Military Recruitment & Target Populations

Since the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy became law over 11,000 service members have been kicked out of the military for their sexuality. The number of service members who have left on their own volition, or have decided not to re-enlist is not documented (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) . Yet, the U.S. military has expressed an impassioned plea through a recent Associated Press Article; they are desperate to increase their diversity.

Citing recruitment numbers the military estimates that the number of black folks enlisting is down by over a third since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One military recruiter after another list the myriad of reasons why recruitment among African Americans is down:

  1. Marine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway, “The daily death toll that comes out… that’s probably the single most dominant feature.”
  2. Pentagon Official Gilroy said, the improving economy is giving potential recruits more opportunities for better paying jobs outside the military.
  3. He goes on to say, “We hear greater criticism of this administration’s policies and greater concerns about the effects of the war… {he wants black leaders to} “Talk about the nobility of service.”
  4. Sgt. Terry Wright, an Army recruiter in Tampa, Fla., “I go to high schools every day, and for the most part it strikes me how many of them are serious about going to college.”
  5. Pentagon Official Gilroy, “because of the makeup of African-American families and the relatively more significant roles (the families) play, moms have a greater influence on their families. And we know that moms, in general, do not support the war.

“The decline in black recruits overall has been offset partly by an increase in Hispanic recruits and those who classify themselves as other races or nationalities” (Associated Press).

Can we take a step back and deconstruct this for a second? Based on these quotes it seems like military recruiters are having a difficult time with their jobs because there are simply not enough poor black folks from single parent homes left to recruit. They all have other opportunities, are not dedicated to service – or they died in combat already. Not once in this entire article are these men and women framed as agents of their own future. No one mentions the black high school student pacifist, or the potential recruit who is open to service outside of the military machine. There is certainly no mention of the affluent black folk who live outside of the ‘target’ population.

If you need further proof that the military is targeting oppressed peoples – read between the lines. It is not just a population surge that has increased the number of Hispanic recruits. They ran out of black folks and they are moving on to brown folks of all shades. As long as that brown person is not gay, of course. Watch the story of one Arabic translator who was fired from the Navy for being gay:

The U.S. military is turning away thousands of homosexuals so they can target people of color in low income neighborhoods and then go to the Associated Press to trumpet how important diversity is!

I believe, whole heartedly, in the power of service to change the world. I believe in diversity. I am fuming because these words are twisted to target low-income, heterosexual, minorities into going to war. The Student Peace Action Network (SPAN) is, for me, a better way for diverse groups of people to serve their country. SPANs primary mission is to protect privacy rights. Recent actions by SPAN affiliates target ‘no child left behind’. Under this law every high school graduates’ name and contact information is submitted to military recruiters unless they make a consorted effort to ‘opt out.’ SPAN activists all over this nation are organizing to put an end to this process and stop the military from targeting our teens. Now that is a service to our nation and its future.

By: Barbra Bearden

3 Responses to Military Recruitment & Target Populations

  1. Stasigr says:

    Hello, very nice site, keep up good job!
    Admin good, very good.

  2. lgbtjobs says:

    I find it rather sad the awful don’t ask don’t tell policy exists, it’s crazy when you consider that in other countries the military are activley recruiting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/ LGBT GLGBT people and it seems to be the norm. Although when it did happen it was a mistake!! (source http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,372922,00.html ) and made the military into a laughing stock.

    In the UK there are a few Jobs Fairs run specifically for gay jobseekers and the army, royal navy, airforce etc all tend to have stalls at these events (source – http://gayjobs.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/gay-jobs-fairs-2008/ ) although I’d like to hear how many people they recruit as a result as it’s still not easy being out and gay at work, and being gay in the military must be even harder!

    Besides, why would queer communities want to take up arms in the name of a country when that country and it’s values reject them!?

  3. Amber says:

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