Monday, October 17, 2005

Hut Left Right, Or If You Only Have One Leg, Hut Left Left

When we wrote before about the Army's difficulty recruiting fodder for their cannons, we weren't aware that they had a strategy to convince young men and women that violent dismemberment and death is a career option.

The Army has a master plan for recovering from this year's recruiting problems that includes new financial incentives for enlistees, greater use of computers, a new way for recruiters to make their pitch and a proposed finder's fee for soldiers who refer recruits.

Finder's fees? Not a good time to be male, homeless and sleeping out in the open.

Opinion surveys indicate that daily reports of soldiers dying in Iraq have dampened young people's interest in joining the military.

We needed an opinion survey for that? Wonder if the Bush administration paid for it. Nah. Nothing in there about last throes.

The Army is encouraging combat veterans who return home on leave from Iraq or Afghanistan to meet with young people in their home towns to talk about their experiences. Now, let's think this one through. Vets come home (hopefully with all their body parts) and they're supposed to sell kids on the benefits of fighting in a country we don't understand for a cause that changes daily?


Parts of this new strategy were put into practice several months ago; others await congressional approval. Raymond DuBois, acting undersecretary of the Army said, "We got the go ahead to incentives to lure recruits, but that whole impressment thing is still hung up in committee.

Recruiters are now being trained to take what some call the "consultative" approach. That means addressing the individual recruits' personal hopes and fears, rather than using the traditional hard sell. "that's turning out to be a bit problematic, " said DuBois. "When their concern is getting an arm or a leg blown off our recruiters are having a hard time putting a positive spin on that."

The Army has put more effort into recruiting people who have begun their college careers but not yet earned a degree, on the assumption that some would be interested in taking a hiatus to try military service. "We catch them right after math midterms," DuBois said. "This is turning out to be one of our most effective techniques."

Also, the Army will target those of high school age who are being home schooled - a potential market the Army has largely ignored. "Now there's a potentially lucrative market for us," DuBois explained. "Those kids are used to not thinking and following orders. Plus they're totally clueless about what's going on in the world."

Using mathematical formulas based in part on demographics, a recruiter can more easily prioritize his or her high-payoff leads and thus become more productive. "well, it's not that complicated of a formula really," DuBois said. "Poor and ethnic, that'll get our attention right away."

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