March 20, 2005

When America has problems, their eyes light up...

Jack Kelly, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette demolishes Robert Burns of the AP:

...Journalists portrayed the February shortfall in the worst possible light.

"To the daily drumbeat of casualty reports from Iraq, young blacks and women are marching away from offers to the join the Army," wrote Robert Burns of The Associated Press.

"These trends, combined with negative effects of the Army's image as a last-resort career choice for what one study called the 'average Joe,' suggests the military's largest service may be entering a prolonged recruiting slump at a time when it is trying to expand its ranks," Burns wrote.

Or maybe not. The last time the Army missed a monthly recruiting goal -- in May 2000 -- it made it up by the end of the fiscal year. The glass always seems half-empty when you tell only half the story...(thanks to

The "journalists" are on the other side. And you can bet your last Ducat that if the recruiting goal ends up being met, it won't be "news" to the AP, and a lot of people will be left with the lingering belief that the Army is scraping the bottom of the barrel for cannon-fodder. When in fact many recruiting trends are positive:

Among them:

...Since the economy is stronger now than it was in 2001, and good economic times typically are hard times for military recruiters, a 36 percent increase in the proportion of young people willing to consider enlisting since the war on terror began says something good about our young people that Burns, apparently, is not eager to have you hear.

Burns notes with alarm that the proportion of young people who cite fear of combat as a reason for not joining the military nearly doubled (from 14 to 26 percent) between 2000 and 2004. He quoted the study again: "In the past, barriers were about inconvenience or preference for another life choice. Now they have switched to something quite different: fear of death or injury."

But is it all that astonishing that fear of death would be a bigger consideration during time of war than it is during peacetime?

Money for college was the principal reason young people gave for a willingness to enlist, followed by "duty."

Proportionately more blacks and women enlist for the economic benefits, while a higher proportion of white males give duty as a reason for joining up.

So blacks and women who enlisted primarily for the benefits are being replaced by white males who enlist primarily to serve their country. That's not such a bad thing...
Posted by John Weidner at March 20, 2005 11:27 AM
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