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March 28, 2005
This New York Times article on the tough times faced by Army recruiters has prompted an interesting cross-blog conversation on the topic, conducted by people who know what they're talking about. Start with Milblogger James Joyner at Outside the Beltway:
One suspects George Patton would slap these guys silly with a glove. We've got soldiers in Iraq getting killed by terrorists with IEDs and these guys are having ulcers and going AWOL because they're getting strongly worded memos?!Which brought this response from Jack Army
First, almost all (notice the qualifier) detailed recruiters that I have talked to would rather be in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just to be sure you understand: Soldiers would rather go to a war zone with the potential for death and serious injury rather than be at home trying to recruit more Soldiers. If that doesn't tell you something, then you refuse to understand the difficulty of recruiting duty.Cori Dauber at Ranting Profs chimes in:
It is interesting, isn't, that as things get better in Iraq, the recruiters' job gets no easier? It's interesting, too, that the Times gets a bit snarky when commanders send emails to the recruiters bashing them for not making quota that don't take the war into account as a factor in their difficulties, but never considers the idea that the coverage of the war might be a factor as well?And Jason Van Steenwyk at Countercolumn
Given the recent circulation scandals (which don't affect the Times, as far as I know, to its credit), the newspaper advertising sales force is going through pressures of its own, and reacting in similar ways.
Update: My own two cents: recruiting is rough duty. Faced with a choice between that and returning to Iraq I'd likely return to the sandbox - guess I'm with Jack on that one. I'm a fan of James' blog - have been for a while, but I wonder if even his contrast between the rigors of recruiting and war was influenced somewhat by media coverage - I know my pre-deployment view of Iraq was, even though I also knew most of that coverage to be sensational and wrong. Which of course supports what Professor Dauber was saying - if I could be swayed a little think how that same media coverage plays in the minds of recruits.
Certainly there's no denying that the military is losing a "demographic group" that once helped swell the ranks. Those folks who joined "for an education" are now seeking opportunities elsewhere.
And make no mistake about it, recruiting is tough duty. I knew an Air Force recruiter - an E6 with over 10 years in service - who burned out at that task in just a couple of years during the late 1990's - long before the war on terror was acknowledged for what it was. Extreme hours, travel, and pressure combined to quickly wear him down, and the experience over all was not a pleasant one at the time nor did it ultimately become a fond memory for him. (Disclaimer, he had volunteered for the duty to get close to home due to the fact a close relative was terminally ill, this certainly didn't help.)
Not everyone experiences the same results. And not all days for recruiters are all bad. Check out what this crew is up to. And consider this Blue State nightmare - your kid goes off to Spring Break with your car and credit card then comes home not only broke and sunburned but with a contract for military service too.
Update 2: An Air Force recruiter sends in this little
A cutom-made USAF Bike from the Orange County Chopper crew, making it's debut appearance at the Golden Corral 500. It's complete with Stealth Bomber gas tank, Air Force symbol spokes, F-22 rear views, and a round for an A-10 Thunderbolt's GAU-8/A 30mm Avenger Cannon. Sweet.
Of course, somewhere an Army recruiter is getting chewed for not thinking of this one...
Update 3: I stand corrected (yet again!) by a commenter! Scott T points out: "American Chopper did a pair of episodes (Part 1+Part 2) of building a "Commanche" bike. So the Army's gotten their shot already."
The same link has a POW bike, and you can view both it and the Commanche from multiple angles there.
Meanwhile, on a related note (related to recruiting and manpower, I mean. After all, that was what we were talking about, right?) a couple of stories indicating retension is pretty good for the US GI's in Germany, many of whom are just back from Iraq. Could it be the lack of exposure to American media has left them with some sort of a sense of pride?
Under the headline Army retention rates booming among 1st ID, 1st AD soldiers in Europe comes an analogy I wouldn't have made, but it gets the point across.
Many vow they?re getting out, said Sgt. Maj. William Sharpsteen, command career counselor for U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg. But soldiers coming out of the desert often are like the pregnant woman who swears she?ll never go through all that pain and discomfort again, Sharpsteen said. ?Then a month after the delivery, she?s talking about having another baby.?Read the whole thing, as a wise man once said.
A companion piece examines the motives for Soldiers deciding to stay or go. Among them:
Spc. Alphonso Rodriguez, 27, of Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, plans to transfer to the Air Force, largely because of what he feels are better educational opportunities.In reality that depends more on your actual job than your branch of service.
I think he just digs the Air Force bike...
Update 4: Funny - after reading informed blog content like the four sites linked above to find this in the Boston Globe. And by "funny" I mean not funny. Parts of this might be truth...
When Richard Nixon abolished the draft a generation ago, he effectively relieved citizens of any obligation to participate in the nation's defense. Military service became strictly a matter of individual choice, one that the Pentagon promoted as a job opportunity.but this is wrong:
As a consequence, the military establishment that emerged by the 1990s as a preeminent symbol of revived national self-confidence and self-esteem was in no sense representative of American society. Its members came not from the suburbs but from the farm and the inner city, not from Harvard but from Prairie View A & M.It's an opinion piece, but in this instance the author is uninformed - or lying. The military is indeed representative of America. I'm from the suburbs, as are many others far as I can tell. Honestly it's not something we care enough about to ask. The reality is that the largest group of those currently serving are from military families.
And Harvard grads must be present to make a group representative of America?
Posted by Greyhawk / March 28, 2005 4:28 PM | Permalink
...regardless of what the so-called "reporters" in the Boston Globe tell you. Greyhawk drives the point home at the end of his post on the subject of military recruiting: Read More
The war isn't really being fought disproportionately by minorites and poor folk. The Army's wartime recruiting challenge is aggravated by a sharp drop in enlistments by black people during the past four years. Internal Army and Defense Department polls... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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