Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Press Gang Punked
May 25, 2005 12:43 PM   Subscribe

We really want you in the Army. Not all citizen journalism happens in blogs, folks. A 15-year-old with a couple of cameras and a sister caught the Army willing to bend both laws and ethics in order to get him enlisted. (Military recruitment previously discussed here, as well as other places that I'm too lazy to search for).
posted by klangklangston (45 comments total)

 
What exactly is a drug detox kit entail?
posted by mathowie at 12:57 PM on May 25, 2005


. . .as well as other places that I'm too lazy to search for

GYOBFW.
posted by mlis at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2005


Wow, sharp kid. Got it all on tape and video. Amazing.

Guess those extended tours and Ready Reserve callups aren't enough huh?

I wouldn't be too scared of stoners with rifles, really.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2005


That's a great link.
There is still hope for journalism in America.
posted by digaman at 1:04 PM on May 25, 2005


This kid rules. Though I think he's actually 17 - the 15 yr old in the story is his friend who ran the camcorder. Small detail.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2005


Matt: I'd assume some pee cleaner, maybe a fake cock and fake urine...
(Y'know, someone should start selling clean urine in medical bags for stoners... I think the problem is that everyone who's ever had that idea can't possibly provide the clean urine).
posted by klangklangston at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2005


Wow. That's excellent journalism.
posted by unreason at 1:07 PM on May 25, 2005


This reminds me of the fact that my Marine recruiter, back in 1987 when I was just 17, bought me a 12-pack of beer because I did so well on the ASVAB. Not a big deal, really, but still quite definitely illegal.
posted by greasepig at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2005


Thanks, klang, hadn't seen this on CNN, my local news or in my local newspaper either.
posted by fixedgear at 1:12 PM on May 25, 2005


I could have sworn this was a double. But its a good story about just how desperate recruiters are becoming in the face of quotas and an ever less interested population to coerce into service.
posted by fenriq at 1:12 PM on May 25, 2005


GYOBFW?
posted by iron chef morimoto at 1:13 PM on May 25, 2005


[...] thinks recruiters, including the two he exposed, are overwhelmed by pressure to make monthly quotas.

"I feel bad they're taking the fall. It's their bosses who are telling them to do this. The job is impossible when you have a war going on," he said.


Good kid. This 17 year-old seems to understand "chain of command" better than those he was exposing.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2005


KlangKlangston: You can buy clean urine online here.
posted by sexymofo at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2005


I almost posted this here when I first read about it, but I couldn't find a quality story online. This Rocky Mountain News article is nice.

It is a little disconcerting that this kid is doing more aggressive investigative journalism than any of our major newspapers or broadcast news organizations. We had a related discussion here.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:19 PM on May 25, 2005


There is hope for democracy....
posted by mygoditsbob at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2005


Like Civil Disobedient, I was really impressed by McShane's empathy for his recruiters. Unfortunately, his unwillingness to take cheap potshots immediately disqualifies him for public office in the US.
posted by hellx at 1:28 PM on May 25, 2005


Metafilter: Clean Urine Online.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:39 PM on May 25, 2005


Wow. I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I can't.

GYOBFW?
Get Your Own Blog, FuckWit

What exactly is a drug detox kit entail?
Herbs and such that will supposedly detox your system. They don't work: there's nothing that will get THC out of your system before it's ready to go.

posted by Specklet at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2005


This is not really news... when I attempted to enlist as an army medic/psych tech in 1969 (in order to avoid getting drafted and ending up infantry) I was told that I couldn't because I had a wife and dependent (ironically i couldn't enlist but I could be drafted, go figure). The recruiter encouraged me to lie on the enlistment paperwork and say I was single. This, of course, would have resulted in my wife and son getting absolutely no benefits, dependent health care, insurance, etc.....

This kind of crap will go on forever, you can bet your ass that the re-training they are getting isn't about being ethical, it's about not getting caught!
posted by HuronBob at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2005


There is still hope for journalism in America.

Except a kid that smart will realize a journalism degree results in about the lowest-paying job you can get out of college, and will instead opt for law school.
posted by blendor at 1:55 PM on May 25, 2005


In the UK at least I am aware that they are letting in applicants for the army who have tested positive for drugs. My housemate just joined up and was smoking up until three days before his medical. He was advised that he would be allowed in as long as he "didn't make a habit of it."
posted by longbaugh at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2005


what i want to know is , where are all the our friends here on meta(you know who you are) that should be by all rights calling this kid names and explaining , why the recruiting technique is fine? i mean come on guys you're slacking here. all the praise for this kid is to one sided , let us consider the other side of the argument. no?

here , here, i'm gonna do one now.

neo-none: well i just think this goes to show how hard the military is working to get the job done, if a 17 year old wants to go kill for uncle sam who are you to stop them.
its just like the liberal high schoolers,
to twist this story into something "bad". . . go warmongers!
posted by nola at 2:27 PM on May 25, 2005


This kid rules. Though I think he's actually 17 - the 15 yr old in the story is his friend who ran the camcorder. Small detail.

Not a small detail, it's a bit misleading. 17 is a lot closer to 18 than 15 is. Of course reading the article clears that up.
posted by tomplus2 at 2:27 PM on May 25, 2005


I disagree HuronBob, this may not be new but it is definitely news. Further, it should continue to be reported until the armed forces stop engaging in illegal/unethical recruiting.
posted by oddman at 2:47 PM on May 25, 2005


The detox kits actually DO work, in some cases. They dilute the urine to the point that the labs can't detect anything in it.

The lab will note on the report that no substances were found, but that the sample was very diluted.

(I don't know this from my own personal detoxing experience--I worked briefly as a probation officer.)
posted by Sheppagus at 2:59 PM on May 25, 2005


Good story. Kudos to the kid. I wonder if any journalists will be covering the inhouse training for the recruiters?

hellx writes "Unfortunately, his unwillingness to take cheap potshots immediately disqualifies him for public office in the US."

Heh.
posted by peacay at 3:46 PM on May 25, 2005


Well, I'll play devil's advocate and say that maybe the best place for a "drug addicted" high school dropout is the army. Better than the streets or jail, probably. And it would give him a chance to get some sort of skill, or whatever it is that the army offers. The chances of death or dismemberment are still relatively small in the army, and I've read somewhere that they're comparable to many other occupations one without a high school diploma would find themselves in.

That being said, this story does seem pretty ridiculous. How does this quota system work? Are the recruiters members of the military? What happens if they don't make their numbers? No bonus? Do they have to scrub the latrines or peel potatoes? Do they outsource in some areas?
posted by loquax at 3:59 PM on May 25, 2005


oddman... I guess i meant "not news" in the "not new" sense of the word... I never said it should be talked about...after all, i'm talking about it... eh?
posted by HuronBob at 4:04 PM on May 25, 2005


damn.. "should" equals "shouldn't"
posted by HuronBob at 4:05 PM on May 25, 2005


For more on recruiter sliminess, check out today's Doonesbury strip.
posted by ScottMorris at 4:43 PM on May 25, 2005


sharp kid. good for him and for journalism.
posted by Tlahtolli at 5:24 PM on May 25, 2005


Doesn't this qualify as a double post?

FWIW, here was a late-breaking bit o' recruiting egregiousness I posted back then...
posted by alumshubby at 7:09 PM on May 25, 2005


Ach. I searched for recruiters, recruitment, the kid's name and the URL. Due dillegence? Well, I did fuxxor the age...
posted by klangklangston at 9:04 PM on May 25, 2005


"Too bad they're taking the fall" "I'm still in high school. I want to have some fun"

Gosh, what a fine young man he is. Hope he moves on to busting up payday loan operations, used car dealerships, politicians, the mafia, spammers, ...

He passed the ASVAB to be eligible to enlist. BMT would have cured his drug problem.

As before, our pithy little Armed forces saved the world in 1917 and in 1944. So, for five years of idiocy let us paint it all bad with a big broad brush. Especially those recruiters, many of whom ARE ORDERED to become recruiters without choice. And if they miss quota, they get in trouble that civilians will never understand.

Jokes on recruiters are passe. I am sure many remember their own funny jokes on recruiters during and after high school. The actions of this young man have not helped anybody
posted by buzzman at 9:11 PM on May 25, 2005


Best part of the article? The "related advertising" link at the bottom of the page:

Get Your High School Degree Online From PCDI!

Get your high school degree today. Advance your career through online learning programs. Choose from more than 50 online options! Get free info now!
posted by full_stop at 9:33 PM on May 25, 2005


When the Army starts enlisting broken-down middle-aged skill-free wack-jobs like me I might just go. I hear they have a decent dental plan, and I've still never fired an M16.

But I'd want Quonsar to join up with me so we can hold hands as we gut-shoot our way through Iran in a pink paisley Humvee. "Born to be WI-I-I-ILD!"
posted by davy at 9:51 PM on May 25, 2005


well i just think this goes to show how hard the military is working to get the job done, if a 17 year old wants to go kill for uncle sam who are you to stop them.
its just like the liberal high schoolers,
to twist this story into something "bad". . . go warmongers!
posted by Witty at 5:59 AM on May 26, 2005


loquax - This is the way it worked in the Navy (I assume it's similar in the other services). Recruiters are all active duty sailors, although I am not certain exactly how they get chosen for the duty. The quotas they have are imposed from above, and if you don't meet quota more than once or twice in a 2 or 3 year tour, your performance evaluations WILL suffer.

Evaluations that do not paint you as 110% superb, cream of the cream of the crop and so forth WILL negatively affect your chances of promotion, in a substantial way. They also have a tendency to poison your local chain of command's attitude towards you, leading to further ugly reviews downstream. This can permanently derail your career, trapping you at a paygrade that will not allow you serve out your full career, and thus rob you of your pension and other military benefits.

So, as you can see, the penalties for not making your quotas can be far harsher than peeling potatoes and digging latrines.
posted by Irontom at 7:03 AM on May 26, 2005


our pithy little Armed forces saved the world in 1944

you're russian? cool! welcome to mefi.
posted by mr.marx at 7:22 AM on May 26, 2005


the penalties for not making your quotas can be far harsher than peeling potatoes and digging latrines.

I actually thought that punishment was bad enough. It seems very very strange to me that the Army would force soldiers to become recrutiers. Maybe this is not so. According to the United States Army Recruiting Command, recruiters must "volunteer" (and are subject to a long list of conditions).

The job description states:

As a recruiter, you must sell the Army on a person-to person level. To be successful, you must contact prospective enlistees and sell the Army. In many cases, an individual will have reasons for not wanting to enlist. You will need to use selling techniques, along with your knowledge of Army enlistment programs to persuade the individual that the Army can meet their personal needs. It may also be necessary for you to persuade an individual that the Army can meet their needs better than any of the other Armed Services. Additionally, you must match the individual's interests with career management fields needed by the Army. Most importantly, you will have to promote the Army with enthusiasm and recruit with integrity.

Oddly, it goes on to state that:

One of the biggest questions that will come to the mind of a soldier who has just been notified that he or she has been selected for recruiting duty is, “Can I make it on recruiting duty?” Soldiers’ anxieties are sometimes compounded by stories about disastrous things happening to recruiters who failed to meet their mission. It will be primarily up to you as to whether or not you will be successful. Since the success of USAREC depends upon your success, you will be provided with the necessary training and assistance to become a good recruiter. You determine how to best use the resources available to help you become successful.

...seemingly contradicting the earlier claim of a volunteer corps.

Either way, why on earth would they not outsource this job? In this golden age of specialization (and telemarketing), why are individual soldiers selling the army when you could have vast armies of commission-based sales reps doing it for you? I'd bet that even the online poker sites would be more effective. I'd be very interested to see a breakdown of the hiring technique used to get each new recruit, say, walk-up vs. ROTC vs. junior whatever vs. these press gangs.

Ah, more info via their FAQ:

A DA-selected Recruiter is an NCO whose branch has nominated him/her for duty as a recruiter. Each MOS branch is responsible for assigning soldiers and some of the assignments could be for special duty such as recruiter.
Volunteer Recruiters, on the other hand, know their battalion level assignment before attending recruiting school.

The average mission per recruiter across the command is 2 contracts per month. Again, this is an average. Without getting too specific, mission is distributed across the command according to DOD enlistments during previous years within specific zip codes. All of your training is geared towards prospecting for and processing at least 2 enlistments monthly. Also, you will be responsible for your market area, particularly at least one high school from which students may only join the Army through you.

USAREC has never used failure to make mission as a means to destroy a career. Does the Army ruin the career of an infantryman that cannot fire his weapon? No, training is increased so soldiers can reach the standard. However, a poor attitude or work ethic could hurt your career in USAREC. You must continually perform with a positive attitude regardless of mission success. A superb attitude and a good work ethic usually result in success as a recruiter.

posted by loquax at 8:37 AM on May 26, 2005


Hmmmm. Read that material with a *very* critical eye. Parse each and every sentence to pull out the real underlying meaning. They are trying to make a very difficult job sound attractive to people who may not have "volunteered" in the true meaning of the word.

Example:

"USAREC has never used failure to make mission as a means to destroy a career. Does the Army ruin the career of an infantryman that cannot fire his weapon? No, training is increased so soldiers can reach the standard." This is only partially true under the best possible interpretation. The Army can and does cashier people who cannot meet their standards every day of the year. How much additional training is given to any particular individual is beyond my knowledge.

This is immediately followed by "However, a poor attitude or work ethic could hurt your career in USAREC. " which gives a better window into the reality of military life, if you already have experience with military life. You can be labelled as having a "poor work ethic" if you fail to meet your assigned task, regardless of the reasons for your failure. It's considered inherently obvious that if you had a strong work ethic you could not have failed to accomplish the task.

There are more clues further above: "Soldiers’ anxieties are sometimes compounded by stories about disastrous things happening to recruiters who failed to meet their mission. It will be primarily up to you as to whether or not you will be successful."

Ask yourself why these horror stories exist - are they just random fantasies of grunts with too much time on their hands? Or might they have some basis in reality? The second line sentence is even better, because when you translate it to normal English, it's pretty revealing, i.e. "if you fail, it's your fault, not the Army's"
posted by Irontom at 9:14 AM on May 26, 2005


Oh I have no doubt you're right, I wasn't trying to say that their blurbs should be taken at face value. I'm just shocked that this is a function of actual soldiers in the 21st century. It's like rotating assembly line workers as a matter of policy into customer service or sales jobs to extol the virtue of the product. How does that make any sense? If this is the way the army has chosen to do things, it does not surprise me in the least that inappropriate recruitment techniques will be employed. It seems to me to be a breakdown in organization and a misunderstanding of core competencies rather than the work of insidious "army policy" in the bloodthirsty quest to throw more young men into war.
posted by loquax at 10:51 AM on May 26, 2005


I read that a Senator wants to bring Bill Maher up on charges of treason for saying that the Army missed their recruiting goal by 42% recently. Shoot, you'd think with all these enthusiastic, go-for-it recruiters they'd be over quota!
posted by tzikeh at 11:46 AM on May 26, 2005


Congressman Slams Maher Over Army Remark
"A congressman says comedian Bill Maher's comment that the U.S. military has already recruited all the 'low-lying fruit' is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the show. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., takes issue with remarks on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April. 'More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club,' Maher said. 'We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies.' Army Reserve Pfc. England was accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. 'I think it borders on treason,' Bachus said. 'In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country.' In a statement released Monday night, Maher defended his support for the American armed forces. 'Anyone who knows anything about my views and has watched my show knows that I have nothing but the highest regard for the men and women serving this country around the world,' Maher said in the statement." [Associated Press | May 23, 2005]
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on May 26, 2005


Bill Maher's response to Rep. Bachus at The Huffington Post.
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on May 26, 2005


« Older Longmire Does Romance Novels...  |  The BTC Pipeline... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments