A Self-Study Course for Counter-recruiting Activists

Counter-recruitment refers to activity opposing military recruitment, in some or all of its forms. Among the methods used are research, consciousness-raising, political advocacy and direct action. Most such activity is a response to recruitment by state armed forces, but may also target intelligence agencies, private military companies, and non-state armed groups.


In the United States

Counter-recruiting by Raging Grannies in California in 2005
Counter-recruiting by Raging Grannies in California in 2005

Counter-recruitment (which has long been a strategy of pacifist and other anti-war groups) received a boost in the United States with the unpopularity of the war in Iraq and brief recruitment difficulties of branches of the U.S. military, particularly the Army; although the Army has met, or exceeded, its recruitment goals year after year during that period. Beginning in early 2005, the U.S. counter-recruitment movement grew, particularly on high school and college campuses, where it is often led by students who see themselves as targeted for military service in a war they do not support.




Early history

The counter-recruitment movement was the successor to the anti-draft movement with the end of conscription in the United States in 1973, just after the end of the Vietnam War. The military increased its recruiting efforts, with the total number of recruiters, recruiting stations, and dollars spent on recruiting each more than doubling between 1971 and 1974.[16] Anti-war and anti-draft activists responded with a number of initiatives, using tactics similar to those used by counter-recruiters today. Activists distributed leaflets to students, publicly debated recruiters, and used equal-access provisions to obtain space next to recruiters to dispute their claims. The American Friends Service Committee (A.F.S.C.) and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (C.C.C.O.) began publishing counter-recruitment literature and attempting to coordinate the movement nationally. These organizations have been continuously involved in counter-recruitment to the present day.[17]


High schools

Most counter-recruitment work in the U.S. is focused at the policy level of public school systems. This work is generally done by parents and grandparents of school-aged children, and the most common activity is information and advocacy with school officials (principals, school boards, etc.) and with the general population in their local school area. CR at the K12 level is categorically different from other movements, since most of the students are underaged minors and parents are their legal custodians and guardians, not the schools.

The most common policy goal is that the frequency of military recruiters' visits to public schools, their locations in schools, and their types of activities be controlled rather than unlimited. Many of the larger urban school districts have implemented such guidelines since 2001.

Other goals have included "truth in recruiting", that counselors or curriculum elements be implemented to address the deficiency in high school students' understanding of war and the military life, rather than allowing military recruiters to perform that role.

On high school campuses, counter-recruitment activists since 2001 have also focused around a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires that high schools provide contact and other information to the military for all of their students who do not opt out.

Counter-recruitment campaigns have attempted to change school policy to ban recruiters regardless of the loss of federal funds, to be active about informing students of their ability to opt out, and/or to allow counter-recruiters access to students equal to the access given to military recruiters. These political campaigns have had some success, particularly in the Los Angeles area, where one has been led by the Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools, and the San Francisco Bay Area. A simpler and easier, though perhaps less effective, strategy by counter-recruiters has been to show up before or after the school day and provide students entering or exiting their school with opt-out forms, produced by the local school district or by a sympathetic national legal organization such as the American Civil Liberties Union or the National Lawyers Guild.

Organizations which have attempted to organize such campaigns on a national scale include A.F.S.C. and C.C.C.O., the Campus Antiwar Network (C.A.N.), and the War Resisters League. Code Pink, with the Ruckus Society, has sponsored training camps on counter-recruitment as well as producing informational literature for use by counter-recruiters. United for Peace and Justice has counter-recruitment as one of its seven issue-specific campaigns. Mennonite Central Committee[18] is another resource on the subject. Some of these organizations focus on counter-recruitment in a specific sector, such as high schools or colleges, while the National network Opposing the Militarization of Youth,[19] founded in 2004, deals with the larger issue of militarism as it affects young people and society.

We have had a number of inquiries from people who want to do counter-recruiting, but don’t know how to get trained and get started. There needs to be organized counter-recruiting training sessions; but we are not aware of any formal program for this – yet. In the meantime, we have assembled below a provisional "self-study" course for those who want to get involved in counter-recruiting. - Source Wikipedia

NOTE: The information on this page is from a source from 2007 and much of the current resource links have changed though much of the pratice information basics still apply. Do your own research to back up the information presented here by researching the web for up-to-date version. - NNOMY

Here is the outline:

If possible find some other sympathetic folks to work with you on this; you can encourage each other, and share the workload.




Send for some recruiting information, for background. You can order it at this website, military.com (archived).

(You'll need to submit your address to get some of this information, but if recruiters call, just tell them you're doing research and aren't interested or are too old.) Once you get into that site, you can find this page, which has lots of recruiting propaganda.  Get familiar with this page and the material. Keep in mind that you can't take all of this data at face value; but it shows what recruits will see and hear.

You'll also get some recruiting material in the mail. Look it over, and keep it in a folder for reference.

2. Also go to this page to see and print out a copy of the army enlistment contract (archived) ; you'll need the Adobe Acrobat reader to see it. Save this form too.

Once you're familiar with the recruiting pitch (or while you're waiting for the material to arrive), look at these counter-recruiting (CR) resources, also online:

When you feel ready, take your materials and call a local high school (By now you'll know that the recruiters target "non-elite" schools, in less than affluent areas) and ask about when the recruiters will be there. Then ask to be able to set up a table for your material. I suggest taking a "consumer information" slant about this, indicating that you have some information the kids might not otherwise have, rather than an overtly anti-military perspective (school administrators are generally scared of such).

Better yet, find someone else to go with you.

If a school administrator resists letting you in -- which often happens -- don't give up. Here is one account (archived) of how some Vets for Peace dealt with such resistance in one case:
(NOTE: this report also shows how a "consumer information" approach will be less threatening to school officials.)

But be persistent. You have the law on your side: if the school lets recruiters in, they are obliged to let you in too. Here is a sample letter (archived) from an attorney making this clear:

By this time, you'll be ready, even if you still have butterflies and uncertainty. And once you get going, don't get discouraged. The military has a much larger budget and many more recruiters (at the moment) than we do; but you (and we) have truth on our side. With determination and a positive attitude, that should be enough.

Quaker House of Fayetteville has been a front-line peace project since 1969. For more information, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, write to Quaker House[1] at:223 Hillside Ave., Fayetteville NC 28301.

Please copy, post and distribute this FAQ freely.

 Source: http://quakerhouse.org/truth-in-recruiting-02.htm (archived)




Revised: 11/07/2023 - GDG