Friday 21st of September 2018

recruitment recon

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In late May, the U.S. Air Force announced its intention to release an advanced video game simulation. The theory is that the game, if successful, will be an effective recruitment tool among high school students.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the U.S. Army already did the exact same thing with a game called “America’s Army,” launched in 2002. That one was for a while relatively popular, but as a recruitment tool there’s little doubt it failed. Indeed, it was panned early and often for claiming to offer a realistic soldiering experience while glamorizing it as an exciting and largely consequence-free adventure. The game, of course, never showed the tedium or the dark side of military service in conflict—but what proper recruitment propaganda ever does?

Not content to merely copy a failed program, the so-far untitled Air Force game seeks to combine the allure of video games with the Orwellian realities of modern “big data” applications that the government is so fond of. In this case, officials have suggested they are literally going to monitor players to spot particularly talented ones they can recruit.

Call it recruitment recon.

 

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/why-the-air-force-thinks...

unless you become a soldier for the empire...

 

Political editor Dr Martin Hirst has been musing on recent political news while re-reading Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. His outlook is bleak.


I’m doing a course at my local TAFE this year; it’s a mixed group. I’m one of three oldies (I’d describe myself as a late baby boomer). Apart from a couple of students in their mid 20s, the rest of the group are all in their late teens. We had a discussion this week about what constitutes the zeitgeist — the “spirit of the Age”.

Some of the responses from the millennials in the class got me thinking. In part, I reflected on what I was like when I was 18; I also began to think about Thomas Hobbes and those famous lines from Leviathan about war of “all against all” and the bleak lives – “nasty brutish and short” – that some of us are forced to live.

I was reminded of these passages – from Chapter XIII, 'Of the natural condition of mankind' – by some of the fears and concerns expressed by millennial classmates.

For them, the overwhelming zeitgeist is fear. They are scared about the future that is facing them. More importantly, perhaps, they feel powerless to do anything about it.

They talked about how difficult it is for them to find work — even the precarious work of casual shifts in the hospitality or retail industries. They talked about feeling like they’d never be able to afford to buy a house, and their fear of global warming and the damage that we’re doing to the planet.

But most of all, they felt like they could do nothing about the problems confronting them.

I thought about it for a few days afterwards. Something was niggling me. I finally figured it out. For many millennials, it feels like they are being deliberately excluded from society and from decision-making.

Then it hit me: our whole political culture is built on exclusion and fear.

It is actually blindingly obvious.


A nation built on exclusion

The nation of Australia was built on exclusionary principles and these have dictated the political mood ever since.


The Indigenous Australians were deliberately excluded from the beginning of Australia. The ethos of colonial government was that Aboriginal Australians were a pest, to be wiped out, or at best segregated, herded into forced enclosures and left to starve.


This exclusion was codified in so many ways: by the system of religious missions; by the taking of children and incarcerating them in hellish conditions; by systematically ignoring the health, education and employment needs of whole communities, forcing them into enduring poverty.


For decades, Aboriginal people were excluded from most cities and towns by legal restraint, and by designated physical boundaries. Yes, there were actually roads that Aboriginal people could not cross by law.

Read more:

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/nasty-brutish...

 

 

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scraping the bottom of the barrel...


From Mark Perry, the author of The Most Dangerous Man In America and The Pentagon’s Wars. 

It’s not a secret: a surefire way for a presidential contender to get votes is to promise to increase the defense budget. It has worked for nearly every president since John Kennedy—and it worked for Donald Trump. Back in September 2016, candidate Trump promised he would not only increase the Pentagon’s budget, he would add more soldiers, sailors, and airmen (and women) to the military’s ranks.

In April, Trump followed up on his pledge by signing a defense bill that not only ended the spending caps, but called for an increase in the military’s size in 2018 by adding 20,000 new personnel—including 7,500 more soldiers, 4,000 more sailors, 1,000 new Marines, and 4,100 more airmen.

Senior military officers, and particularly Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley, celebrated the increase. Since becoming his service’s senior officer, Milley has argued that to meet its obligations, the Army will need 540,000 soldiers in its ranks by 2022, an increase of some 70,000 soldiers over four years. “It is not some arbitrary number,” Milley told a gathering of Army veterans back in August. “We have done the analysis. We need to be bigger, and we need to be stronger and more capable.”

Milley’s goal meant that the Army not only needed to find 17,500 new soldiers every year, it needed to find replacements for those who retire or leave the service every year—about 20 percent of the force. So it is that the Army set its 2018 recruiting goal at 80,000 soldiers. Initially, at least, Milley’s target seemed modest, reachable.

It wasn’t. 

In April, the Army revised that number—downwards. Instead of recruiting 80,000, it announced that it would recruit 76,500 new soldiers. But even that number might be too high, as the Army notes that it’s recruited only 28,000 in the first six months of the year. The problem, it seems, isn’t that young people don’t want to join the Army—or any of the services—it’s that they can’t. And therein lies a paradox: for while the U.S. military represents the best in America (as its most senior officers claim), it doesn’t actually represent America. For that to be true, two thirds of our military would have to consist of obese, under-educated former drug users and convicted criminals. 

Here’s the arithmetic: one in three potential recruits are disqualified from service because they’re overweight, one in four cannot meet minimal educational standards (a high school diploma or GED equivalent), and one in 10 have a criminal history. In plain terms, about 71 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds (the military’s target pool of potential recruits) are disqualified from the minute they enter a recruiting station: that’s 24 million out of 34 million Americans. The good news is that while the military takes pride in attracting those who are fit, educated, law abiding, and drug-free, they’re having difficulty finding them—manifestly because fewer of them actually exist. 

Then too, of the pool of remaining potential recruits, only one in eight actually want to join the military, and of that number, fully 30 percent of those who have the requisite high school diploma or GED equivalent fail to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the AFQT), which is used to determine math and reading skills. Tutoring companies produce sample tests and there’s an “AFQT for Dummies” on the shelves. Here’s a sample question: “Five workers earn $135/day. What is the total amount earned by the five workers?” Put more simply, the purpose of the AFQT isn’t to identify the most qualified, but to winnow out the illiterate, the 30 percent who can’t read, write, or count, despite their high school diplomas. 

That’s why the numbers are grim: “There are 30 some million 17 to 24 year-olds out there, but by the time you get all the way down to those that are qualified, you’re down to less than a million young Americans,” Marine Corps Major General Mark Brilakis says. In fact, Brilakis might be overestimating the number—if only one in eight of 10 million in this age group actually want to join the military, that leaves a pool of 1,250,000 potential recruits. If 30 percent of those can’t pass the AFQT, that number becomes 750,000. 

In addition to winnowing out recruits due to mental, physical, and social ineligibility, there’s a natural cap to the pool. There are, after all, perfectly good reasons why young Americans might not want to serve: the military is regimented, physically demanding, sometimes boring and often dangerous. “When you sign up for the military you don’t just sign up for a new job,” retired Colonel Kevin Benson, a West Point graduate and former director of the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, notes. “You’re really joining a new culture. It’s a way of life. Not surprisingly, when many potential recruits realize what they’re getting into they decide to do something else.” 

There are a number of possible solutions to the military’s recruiting crisis. The services could lower their eligibility requirements, assign more recruiters to focus on target populations, lower the numbers of military members the armed forces needs—or all three. But lowering standards is not in the cards. “The recruiting numbers look bad,” a retired Army senior officer admits, “but I think the glass is half full. None of the services have taken the easy way out by lowering recruiting standards, and the result is that we have a smarter military than we’ve ever had.” This retired officer (who requested anonymity as he is in a sensitive position in the private sector), cited the impact of a legendary West Point “tank study” of the 1980s that showed smarter tank gunners are actually more accurate tank gunners—that, in effect, smarter soldiers are better soldiers. It’s not simply that smarter recruits are more capable of operating sophisticated weapons systems (like the F-35); they’re better fighters, too, which is, after all, the whole point.

The services have responded to the recruiting crisis by recasting their recruiting strategies. The Navy’s new multimillion dollar “Forged by the sea” appeal is a dual promotion that focuses on what the Navy offers while telling “Gen Zers” what the Navy actually does—an important point, as it turns out, because, according to the ad firm that proposed the appeal, most young Americans don’t actually know. It’s a heavy lift: the Navy will have to retain its current numbers and add 11,400 sailors by 2019 and then increase that number again in order to fulfill the Trump administration’s plan to build a 355-ship fleet. The Air Force faces an even more daunting challenge: the service is 2,000 pilots short and, until recently, the numbers of its recruiters were historically low. It has increased retention bonuses, assigned additional recruiters (100 more this year), and reopened closed recruiting offices. But the tech-heavy service doesn’t just need increased numbers. It also needs more recruits for specific specialties: maintenance, cyber warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and nuclear experts—that is, recruits who don’t walk in off the street. 

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-recruitment-problem...

 

See also:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJVxQETW-YU

 

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