HAVING TROUBLE GETTING TROOPS?
By: Jim Moore
“The military’s desperation is showing,” writes syndicated columnist Robert Koehler. “None of the four branches is meeting recruitment goals as this brutal, unpopular war drags on, and the recruiters, who are under heavy pressure to snare two warm bodies a month for this lost cause, are getting outed in the media for appalling and illegal practices.”
Talk about a hard-up military.
And just what are some of these appalling and illegal techniques that our flag-waving recruiters are using? (Don’t read on if you anger easily.)
The wandering youngsters that these recruiters grab off the streets are told how they can get around drug-screening tests, and how to create fake high-school diplomas. What if the enlistee is overweight? No problem. He’s given laxatives and told not to mention it to his parents.
Some enlistees just disappear, not to be heard of until his parents get a phone call from their slo-mo son, who says he’s in the army now, but he doesn’t recall how he got here, and he’s allowed to talk on the phone for only one minute.
“We have to understand that one of the things that happens in war is, truth dies,” (surprise, surprise) says Ray Parrish, the Chicago counselor for Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
And indeed in wartime, truth does go AWOL.
For example, the recruiters (who need all the help they can get) do NOT tell the recruits of the Vietnam vets’ disillusionment, anger, and betrayal because they’re not getting the rights they were promised, and are entitled to.
They are also NOT telling their teen-age “targets” about PTSD (shell shock), high vet suicide rates, and Agent Orange a.k.a. depleted uranium, which created mental and physical casualties in Vietnam, and is now in ample supply in Iraq.
Small wonder that recruiters are having a tough time bagging even the most gullible for service.
But in all fairness, when calling your attention to such problems, reasonableness demands that I also offer a solution. What do I have for Army recruiters as a sure-fire way to boost enlistment? A solution right out of the pages of “Wooden Ships and Iron Men.”
What did the Royal Navy do to keep enough crews on their ships in the 18th century? They shanghaied them!
Press gangs were sent ashore to shanghai (kidnap) any and all strong young lads found wandering the streets, drinking in pubs, or even just passing through town.
Now, it is true that the shanghai recruitment technique has a few drawbacks. The “enlistees” were usually taken unaware and clubbed into insensibility. Then they were heaved into a foul-smelling holding pen until the ship put to sea. The ship’s doctor was called “Sawbones” because that’s what he did, without an aesthetic, by the way, except rum or grog made of gin, gunpowder, and water.
Voyages lasted 2 to 4 years. Most lads never saw their families again, and a large percentage of them died of neglect, beatings, crude amputations, or scurvy.
Now wait before you blow off the idea of recruiters shanghaiing enlistees, look at the whole picture. There aren’t enough men coming in to fill the ranks; recruiters have to use deceptive tactics to get enlistees. You can’t fight wars without replacing soldiers. No one benefits.
BUT if we let the press gangs in Washington shanghai the lads, ah, that’s a different story. No more time, money, and manpower wasted on “glad hand” recruiting. No more shortage of foot soldiers for Iraq and other campaigns in faraway places. No more poster soldiers, sailors, and marines. No more advertising, or phony enlistment gimmicks. No more enticements or re-enlistment bonuses.
And, as far as the new soldiers are concerned, what’s the difference whether they were lured into service or dragged in? Once they’re in is all that matters. At any rate, that’s that matters to the war-makers in Washington.
Finally, it answers the age-old question: “Suppose we gave a war and nobody came?” Never happen.
If we shanghai ‘em, they’ll all be there.
So pardon me while I burst into flames.
I\'ve had enough of the world and it\'s people\'s mindless games.
So pardon me while I burn, and rise above the flame. Pardon me, pardon me, I\'ll never be the same. -Brandon Boyd
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