Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Army plans to up recruitment in liberal cities, Sacramento included

The Army fell 6,500 soldiers short of its nationwide recruitment goal in 2018, the first time it has done so in the past 13 years. The New York Times attributes the shortfall to two primary factors: a hot job market that lures potential recruits away from enlistment, and a shrinking pool of eligible recruits due to drug use or poor physical fitness. Despite these challenges, the Army hopes a new strategy will attract enough recruits to meet its 2019 goal.

While the Army has traditionally relied on conservative regions to fill its ranks, instead, it plans to turn its focus to liberal-leaning cities where enlistment has been scarce. The 22 cities the Army intends to target include Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles. However, if the Army is worried about hot job markets, it will face the greatest challenges in these places since all are listed in the top 10 best cities for job seekers in 2018. Recruiters will be up against the Bay Area's 4-million-job economy, Seattle's $16 per hour minimum wage, and Sacramento's low cost of living and projected growth. Annual salaries of $19,660 for active duty soldiers are unlikely to entice residents to enlist in places like these where high paying jobs are plentiful.

The Army hopes that its new pitch will prove attractive to liberals despite the low wages. In the past, the Army played down combat and emphasized job training, but this approach only works when civilian opportunities are scarce. Instead, it now plans to depict enlistment as a sort of gap year
The Army wants to frame enlistment as a patriotic detour for motivated young adults who might otherwise be bound for a corporate cubicle — a detour that promises a chance for public service, travel and adventure.
In left-leaning cities, however, a promise of "patriotic detour" is unlikely to land with liberal students who oppose the federal government's discriminatory military policies. One commenter on The New York Times's article posits that the current administration will deter potential recruits:
With our current Commander in Chief who doesn't respect human life or sacrifice, one would be foolish and almost unpatriotic to enlist while he is the [President of the United States].
Many people consider the Army to be synonymous to the Trump Party, a commenter from Connecticut suggests:
The Army might think of no longer allowing Republican politicians to use troops as political props for right-wing rallies and giving the public impression that the Army is merely a subsidiary of the Trumpist Republican Party.
Accordingly, the Army might have better luck recruiting from conservative areas. As a commenter from New England suggests, enlistment may prove more popular among white working class youths:
In his memoir Hillbilly Elegy, JD Vance spoke eloquently about how his time in the Marines jolted him out of his dead-end Appalachian experience.
Wouldn't it be great if Vance could go on tour to extol the virtues of military service to young people, especially folks who share his socioeconomic background?
I'm not suggesting that only low income kids should serve.  But I do think that rural, economically disadvantaged white youth might be more inclined that higher income young people to sign up. And their hometowns and families would benefit from them doing something productive rather than languishing.
Here in Sacramento, I doubt many young people will be inclined to enlist in the Army while Donald Trump is President. I too find that enlistment would be unpatriotic under the current Commander in Chief—who has threatened to use military force against immigrant families attempting to enter the United States (among other outlandish things).

Most law students I know have expressed distain for the current administration and are reluctant to participate in government associated activities. For example, after Trump's election, friends of mine pulled out of the UCDC Law Program which places students in Washington, D.C. externships for a semester. And students were less inclined to attend Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG Corps) presentations on campus. Even the Dean of UC Davis Law School, Kevin R. Johnson, emailed students the following statement regarding military recruitment on campus:
On August 25, 2017, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to prohibit the accession of transgender individuals into the United States military.
[. . .] 
 Despite AALS By-Law 6-3(b) and Law School policy, federal law . . . requires UC Davis School of Law to allow the military to use our facilities for recruiting law students. Although mandated by law to do so, the School of Law strongly condemns the U.S. military's decision to limit the ability of transgender people to serve in the U.S. armed forces. UC Davis students who have served, are serving, and wish to serve in the military have earned our deep and enduring respect. We firmly believe that this opportunity should be available to all, regardless of their gender identity or expression. 
UC Davis School of Law provides its non-discrimination policy to every employer­ including military employers-when they sign up to conduct on-campus interviews. We prominently post our non-discrimination statement when employers visit campus, which is designed to remind all employers of its terms. We will continue to enforce our non­discrimination policy with all non-military recruiters. We urge the federal government to end its discrimination against transgendered persons.
If the Army desires to recruit liberal soldiers, I believe it needs a lot more than a new recruitment strategy—it needs an entire rebranding. The military is currently associated with discrimination, the right-wing extremist federal government, and Donald Trump—the three least attractive things to many liberal youths. Without any major changes, I suspect the Army's numbers will continue to decline.

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