NNOMY

Army boss’ mission: Persuade schools to welcome recruiters

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth is greeted at the Chicago Military Academy as she heads into meetings with young members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in Chicago, on Feb. 15, 2023. Army recruiters are struggling to meet enlistment goals, and they say one of their biggest hurdles is getting back into high schools so they can meet students one on one. During three days of back-to-back meetings across Chicago last month, Wormuth met with students, school leaders, college heads, recruiters and an array of young people involved in ROTC or JROTC programs. (AP Photo/Lolita Baldor) 1 of 3 Army Secretary Christine Wormuth is greeted at the Chicago Military Academy as she heads into meetings with young members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in Chicago, on Feb. 15, 2023. Army recruiters are struggling to meet enlistment goals, and they say one of their biggest hurdles is getting back into high schools so they can meet students one on one. During three days of back-to-back meetings across Chicago last month, Wormuth met with students, school leaders, college heads, recruiters and an array of young people involved in ROTC or JROTC programs. (AP Photo/Lolita Baldor)March 5, 2023 / Lolita C. Baldor / AP News -  Army recruiters struggling to meet enlistment goals say one of their biggest hurdles is getting into high schools, where they can meet students one on one. But they received a recent boost from a recruiting advocate whom school leaders couldn’t turn away: the secretary of the Army.

During three days of back-to-back meetings across Chicago last month, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth spoke with students, school leaders, college heads, recruiters and an array of young people involved in ROTC or junior ROTC programs. Again and again, she asked, what can the Army do to better reach young people and sell itself as a good career choice.

In blunt sessions, recruiting leaders told her they need more and better access to high school students. But they also said the atmosphere can at times be unfriendly — or worse — with school leaders, many of whom are skeptical that the Army offers a good career option for their students. “I’m going to use the word hostile,” one recruiter told her. “There’s no other word to use.”

It’s not unusual for the Army’s top civilian to travel the country, pitching the Army message and checking in on recruiting progress. But the Chicago trip came on the heels of the Army’s worst recruiting year in recent history, when it fell 25% short of its 60,000 enlistment goal. It’s up to Wormuth and other Army leaders to find creative new ways to attract recruits and ensure that the service has the troops it needs to help defend the nation.

All the military services are strugging to compete for young people in a tight job market where private companies are often willing to provide better pay and benefits. Two years of the coronavirus pandemic shut down recruiters’ access to public events and schools where they could find prospects. And, according to estimates, just 23% of young people can meet the military’s fitness, educational and moral requirements, with many disqualified for reasons ranging from medical issues to criminal records and tattoos.

Army leaders say their surveys show that young people don’t see the Army as a prime career choice, often because they don’t want to die or get injured, deal with the stress of military life or put their lives on hold.

Freshman JROTC enrollment plunges after overhaul by Chicago Public Schools

JROTC enrollment in eight CPS high schools has dropped by 67% since the 2020-21 school year. Brigadier General Rodney Boyd poses with JROTC members at the Veterans Day Ceremony at Soldier Field on Nov. 11, 2022.  Brian Rich/Sun-Times fileJan 5, 2023 / Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Sun Times - Freshman enrollment in a controversial military-run training program plummeted this academic year at some Chicago high schools after district leaders cracked down on schools that were effectively forcing first-year students to participate, according to a report from the district’s watchdog released Thursday. 

Chicago Public Schools pledged last spring to end automatic enrollment in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, a daily class on military science and leadership taught by retired military officers. 

The move followed an investigation by the district’s Office of Inspector General, which found that nearly all freshmen at some South and West Side schools were placed in the program “without any choice in the matter,” often as a substitute for gym. Some principals told the OIG they lacked the money to hire enough physical education teachers to offer PE to all students. 

The OIG probe was prompted by a Chalkbeat investigation in 2021 that revealed that hundreds of students at 10 predominantly Black and Latino high schools were being enrolled in JROTC by default. The practice drew backlash from some parents who described it as a way of shepherding teens from under-resourced schools toward military careers and away from other opportunities. 

In its annual report, the OIG found freshman enrollment in JROTC had decreased “dramatically” at eight schools where automatic freshman enrollment was most widespread. Enrollment fell from 639 to 211 between the 2020-21 school year and the current school year. 

One principal said this is the first year in which freshmen can decide between physical education or JROTC.

AI Explains About Opposition to JROTC

JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, a program that is designed to provide high school students with leadership skills and prepare them for a possible future career in the military. While some people support JROTC, others are opposed to it for various reasons.

One of the primary reasons why people oppose JROTC is because they believe that it glorifies war and violence. They argue that the program encourages young people to view military service as the only viable career option, rather than pursuing other paths such as higher education or vocational training.

Others object to JROTC because they believe that it promotes militarism and nationalism. They argue that the program instills a sense of blind patriotism in young people, rather than fostering critical thinking skills and independent thought.

Some critics of JROTC also argue that the program is discriminatory, particularly against students who are LGBTQ or who hold pacifist beliefs. They point to instances where JROTC instructors have made homophobic or sexist remarks or where students have been punished for refusing to participate in certain activities.

Finally, opponents of JROTC argue that the program diverts funding and resources away from other important areas of education. They point to instances where schools have cut funding for music, art, or language programs in order to make room for JROTC.

Overall, opposition to JROTC is rooted in concerns about militarism, nationalism, discrimination, and the allocation of resources within the education system.

Our Children Are Experiencing Militarization of the US Up Close and Personally

A child waves from the back of a jeep with an M60 during a Veterans Day parade in Reno, Nevada, on November 11, 2022. Ty O'Neil / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty ImagesFebruary 23, 2023 / Andrea Mazzarino / Truthout -  During a Veterans Day celebration in my small Maryland community, a teacher clicked through a slideshow of smiling men and women in military uniforms. “Girls and boys, can anyone tell me what courage is?” she asked the crowd, mostly children from local elementary schools, including my two young kids.

A boy raised his hand. “Not being scared?” he asked.

The teacher seized on his response: “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Not being scared.” She proceeded to discuss this country’s armed forces, highlighting how brave U.S. troops are because they fight to defend our way of life. Service-members and veterans in the crowd were encouraged to stand. My own children beamed, knowing that their father is just such a military officer. The veterans and troops present did indeed stand, but most of them stared at the ground. As a counselor who works with children, including those from local military families, I marveled that the teacher was asking the young audience to dismiss one of the most vulnerable emotions there is — fear — in the service of armed violence.

No mention was made of what war can do to those fighting it, not to speak of civilians caught in the crossfire, and how much money has left our country’s shores thanks to armed conflict. That’s especially true, given the scores of U.S.-led military operations still playing out globally as the Pentagon arms and trains local troops, runs intelligence operations, and conducts military exercises.

That week, my children and others in schools across the county spent hours in their classrooms celebrating Veterans Day through a range of activities meant to honor our armed forces. My kindergartener typically made a paper crown, with six colorful peaks for the six branches of service, that framed her little face. Kids in older grades wrote letters to soldiers thanking them for their service.

I have no doubt that if such schoolchildren were ever shown photos in class of what war actually does to kids their age, including of dead and wounded elementary school students and their parents and grandparents in Afghanistan and Iraq, there would be an uproar. And there would be another, of course, if they were told that “their” troops were more likely to be attacked (as in sexually assaulted) by one of their compatriots than by any imaginable enemy. I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, one of the most progressive and highly educated counties in the country and even here, war, American-style, is painted as a sanitized event full of muscular young people, their emotions under control (until, of course, they aren’t).

Even here, few parents and teachers dare talk to young children about the atrocities committed by our military in our wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

JROTC Is Preying on Poor Students

A recent string of revelations about abuses by the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps presents an opportunity to rein in the military’s presence and power in public schools.

The G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School Naval JROTC Unit cadets at the Miami Beach, Florida Veterans Day Parade, November 11, 2022. (Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images)01.08.2023 / Seth Kershner Scott Harding / Jacobin - The Pentagon’s signature program for instilling military values in American schools, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), has a long history dating to 1916. But it hasn’t endured such bad press since the 1970s. In several damning articles, the New York Times revealed the structure of what’s wrong with high school military training: instructors who use their positions to prey on teenage girls, in-school shooting ranges built with grants from the National Rifle Association, and mandatory enrollment in some of the nation’s largest school districts — all abetted by school officials who fail to adequately monitor a program of such dubious educational value that many instructors lack a college degree.

These revelations have vindicated those in the “counter-recruitment” movement who for years warned of a largely unsupervised program taught by retired military officers. It also raises serious questions about why military training programs have any place in US public high schools.

The Pentagon spends around $400 million annually to provide training in military drill and “leadership” through the JROTC in more than 3,500 high schools, to approximately five hundred thousand students. Despite this presence, the program seems to operate on the fringes, with school officials exercising scant oversight even as instructors take their young “cadets” on extended travel to military bases and interschool competitions. Such conditions foster an environment rife with potential abuse.

The Times identified at least thirty-three JROTC instructors who had been criminally charged with sexual misconduct with their students, and found evidence that numerous other instructors were accused but never charged. According to the education outlet Chalkbeat, Chicago’s head of school military instruction quietly resigned last summer, three years after failing to inform officials of suspected sexual abuse by a JROTC instructor who was later arrested.

Subcategories

The NNOMY Opinion section is a new feature of our articles section. Writing on youth demilitarization issues is quite rare but we have discovered the beginning articles and notes being offered on this subject so we have decided to present them under an opinion category.  The articles presented do not necessarily reflect the views of the NNOMY Steering Committee.

General David Petraeus' rocky first days as a lecturer at the City University of New York Though the United States of America shares with other nations in a history of modern state militarism, the past 65 years following its consolidation as a world military power after World War II, has seen a shift away from previous democratic characterizations of the state.  The last thirty years, with the rise of the neo-conservative Reagan and Bush administrations (2), began the abandonment of moral justifications for democracy building replaced by  bellicose proclamations of the need and right to move towards a national project of global security by preemptive military force .

In the process of global military expansion, the US population has been subjected to an internal re-education to accept the role of the U.S. as consolidating its hegemonic rule internationally in the interest of liberal ideals of wealth creation and protectionism.

The average citizen has slowly come to terms with a stealthly increasing campaign of militarization domestically in media offerings; from television, movies and scripted news networks to reinforce the inevitability of a re-configured society as security state. The effect has begun a transformation of how, as citizens, we undertand our roles and viability as workers and families in relation to this security state. This new order has brought with it a shrinking public common and an increasing privatization of publicly held infrustructure; libraries, health clinics, schools and the expectation of diminished social benefits for the poor and middle-class. The national borders are being militarized as are our domestic police forces in the name of Homeland Security but largely in the interest of business. The rate and expansion of research and development for security industries and the government agencies that fund them, now represent the major growth sector of the U.S.economy. Additionally, as the U.S. economy continually shifts from productive capital to financial capital as the engine of growth for wealth creation and development, the corporate culture has seen its fortunes rise politically and its power over the public sector grow relatively unchallenged by a confused citizenry who are watching their social security and jobs diminishing.

How increasing cultural militarization effects our common future will likely manifest in increased public dissatisfaction with political leadership and economic strictures. Social movements within the peace community, like NNOMY, will need to expand their role of addressing the dangers of  militarists predating youth for military recruitment in school to giving more visibility to the additional dangers of the role of an influential militarized media, violent entertainment and play offerings effecting our youth in formation and a general increase and influence of the military complex in all aspects of our lives. We are confronted with a demand for a greater awareness of the inter-relationships of militarism in the entire landscape of domestic U.S. society.  Where once we could ignore the impacts of U.S. military adventurisms abroad, we are now faced with the transformation of our domestic comfort zone with the impacts of militarism in our day to day lives.

How this warning can be imparted in a meaningful way by a movement seeking to continue with the stated goals of counter-recruitment and public policy activism, and not loose itself in the process, will be the test for those activists, past and future, who take up the call to protect our youth from the cultural violence of militarism.

The "militarization of US culture" category will be an archive of editorials and articles about the increasing dangers we face as a people from those who are invested in the business of war. This page will serve as a resource for the NNOMY community of activists and the movement they represent moving into the future. The arguments presented in this archive will offer important realizations for those who are receptive to NNOMY's message of protecting our youth, and thus our entire society, of the abuses militarism plays upon our hopes for a sustainable and truly democratic society.

NNOMY

 

The Resources section covers the following topics:

News reports from the groups associated to the NNOMY Network including Social Media.

Reports from counter-recruitment groups and activists from the field. Includes information about action reports at recruiting centers and career fairs, school tabling, and actions in relation to school boards and state legislatures.

David SwansonDavid Swanson is the author of the new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, by Seven Stories Press and of the introduction to The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush by Dennis Kucinich. In addition to cofounding AfterDowningStreet.org, he is the Washington director of Democrats.com and sits on the boards of a number of progressive organizations in Washington, DC.


Charlottesville Right Now: 11-10-11 David Swanson
David Swanson joins Coy to discuss Occupy Charlottesville, protesting Dick Cheney's visit to the University of Virginia, and his new book. -  Listen

Jorge MariscalJorge Mariscal is the grandson of Mexican immigrants and the son of a U.S. Marine who fought in World War II. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego.

Matt GuynnMatt Guynn plays the dual role of program director and coordinator for congregational organizing for On Earth Peace, building peace and nonviolence leadership within the 1000+ congregations of the Church of the Brethren across the United States and Puerto Rico. He previously served a co-coordinator of training for Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving as an unarmed accompanier with political refugees in Chiapas, Mexico, and offering or supporting trainings in the US and Mexico.

Rick JahnkowRick Jahnkow works for two San Diego-based anti-militarist organizations, the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities and the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pat ElderPat Elder was a co-founder of the DC Antiwar Network (DAWN) and a member of the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, (NNOMY).  Pat is currently involved in a national campaign with the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom project, Military Poisons,  investigating on U.S. military base contamination domestically and internationally.  Pat’s work has prominently appeared in NSA documents tracking domestic peace groups.

 

All Documents:

Pat Elder - National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth

NNOMY periodically participates in or organizes events(e.i. conferences, rallies) with other organizations.

The Counter-recruitment Essentials section of the NNOMY web site covers the issues and actions spanning this type of activism. Bridging the difficult chasms between religious, veteran, educator, student, and community based activism is no small task. In this section you will find information on how to engage in CR activism in your school and community with the support of the knowledge of others who have been working to inform youth considering enlisting in the military. You will also find resources for those already in the military that are looking for some guidance on how to actively resist injustices  as a soldier or how to choose a path as a conscientious objector.

John Judge was a co-founder of the Committee for High School Options and Information on Careers, Education and Self-Improvement (CHOICES) in Washington DC, an organization engaged since 1985 in countering military recruitment in DC area high schools and educating young people about their options with regard to the military. Beginning with the war in Viet Nam, Judge was a life-long anti-war activist and tireless supporter of active-duty soldiers and veterans.

 

"It is our view that military enlistment puts youth, especially African American youth, at special risk, not only for combat duty, injury and fatality, but for military discipline and less than honorable discharge, which can ruin their chances for employment once they get out. There are other options available to them."


In the 1970's the Selective Service System and the paper draft became unworkable, requiring four induction orders to get one report. Boards  were under siege by anti-war and anti-draft forces, resistance of many kinds was rampant. The lottery system failed to dampen the dissent, since people who knew they were going to be drafted ahead of time became all the more active. Local draft board members quit in such numbers that even I was approached, as a knowledgeable draft counselor to join the board. I refused on the grounds that I could never vote anyone 1-A or eligible to go since I opposed conscription and the war.

At this point the Pentagon decided to replace the paper draft with a poverty draft, based on economic incentive and coercion. It has been working since then to draw in between 200-400,000 enlisted members annually. Soon after, they began to recruit larger numbers of women to "do the jobs men don't want to". Currently recruitment quotas are falling short, especially in Black communities, and reluctant parents are seen as part of the problem. The hidden problem is retention, since the military would have quadrupled by this time at that rate of enlistment, but the percentage who never finish their first time of enlistment drop out at a staggering rate.

I began bringing veterans of the Vietnam War into high schools in Dayton, Ohio in the late 1960s, and have continued since then to expose young people to the realities of military life, the recruiters' false claims and the risks in combat or out. I did it first through Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organization, then Dayton Draft & Military Counseling, and since 1985 in DC through C.H.O.I.C.E.S.

The key is to address the broader issues of militarization of the schools and privacy rights for students in community forums and at meetings of the school board and city council. Good counter-recruitment also provides alternatives in the civilian sector to help the poor and people of color, who are the first targets of the poverty draft, to find ways to break into the job market, go to a trade school, join an apprenticeship program, get job skills and placement help, and find money for college without enlisting in the military.

John Judge -- counselor, C.H.O.I.C.E.S.
 
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