Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Michael Bronner's "The Recruiters' War" (Vanity Fair)

There are a number of articles worthy of note in the current Vanity Fair (September, 2005). I'm not finding any of them online. Jim noted one Sunday:

Vanity Fair is reporting, in their September issue, that the firing and silencing of FBI translator Sibel Edmonds results from "state secrets" involving parties close to the Turkish government. Specificially the American-Turkish Council, on whose board former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft serves, and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. David Rose's "An Inconvenient Patriot" states that on December 2, 2001, Edmonds and her husband David Edmonds were visited at their home by Malek Can Dickerson, then an FBI translator, and Dickerson's husband, former Air Force major Douglas Dickerson.
During the visit both the A.T.C. and A.T.A.A. were brought up by the Dickersons with suggestions that both organizations could be helpful to the Edmonds. Wiretaps that Sibel Edmonds had heard, suggested, from Rose's article, "that the Washington office of the A.T.C. was being used as a front for criminal activity." The wiretaps also allegedly revealed suspects stating that "they had a covert relationship with . . . Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999."
Wiretaps also reportedly reveal a discussion of "a payment to a Pentagon official, who seemed to be involved in weapons-procurement negotiations" and "that Turkish groups had been installing doctoral students at U.S. research institutions in order to acquire information about black-market nuclear weapons." Again, that is from the September issue of Vanity Fair, David Rose's "An Inconvenient Patriot."
Rose notes that A.T.C. "denies that the organization has ever been involved in espionage or illegal payments. And a spokesperson for the Assembly of Turkish American Associations said that to suggest the group was involved with espionage or illegal payments is 'ridiculous.'"

We're going to note Michael Bronner's "The Recruiters' War" which Mike has also noted today.
From the article:

Recruits from all the armed forces are given an official drug tests at MEPS before they ship to boot camp. If they "piss hot" at MEPS they are disqualied from the military for 45 days a
"The heart of the problem, recruiters say, is the system itself. Like traffic cops, recruiters work on a monthly quota system, and the pressure to produce is intense. This year, the Marine Corps plans to ship just over 39,000 new troops to boot camp (up by about 2,000 from 2004), while the army's 2005 goal is 80,000 new soldiers (up from 77,000 last year). For the 2,650 Marine recruiters and their 7,500 counterparts in the army, those goals land in their cubicles like cannonballs. For every Marine recruiter, "making mission" means signing an average 2.5 new recruits a month. In the army, the quota is two a month. That may sound easy enough, but when I suggested as much to a number of recruiters, the depth of their frustration was palpable.
Last March the army announced it missed its monthly recruiting goal for the first time in five years -- shipping 27 percent fewer active-duty troops to boot camp than slated in its mission. The slide continued from there, with the army missing its mission for the next four months. "Today's conditions represent the most challenging conditions we have seen in recruiting in my 33 years in this uniform," Mayor General Michael Rochelle, the head of the army's recruiting command, said in a recent press conference. He evoked combat imagery -- "a very, very intense fight" -- to convey the urgency of stanching the hemorrhaging of the all-volunteer army.
At press time, the Marine Corps was still shipping enough recruits to boot camp, but admitted that for the first time in 10 years it had failed to sign its quota of new troops to put in the pool from which it draws for boot camp. (In May the Marine Corps stopped making its contracting numbers available to reporters.) The situation is even worse when it comes to weekend warriors. The National Guard and five out of the country's six military reserve units have reported deficits. The Army Reserve, which missed its mission for five consecutive months, earlier this year, is so overextended, wrote the the Army Reserve's chief,
Lieutenant General James R. "Ron" Helmly, in a memo to the army's chief of staff last December, that the Reserve "is rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force."
Fissures are showing in recruiting offices all over the country. Many of the military's most successful field recruiters and station commanders, men who have never failed to make mission in their careers, are flailing now, and morale is in the gutter. According to the army, since October 2002 some 30 army recruiters have gone AWOL. Recruiters all over the country describe pressure barreling down the chain of command like never before. But it's never been an easy job.
[. . .]

Back in Asheville, Sergeant Massey told me, his gunnery sergeant, having been made aware of the investigation, sent him back to Andrews on a mission: not to apologize to the Queen family, but rather to try to recruit Tim's younger brother, Jason. "Takes some pretty big huevos, huh?" Massey said when he recounted the story. Did they really think the brother would join after what happened to Tim, I asked him. "No. It was just to f**k with the Queens."

Why mess with the Queens? He was recruited, Tim Queen, even though it was obvious he didn't meet the standards. Once in boot camp, the fact that recruiters and doctors had ignored (or, to be generous, "missed") that fact, Queen was accused of being a fraud who had lied his way into the military. (Queen would get an "Other than Honorable" discharge. When his local sherrif contacted their Congress member, an 'investigation' would be launched. Reports to Vanity Fair indicate it that 'investigation' is being overly generous.)

Bronner's article is inside. It's not even listed on the cover (Jennifer Aniston is the cover celeb -- not a slam at Aniston, just tossing that out for anyone who's going to pick up the mag as a prompt when they're in the stores or libraries). Bronner's got numerous sources (including recruiters) and the picture painted is pretty grim. Single mother? Well the recruiters won't tell you that you can join if you turn over custody of your child (with court papers to prove it) that you can enlist. They will, however, show you the policy on that. Have a problem that should keep you from enlisting? You may be advised, by your recruiter, not to tell anyone. (For instance, if you're a single mother and you don't want to give up custody, show back up and say that you were wrong or lied when you said you had kids earlier.) Medical conditions? You don't need to shout it, you don't even need to pass it on. Whether it's being on Ritalin or Prozac.

Recruiters need to make their quotas. Pressure is more intense now as a result of the mood of the country (translation, enlistment is down). From the article:

A former Marine recruiter from Dallas put it more bluntly: "Everybody frauds contracts. It's just a matter of coaching that kid to keep his mouth shut. Everybody does it. It doesn't matter what service. We all did it. The can sit there and tell you they haven't done it, but they're full of sh*t."

It's an article worth reading. If you read it, think about the fact that these recruiters are on campuses (high schools and colleges) and are targeting young adults.

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