolution against the
draft. This is in concert with the PTA's national position for promoting
world peace and for spending money on educating our children." If parents
across the country began to organize against the return of the draft through
their local PTA, it would put pressure on policymakers nationally – you can't
get much more mainstream than the PTA!
Of course, Congress is the key arbiter. Staying in touch with your member of
Congress in the House and Senate is critically important. One opportunity will
be an anti-draft lobby day on
May 16 in Washington, D.C.
As pressure continues to mount, it will be more important than ever for parents
to be organized to protect their kids. The time to act is now, before the draft