Has this one hit the mainstream yet? Twistings of truth and outright lies — exaggerated promises of benefits, downplayed odds of seeing combat — are sadly not uncommon military recruitment tactics. (Neither is parking outside of a high school in a tricked-out Hummer with an awesome sound system, and flat screens on which you can play video games specifically designed to encourage new juvenile enlistees.) As recruiting has gotten harder, we’ve also seen high-profile incidents of recruiters encouraging applicants to lie.
Needless to say, a recruiter who believes his cause is noble should pride himself in honest recruitment: There’s no honor in duping a 16 year-old potential recruit who’s scrambling to find money for college. And then it’s bad for morale and public trust in the military when promises aren’t kept.
(A group of us worked to reform recruiting in Providence high schools a few years ago, and succeeded in having a number of changes instituted — like helping to make sure that students and parents knew what information they needed to release to recruiters, and what they didn’t. And no, I don’t mean to imply that all recruiters misrepresent facts.)
The tack at hand is especially nefarious because it comports with a wide-spread misconception of Obama’s military policy. I hope Obama gets us out of these conflicts, but that’s not what he’s saying he’s going to do: It’s unclear what path he’ll take in Iraq, and he plans to ramp things up in Afghanistan and increase military ranks by 92,000. (The Rahm Emmanuel pick is understandably worrisome to many anti-war activists.)
It’s hard to know if this particular recruiting tactic is widespread, or whether the guy who sent this email is on his own; whether similar lines are being used with potential new recruits, or just with reservists, etc. Some people over at VoteVets are on the lookout…