Military Recruiting in the United States

Military Recruiting in the United States provides a fearless and penetrating description of the deceptive practices of the U.S. military as it recruits American youth into the armed forces. Long-time antiwar activist Pat Elder exposes the underworld of American military recruiting in this explosive and consequential book. The book describes how recruiters manage to convince youth to enlist. It details a sophisticated psy-ops campaign directed at children. Elder describes how the military encourages first-person shooter games and places firearms into the hands of thousands using the schools, its JROTC programs, and the Civilian Marksmanship Program to inculcate youth with a reverence for guns. Previously unpublished investigative work reveals how indoor shooting ranges in schools are threatening the health of children and school staff through exposure to lead particulate matter. The book provides a kind of “what’s coming next manual” for European peacemakers as they also confront a rising tide of militarism. The book examines the disturbing, nurturing role of the Catholic Church in recruiting youth. It surveys the wholesale military censorship of Hollywood films, pervasive military testing in the high schools, and an explosion of military programs directed toward youth. For more information, visit: or order the complete book on Amazon or direct from the author.


Pat Elder has long been in the forefront of protecting student privacy and student civil liberties.  Meticulously researched, his book will give students, families, educators, and advocates the tools to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to military recruitment and to defend their rights against overly-aggressive military recruiting. - Beth Haroules, Senior Staff Attorney, New York Civil Liberties Union



This eye-opening book presents us with a clear portrait of a poorly understood problem: the threat to our young people posed by aggressive and deceptive military recruiting. Then it hands us a top-of-the-line tool kit for remedying the situation and, oh by the way, in the process, putting an end to endless wars.   -  David Swanson, author of War is a Lie


"If our culture better understood the truths in this book, the GI Rights Hotline would get fewer calls from military personnel in crisis." - Bill Galvin, Counseling Coordinator, Center on Conscience & War and counselor and board member, the GI Rights Hotline

Download Complete Book as a PDF

Hollywood Pledges Allegiance to the Dollar

Pat Elder |  Counter-Recruit Press | November 2018

The Pentagon press briefing studio was filled to capacity as Butler — who plays the commander of the fictional attack sub USS Arkansas in the movie — answered questions about the experience.In July, 2015 the U.S. Army Chief of Public Affairs responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by releasing a massive 1,400-page list of movies and television shows his office had reviewed and influenced from 2010 to 2015.1 The list provides insight into the murky world of military censorship and sheds light on productions the Pentagon deems helpful to the recruiting effort.

The FOIA request was initiated by Tom Secker, a British-based writer who specializes in security services. The Army’s report may be found on Secker’s website, Within a few weeks of Secker’s receipt of the data, just a handful of websites had reported on the significant release, including Billboard, Alternet, Salon, Techdirt, and Center for Research and Globalization. No mainstream American newspapers or TV outlets picked up the intriguing story.

The Department of Defense has several offices dedicated to providing “assistance” for a wide variety of entertainment genres. Producers of every stripe who desire military assistance in the production of “feature motion pictures, television shows, documentaries, music videos, commercial advertisements, CD-ROM games, and other audiovisual programs” are directed to contact the military service being portrayed. The Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines operate liaison offices from four adjacent offices located on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles.2

Aside from fighting current wars and planning for new ones, the Pentagon spends a lot of time and energy viewing film. Recruiting-age youth increasingly rely on movies, television, YouTube and other video sources to inform and shape their world view. Some 45% of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one to two times a year if that often. The recruiting-age population watches video.3

The Pentagon recognizes that film and television deeply influence youth, and all of American society, so military minders regularly edit the scripts for thousands of productions, including “American Idol,” “The X-Factor,” “Masterchef,” “Cupcake Wars,” numerous Oprah Winfrey shows, “Ice Road Truckers,” “Battlefield Priests,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Hawaii Five-O,” lots of BBC, History Channel and National Geographic documentaries, “War Dogs,” “Big Kitchens”— the list goes on and on. Alongside these shows are blockbuster movies like Godzilla, Transformers, and Superman: Man of Steel.4

As unlikely as it sounds, the Air Force has worked with the producers of “Jeopardy,” “The Queen Latifah Show,” “The Wheel of Fortune,” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” When members of the Air Force appear on television, military minders review scripts before airing. The Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in Los Angeles (OCPA-LA) rates the productions. Although we’re familiar with films carrying ratings like G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17 from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Army also gives them ratings. They include:

  • Supports Building Resiliency,
  • Supports Restoring Balance,
  • Supports Maintaining Our Combat Edge,
  • Supports Adapting Our Institutions,
  • Supports Modernizing Our Force.5

The Army does not assign negative ratings; instead, it summarily rejects films that it doesn’t like. Rejection by OCPA deprives filmmakers of access to military bases, ships, training, maneuvers, etc. Rejection forces filmmakers wanting to tell a story involving the military to potentially spend additional millions in production costs, effectively eliminating low-budget filmmakers not content with toeing the line.

Most of the films on the OCPA-LA list eventually receive a thumbsup, many after an intensive back-and-forth editorial review process. Films are subsequently categorized, as above, by the way they best support the Army’s mission. Producers requesting DoD assistance submit their scripts to the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (OATSD-PA), which authorizes the Military Services to provide suggestions for changes. Refusal on the part of producers regarding any DoD edits results in a rejection of assistance.6

The OCPA-LA list of films obtained and released by Secker is prefaced by this disclaimer:

NOTICE: This report contains information on the development and progress of TV programs, feature films, and other entertainment-oriented and documentary media projects. This information is shared with the Army for the purpose of determining whether the project qualifies for Department of the Army and Department of Defense support. It is pre-decisional information for our Chain-of-Command. IT IS NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLIC DISSEMINATION. The information contained in this report, if publicly disclosed, could be financially and professionally detrimental to the entertainment media production entity or individual filmmaker(s) providing the information, and would deter these companies and individuals from seeking Army assistance.

It may be professionally embarrassing to some producers when the public discovers that the financial incentive of working with the DoD entails a substantial degree of restriction and suppression of intellectual independence.

The projects in the recently released OCPA-LA list were governed by the stringent guidelines contained in Defense Instruction 5410.15, dated March 28, 1989. Many productions since 1989 have been edited and subsequently approved with little regard for these guidelines. The release of the information pursuant to the FOIA request may have led the DoD to publish new instructions in an effort to avert embarrassment under the potential spotlight of public scrutiny. The new, more subjective guidelines were made public on July 31, 2015, just three weeks after the OCPA-LA files were released to Secker. The new instructions allow the DoD to approve pretty much anything for any reason and, more importantly, to reject projects using the same fuzzy criteria.

The old policy called for “accuracy in the portrayals of DoD persons, places, equipment, operations, and events.” The new policy calls for productions to present “a reasonably realistic depiction of the Military Services and the DoD, including Service members, civilian personnel, events, missions, assets, and policies.” Reasonably realistic to whom, using what criteria? Do the top brass military censors reject projects if they deem them to be unreasonably realistic? Would scripts based on books by Chalmers Johnson, Howard Zinn, or Noam Chomsky be considered unreasonably realistic? The question penetrates to the heart of the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech.”

The 1989 guidelines say there should be “no implication or appearance of implication of DoD endorsement or approval of any person, product, partisan or political cause,” but the new policy leaves all of this out. It omits words like endorsement, political, or partisan. Its purposeful vagueness untethers the Pentagon from these intellectual constraints.7

Filmmakers and Pentagon brass forge a mutually beneficial partnership. War is profitable to moviemakers and the military is eager to sell its version of it. While Hollywood producers demand access to military bases, ships, planes, and personnel, the Pentagon in return rewrites scripts to enhance the military image and safeguard recruiting and retention numbers. The American public subsidizes the military access provided to filmmakers and is fed the pabulum of homogenized military propaganda while free speech is trampled.

It’s like the sanitized version of events produced by embedded American journalists during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Those attempting to gather stories independently were shunned, discredited, and even murdered, like those killed in the US bombings of Aljazeera offices in Kabul in 2001 and in Baghdad in 2003.

By 2010, Reporters Without Borders had recorded the deaths of 230 Tareq Ayub was killed in the US bombing of Aljazeera’s offices in Baghdad media professionals, 87% of whom were Iraqis. Many of these deaths were caused by the US military and none have been prosecuted. The Pentagon issued a statement regarding the killing of journalists who were not embedded with US troops, “Baghdad is not a safe place. You should not be there.” 8

Moviemakers intent on portraying the military whose scripts don’t appeal to Army censors are at a great disadvantage. They’re forced to spend millions more than their compliant counterparts to tell their stories with the same degree of military feel. Many can’t endure the expense. A 2002 New York Times report drives home the point of financial benefits for those surrendering editorial control.

According to the article, “When Hollywood’s Big Guns Come Right from the Source,” the military “deployed” the following equipment during the filming of The Sum of All Fears, based on the 1991 Tom Clancy book about nuclear terrorism:

  • 2 B-2 bombers
  • 2 F-16 fighter jets
  • The National Airborne Operations Center, the highly secure communications aircraft, in a modified 747 jet, reserved for the president and his top staff in case of nuclear attack
  • 3 Marine Corps CH-53E helicopters
  • 1 UH-60 Army helicopter
  • 4 ground vehicles
  • 50 Marines and Army troops
  • The John Stennis, a 97,000-ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with more than 80 aircraft and a crew of 5,000
  • Access to the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Langley, VA

The total charge to Paramount Pictures for use of the equipment came to less than $1 million, a relatively tiny sum.9

Clancy sold the Pentagon’s line. His novels turned-to-film caused a cultural about-face after Vietnam, helping to portray the military in a positive light.

The Pentagon is making sure its ships, bombers, and helicopters will never be used to tell a different story. Truth continues to be a casualty in war-making.

The scale of the Pentagon’s intrusion and its micromanagement of entertainment projects is disturbing, although we’re still largely in the dark regarding the extent of the DOD’s editorial tinkering with specific productions in return for cooperation. Specific changes made to movie and TV scripts by the military’s public affairs offices are classified information today, whereas the material prior to 2002 has been declassified.10 Even so, Britain’s Mirror Online reported in July 2015:

To keep Pentagon chiefs happy, some Hollywood producers have turned villains into heroes, cut central characters, changed politically sensitive settings – or added military rescue scenes to movies. Having altered scripts to accommodate Pentagon requests, many have in exchange gained inexpensive access to military locations, vehicles and gear they need to make their films. 11

This Hollywood-military nexus is nothing new. When D. W. Griffith made the silent film The Birth of a Nation in 1915, West Point engineers gave him technical advice on his Civil War battle scenes and provided him with artillery. Griffith toed the editorial line.12

In his influential 2004 book, Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies, David Robb captures the legal argument that the military is practicing unconstitutional censorship. He writes:

Many legal experts, including famed First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams and renowned Constitutional law professor Irwin Chemerinsky, believe that this form of censorship is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. This sort of viewpoint-based discrimination by the government in which it favors one form of speech over another is flatly inconsistent with the First Amendment,” says Abrams, who was co-counsel to the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case.

Chemerinsky, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Southern California, agrees. The Supreme Court has said that above all, the First Amendment means that the government cannot participate in viewpoint discrimination, Chemerinsky says. “The government cannot favor some speech due to its viewpoint and disfavor others because of its viewpoint. The Court has said that when the government is giving financial benefits, it can’t decide who to give to, or not to give to, based on the viewpoint expressed.”13

During the 1970’s the American public soured on war and the military. Public opinion reflected the notion that the country had been misled about Vietnam and the war resulted in the unnecessary deaths of 58,000 American soldiers and millions of Vietnamese. Hollywood, through films like The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, reflected public disgust for the military. The American public was experiencing a kind of a hangover from the unpopular war that made it largely unprofitable for Hollywood to produce big budget films glorifying war.

That changed with the release of Top Gun in 1986, and the hangover went away in a hurry. The Pentagon was ecstatic over the level of cooperation with Paramount, the film’s producer. Since then, Hollywood has generally increased its output of high-dollar war movies and has cozied up with the Pentagon to use personnel, bases, ships, fighter planes, and other tools of the trade. The offices on Wilshire Blvd. have been humming with activity since, marking up the scripts of thousands of movies.

Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, was the number one film of 1986, grossing $176 million. The movie’s hero, Maverick, played by Cruise, helps to shoot down four MIG-28’s during a contrived battle over the Indian Ocean. Maverick triumphantly lands his F-14 on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and gets the girl at the end. (No offense to women intended). It sounds trivial, but the film is extraordinarily powerful with its portrayal of super-intense, high-speed dogfights between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. Right away, droves of youth lined up to enlist in hopes of becoming fighter pilots.

Paramount Pictures offered to place a 90-second Navy recruiting advertisement at the beginning of the video cassette for Top Gun, in exchange for $1 million in credit towards their debt to the Navy for production assistance. An internal memo to the Pentagon from an advertising agency rejected the offer, noting that “Both movies are already wonderful recruiting tools for the military, particularly the Navy, and to add a recruiting commercial onto the head of what is already a two-hour recruiting commercial is redundant.”14

Lt. Sandy Stairs, the Navy’s representative while the film was in production, told the Los Angeles Times, “Navy regulations prohibit the service from ‘selectively endorsing or appearing to endorse a commercial product.’ “15 They can say anything they want. Few are paying attention, and the military is still America’s most trusted institution.

Paramount, like the rest of Hollywood, isn’t wedded to the pro-military narrative. Its allegiance is to profit. The blockbuster Forrest Gump, with some unflattering portrayals of the military, was a project of deep-pocketed Paramount Pictures.

Paramount submitted a request to the Pentagon for assistance in filming this great American classic. They wanted to use Chinook helicopters and other Vietnam-era military equipment. The Army had reservations about the film and demanded numerous changes to the script. The brass didn’t like the scene when Gump bends over, pulls down his pants, and shows President Johnson the scar on his rear end. They didn’t like the way Gump referred to his commanding officer, Lt. Dan Taylor, by his rank and first name. They also didn’t appreciate the scene in which Lt. Dan is seen crying after being ordered to send his men on a dangerous mission. In the end, Paramount refused to yield to the Pentagon’s censors.16

The Forrest Gump script runs counter to the military’s desire to sanitize films to help with recruiting and retention. Unlike Top Gun, it didn’t send potential recruits rushing to local recruiting stations.

Consider Forrest’s first encounter with the military chain of command as he enters the bus to boot camp, and his descriptions of boot camp and Lt. Dan:

Forrest Gump: Hello. I’m Forrest, Forrest Gump.

Recruit Officer: Nobody gives a hunky shit who you are, puss ball. You’re not even a low-life, scum-sucking maggot. Get your ass on the bus, you’re in the army now!

Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?

Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!

Drill Sergeant: God damn it, Gump! You’re a goddamn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump.

Forrest Gump: [narrates] Now for some reason I fit in the army like one of them round pegs. It’s not really hard. You just make your bed real neat and remember to stand up straight and always answer every question with “Yes, drill sergeant.”

Drill Sergeant: ...Is that clear?

Forrest Gump: Yes, drill sergeant!

Forrest Gump: (Speaking of Lt. Dan) He was from a long great military tradition. Somebody from his family had fought and died in every single American war. I guess you could say he had a lot to live up to.17

Forrest Gump managed box office success without military cooperation. It was an exception to the rule. Since its release in 1994, no military-related film that has managed to escape censorship has come anywhere close to enjoying Gump’s commercial success. The military minders have made sure of it. Films about the military have difficulty surviving without sacrificing editorial control.

The close relationship between the movie industry and the Pentagon was further cemented with the release of Act of Valor in 2012. The film was commissioned by the Navy’s Special Warfare Command and was produced specifically to “bolster recruiting efforts.”18 The film “stars” active-duty Navy SEALs.

In a similar fashion, the Marine Corps Recruiting Command plans to use active duty soldiers for its video advertising campaigns. It held a national casting call at ten military base locations over two weeks in April 2016 to screen interested Marines.19

Only a small number of projects the Army included in its report were turned down in the end. These rejections shed light on the highest level of U.S. government complicity with Hollywood and the philosophical underpinnings of the censorship program.

The entry dated April 30, 2013, from the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in Los Angeles (OCPA-LA) release regarding Zero Dark Thirty, shows the Army was happy to duck the extreme controversy at the highest levels of government involving the movie. From OCPA-LA:

Representatives from the DoD IG (Inspector general) visited OCPA-LA on 30 April. The purpose of the visit was a spiral increment of the DoD IG investigation into DoD’s support of the film titled “Zero Dark Thirty”. The US Army did not support the movie “Zero Dark Thirty”. Specifically, the DoD IG’s focus was on DoD Agencies and Military Services regarding the release of DoD classified and/or sensitive information to the media... OCPA-LA does not have any classified material nor do we have the means to store classified material. The DoD IG team appeared to be satisfied with the procedures and policies implemented by OCPA-LA. 20

Apparently, CIA Director Leon Panetta and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers conveyed ultra-sensitive, legally protected information to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty regarding the capture of Osama bin Laden. The CIA used White House-approved talking points to brief the filmmakers. That information, according to the CIA and as portrayed in the film, was gained using torture.21

In a sense, Zero Dark Thirty’s Producer Mark Boal and Director Kathryn Bigelow were CIA operatives. The blockbuster film implied that the use of torture led to the discovery of Osama bin Laden. The film actually begins with a statement that the movie is “based on firsthand accounts of actual events.” It seems Boal and Bigelow sold a lie to the American people.

In 2014, a Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation techniques made it clear that torture did not factor into finding Bin Laden. Regardless, the movie’s propaganda achieved its purpose. The public was taught to be tolerant of torture and to applaud those who ordered it.22

An OCPA-LA entry regarding the movie The Hurt Locker, also produced by Boal and directed by Bigelow, was made available through a FOIA request by Secker and provides insight into the way military censors operate. According to the database, USA Today reporter Gregg Zoroya asked an OCPA-LA representative, “LTC,” for an explanation of the DOD’s decision not to support the movie. Rather than identify specific reasons why the film was rejected, readers were provided the link to Zoroya’s February 19, 2010 USA Today piece, “Veterans say ‘The Hurt Locker’ gets a lot right and wrong”.23

From the article we can pick out several objections Army censors would have us believe led to a denial of DOD cooperation:

  • Filmmakers took enough liberties with war reality to cause those who know better to either grin and bear it or dismiss the movie altogether.
  • There were errors in rank, patches, vernacular or procedure.
  • The movie is ruined by inaccuracies, ranging from the wrong shade of uniform to a scene in which three soldiers run through Baghdad alleyways alone looking for insurgents.
  • “I don’t like the way Hollywood cashes in on the troops.”
  • An Iraqi drives through a military roadblock unharmed during an EOD operation. “They would have killed him, no ifs, ands or buts.”

The relative superficiality of these items suggests there were other reasons behind the Army’s rejection of the request for assistance. Although the film is largely devoid of political commentary, it is anything but an endorsement of the American war effort. The Hurt Locker follows a unit of soldiers whose mission is to defuse and dispose of “IED” bombs. The soldiers appear dispirited and fundamentally shaken by the violence they’ve been exposed to and the bloodshed they’ve caused. They seem to care very little about anything but their own survival.

The military censors condemned the film because they found it “fails to build resiliency, restore balance, or maintain our combat edge.”

The OCPA-LA list also describes Jason Dutton, a heavy metal guitarist with the band, Kings of Carnage, who requested permission to film during their concert at the Fort Irwin Army Base. The request was denied. Apparently, the music was deemed to be suitable for those on base but not suitable to be filmed for a potentially wider audience. Cameras are risky business on army bases.

We can gain a sense of the culture of the active duty crowd at Fort Irwin and the line that separates this cultural identity from that which the Army deems marketable to American society as a whole. The group’s debut album shows a kneeling, shackled man being readied for decapitation with a man’s head lying nearby.24

Another entry from OCPA-LA concerns a request from independent film producers working for National Geographic to film the story of transplant recipients at Walter Reed Medical Center. The Army censors write:

They believe transplant recipients are the way to go. They propose the following: 1. Identify four patients who will receive, arm, ear or other transplants who are willing to participate. 2. They obtain the go ahead/funding from National Geographic. 3. They film the patient pre-surgery, surgery and post-surgery. OTSG (Office of the Army Surgeon General) has declined support based on the science today, the only thing they could film would be hand transplants and the command feels that logistically they cannot support. Update: Requesting OTSG to reconsider the project.25

This request must have represented a conundrum for the Army. On the one sutured hand, the Army’s medical staff is obviously concerned with the limitations of the available science—they may be leery of the potential for a public relations setback regarding the public’s perception of recent medical advances in transplants. On the other prosthetic, the propagandists in Los Angeles see the potential payoff for recruiting. The rationale is that relatively few are killed in combat these days; instead they’re losing body parts, and that’s OK, because these parts can be re-attached—or reassembled.

Approved films also suggest the political orientation of the censors, at least regarding the nuclear issue. Consider History and Future of Nuclear Power, (2013), a documentary film by Robert Stone Productions about the history and future of nuclear power that traces nuclear power development in the United States from the Manhattan Project to the present day. Stone was given the green light to film at the White Sands Missile Range Trinity Site, where the first nuclear weapons test of an atomic bomb occurred. Stone’s film was approved by OCPA-LA because it “Supports Broader Understanding and Advocacy.”

Stone was the director of Pandora’s Promise, a 2013 documentary film about nuclear power. The film has been lambasted by the environmental community because it fails to examine the problem of spent nuclear fuel storage, the risk of weapons proliferation, and the likelihood of continued accidents. It also leaves out the exorbitant cost of new reactors. The military is rabidly pro-nuclear and Stone is their man.

OCPA-LA supported the production of Discovery’s Frontline Battle Machines, an eight-part series covering U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

The host, Mike Brewer, covered U.K. forces in the first season. Mike Brewer returns for a second season to the frontline in Afghanistan to reveal the new technology available to the US Forces in the war against terror. Each of the eight shows will feature key items of equipment from armoured troop carriers to fighter planes, helicopters, light tanks, machine guns and guided missiles. Will meet the Soldiers who operate the equipment, witnesses actual missions and travels with troops to discover how new technology has transformed the modern battlefield. Program aimed at knowledge about the vehicles and equipment that could mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.26

OCPA-LA reported that the U.S. Central Command’s Public Affairs Office (USCENTCOM PA) also supported the production of the project. CENTCOM is one of nine unified commands in the United States military, consisting of 20 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

Brewer’s product is unabashed rah-rah over the marvels of technology applied to weapons of mass destruction. It represents the most dangerous, sensationalized brand of propaganda as it endeavors to desensitize a massive world-wide audience to the destructive power of these weapons.

Narrator: Have you ever wondered what we’re doing in Afghanistan? We’re trying out our new toys.

Narrator: Although these are weapons of death (Images of gun-toting armored personnel carriers)

Narrator: They just somehow make you feel alive. (The image is that of a massive, rapidly firing automatic machine gun mounted on a military vehicle.)

Narrator: Unfortunately, none of them get very good mileage. (Now the screen shows stacks of hundred dollar bills.)

Narrator: Which brings up the second reason we’re here. (The hundred dollar bills appear to be soaked by a steady stream of thick, black oil.)

Narrator: Watch Mike Brewer and the newest weapons of technology on Fridays at 10 in Frontline Battle Machines on the Discovery Channel.

(The next scene shows a jet fighter dropping a guided missile in slow motion. The missile is rotating. A close-up shows it is printed with three lines in succession as it moves menacingly toward its target.)


The show is co-produced by the U.S. Central Command Public Affairs Office and the Discovery Channel. Everything is vetted. This is the image the U.S. wants to project to the world. Mike Brewer is a lackey for the American and British propagandists. He’s a dime a dozen. Brewer’s website carries this promotion for the film, “Mike was sitting with his wife Michelle one morning reading the newspapers and saw yet another article about how British soldiers’ equipment wasn’t up to the job.”28

Meanwhile, multinational corporate sponsors line up for viewers at home to imbibe this British-produced rubbish. It’s how propagandists operate.

The PBS Coming Back series with Wes Moore was also approved by the censors in the Army’s Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in Los Angeles.

The three-part series about returning service members undersells the costs of war, according to a review by the influential A.V. Club. “With the right degree of patient understanding and sweet reason, any subject can be turned into bland mush,” writes contributor Phil Dyess-Nugent.

That’s his takeaway from the documentary that tracks the lives of 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and re-enter American society. The piece concludes, “It’s just frustrating that the show itself doesn’t show a fuller, deeper sense of the cost (of war). Watching it is like seeing someone stick a Band-Aid on a bloody stump.”29

One OCPA-LA entry from November 27, 2013, addressed a proposed documentary by NBC Peacock Productions called On the Trail, a docu-series about Army Basic Training: After more than six months of Peacock Production’s unwillingness to sign the DoD Production Assistance Agreement for this project, OCPA-LA and OSD-PA (Public Affairs Office of the Secretary of Defense) are discussing the possibility of terminating negotiations with the production company. This is not a bad project, but the production company’s unwillingness to agree to the standard terms of the PAA (Production Assistance Agreement) is cause for concern

about their motivations and the type of story they want to tell. Our recommendation is that this could be a good story, but perhaps Peacock Productions is not the right production company to make the program.30

From the DoD’s perspective, it’s time to produce a documentary on basic training. If Peacock drags its feet in signing the production contract on “the type of story they want to tell” the Pentagon will find someone else to produce it.

This homogenizing process works for the Pentagon. Overwhelming numbers of Americans express tremendous confidence in the military.

In the words of David Robb,

“When the American people are seeing hundreds and hundreds of films and TV shows that have been sanitized by the military to make the military seem more heroic than it really is, and never wrong and always good, that creates a false image in the American people’s minds, and I think it helps to make the American people a more warlike people.”31

Many of the productions approved by the four military Entertainment Liaison Offices feed directly into that sewer while the Pentagon promotes a whitewashed version of the military and war. This exploitation is also evident in the world of military marketing, the subject of the next chapter.

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.



 Revised 01/30/2022

Love Our Enemies? Or Kill Them?

Pat Elder |  Counter-Recruit Press | November 2018

The March 2010 edition of Richmond’s Benedictine College Preparatory student newspaper, The New Chevron, carried two articles on the Iraq War exploits of the school’s newly-hired headmaster, Jesse A. Grapes. During the 2nd Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004, 1st Lieutenant Grapes saved the lives of three Marines in his platoon. The newspaper reports:

Jesse A. Grapes, only three words can describe this man, patriotic war hero. He consistently showed unyielding bearing, fortitude, intuition, and courage while serving his country in war. The Marines who served under him said, “He is a hard-charging small unit tactician who literally wrote a book about modern urban warfare following his ferocious experience in Fallujah.”

1st Lieutenant Grapes led 3rd platoon into the chaos of Fallujah, in which he furthered his heroism with his actions of saving three wounded marines at the “infamous Hell House.” To accomplish this feat, he tore off his body armor, forced his body through a window of a burning house, which enabled him to encounter the enemy soldier who had been firing at his troops.

Following this act of heroism, he was accused of the capture, murder, and torture of several prisoners of war. To this he said, “I know nothing about the alleged capture or order to kill the prisoners. If I had heard such a thing I would have immediately stopped it.” Grapes also refused a polygraph examination saying that no machine can trump his honor. “If my word isn’t good enough, nothing would be.”

Grapes’ word was “good enough” to lead the Catholic military school.

Three Marines under the command of 1st Lt. Jesse Grapes shot four defenseless prisoners during the Battle of Fallujah. When the crime came to light a few years later, it made front-page news across the country as the first war crimes charges against service members prosecuted in federal (civilian) court. Naval Criminal Investigative Services, a federal grand jury, and court witnesses documented the events of November 9, 2004, in Fallujah. Grapes’ platoon had been taking fire from a house. After the troops entered the building and captured the insurgents, Sergeant Jose Nazario, Jr. used a radio to call for orders on what to do next.

This is according to the testimony of Marines Weemer, Nelson, and Prentice, who say they were in the room with Mr. Nazario at the time. The instructions, Mr. Nazario told them, were to kill the prisoners. “We argued about it, and argued about it, and we had to move, we had to get out, and our unit was moving down the street,” Mr. Weemer says in the transcript of his testimony.2

Weemer said he shot the insurgent twice in the chest and instantly felt remorseful.3 During the polygraph examination, Weemer alluded to similar atrocities that had occurred on other occasions, indicating his unit did not take prisoners.4

Nazario testified that he was asked over the radio, “Are they dead yet?” When Nazario responded that the captives were still alive, he was told by the Marine on the radio to “make it happen.”5

Prentice said Nazario exchanged radio messages with higher-ups. “Spartan Three, this is Spartan Three-Three,” Prentice claimed Nazario said over his radio. “We have four MAMs (Military-aged males), found AK47s in the house.” “Then Nazario says negative,” Prentice said. “Then Nazario says affirmative.”

Marine Corps records show that at Fallujah “Spartan Three” was 1st Lt. Jesse Grapes, the 3rd Platoon commander. Grapes was not called as a witness.6

Grapes told investigators he had no recollection of hearing about captured enemy combatants on his radio. He was discharged from the Marines after refusing to talk to government investigators about his role at Fallujah. He exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and also refused to testify at the Federal Grand Jury hearing.7

In the end, all criminal charges were dropped when the Marines refused to testify against each other or their commander. It’s quite a lesson for the students at Benedictine College Prep. The Benedictine website contains the following segment entitled “Why Catholic?” that quotes a selection from the Bible, 1 Peter 3:15,

Today, Benedictine College Preparatory continues to glorify God and mold young men into soldiers of Christ. In the world, these men will be ready to fulfill St. Peter’s command: ‘always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.’ ”8 Appearing in the same edition that welcomes the warfighter accused of murder as the new headmaster, this verse is taken out of context and is terribly misleading, bringing to mind the haunting biblical exhortation in Matthew 18:6: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Examine this verse in context in 1 Peter 3:13-16,

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

This is a different message, and it reflects the true gospel message. The school also has an annual Boxing Smoker in coordination with the Georgetown University Boxing Team. Would Jesus have a front row seat?

Benedictine is a kind of poster child for the militarized Catholic school. Every year the school requires all juniors to take the military’s enlistment exam. The school operates an Army JROTC program and teaches small arms practice. Of course, these are expected activities in a military school. The question is whether these activities are appropriate in a Catholic school.

The National Catholic Reporter put it this way in 2003:

Long overdue in the American church is a reasoned and deep discussion of U.S. militarism, the proper use of force, the state’s responsibility to protect and defend, and the role of people of faith in all of this. To this point, Catholic teaching has had little effect in distinguishing us from any other segment of society when it comes to participation in wars and militarism.

The church has chosen to antagonize the state on issues related to abortion, homosexuality, and contraception, but this peripheral resistance provides a relatively minor irritation to the comfortable, contemporary church-state relationship. A rejection of war and violence, however, carries with it a repudiation of nationalism and patriotism, unthinkable in today’s church-state nexus.

The Benedictine website says the work of the school is to mold young men into soldiers of Christ. Did Jesus institute a militant faith?

Military recruiters typically don’t frequent Benedictine in search of enlisted men because schools like Benedictine do the work for them, in this case, providing the military with young men who become officers. Many Benedictine Cadets pursue their college education at the service academies or schools like VMI or the Citadel.

Catholics and the military share a tight bond. About 10% of all Catholic priests have a military background, and 20% grew up in military families. Three years ago every member of the Joint Chiefs except for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. John Amos was a practicing Catholic, according to the Archdiocese for Military Services. 9

Catholic high schools across the country encourage regular visits by military recruiters and sponsor dozens of military programs that entice youth to enlist, often without full disclosure of the true intent of the programs.

Catholics, including youth and priests, enlist in a military that requires the subordination of Catholic doctrine to the military command. For many students, the vestiges of 12 years of Catholic education are largely erased in a few weeks of basic training. Catholic high school

students who enlist take an oath that requires obedience to Army regulations, including the Army Field Manual, which states,

“Your personal values may and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, if you’re to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values must reinforce not contradict, Army values.” 10

Jesus said no one could serve two masters.

The U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) is poised to exploit the dichotomy. For example, the 3rd Recruiting Brigade headquartered in Fort Knox, Kentucky encourages Catholic recruiters to request permission from school officials “to attend Mass in their dress uniform.” The Brigade says Catholic high schools would be honored to have recruiters join students at Mass and that attendance should improve relations with administrators.11

Catholic Schools have done a poor job, compared to many of their public school counterparts, in protecting children from the military’s predatory practices. In some cases, the recruiting command couldn’t be more effective than the Catholic command. For instance, hundreds of Chaminade Catholic High School graduates from Mineola, New York have entered military service upon graduating from the school. Sadly, 55 Chaminade graduates have been killed in combat, at least since the 1960’s.12

Like Chaminade, St. Pius X High School in Lincoln, Nebraska acts as a proxy for the Recruiting Command. In 2015 the school apparently required 247 students to take the military’s enlistment exam, known as the ASVAB or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, without providing for parental consent. The school sent test results, along with social security numbers and sensitive demographic information, to the Pentagon without parents specifically saying it was OK. Although military regulations clearly identify the testing regime as a recruiting device, few, if any Catholic schools notify parents of the true nature of the program.13

Catholic schools that receive funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) must provide military recruiters, upon request, the names, addresses and phone numbers of children. The law gives parents the right to “opt out” from lists including their children’s names being forwarded to the DoD by notifying the school of their intention. Often, Catholic school students or teachers receive services under ESEA programs, but the schools themselves do not receive any ESEA funds.14 Many schools release records nonetheless.

Catholic Schools are a notoriously independent bunch, unlike state and local schools operating under boards that may regulate hundreds of institutions. For instance, Maryland requires all parents to complete a form specifically asking if they want to remove their child’s name from

lists being sent to recruiters. Catholic schools have no supra-school authority like this (certainly not the National Catholic Education Association), and the military prefers it this way.

The law exempts private schools that maintain a religious objection to service in the Armed Forces. Although this applies to schools affiliated with traditional Christian peace churches like the Church of the Brethren, Quakers, or Mennonites, it does not apply to the military-friendly Catholic Schools.

Instead, schools like St. Louis Catholic High School in Lake Charles, LA apparently require parents to sign a form that releases directory information, along with transcripts, grade point averages, and class rankings to the recruiting command.15

In the 2009-2010 school year, one Milwaukee recruiter was able to use his 15-hour-per-week job as a volunteer coach to mentor—and eventually, enlist—five football players from Pius XI High School. Pope Pius XI, the “peace and justice pope” of the 1930s, would have been appalled.16

We’ve seen how the Army calls for school ownership, and it is apparent at Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command presents awards to recruiters and holds regular change of command ceremonies.17

Recruiters are intent on getting inside the heads of all high school students, including Catholic school students. During the 2012-2013 school year, the military managed to administer its enlistment test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP) to 11,000 students in 113 Catholic High Schools.18

An examination of the websites of nearly 100 such schools reveals that no sites clearly identified the ASVAB-CEP as a recruitment tool or mentioned that student data would be transferred to military recruiters. Instead, these websites carried upbeat promotional messages often lifted verbatim from Pentagon sources. For instance, Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City encourages students to take the ASVAB. Rather than accurately describing test proctors as military recruiters or Department of Defense employees, Mount St. Mary’s officials refer to them as “test administrators from the Federal Government.”19

Throughout the country, counselors include language provided by recruiters in their school’s promotional materials. At Newport Central Catholic in Newport, Kentucky, the test is given to juniors in November. In 2013, 95 students took the test and had their test data forwarded to recruiters without parental consent.20

Some schools have gotten the message, though. For example, when Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus, Ohio required its junior class to take the test in 2013, it prohibited the release of student data to recruiters. A notice on the school’s website correctly states that

data would be kept with the school. However, Bishop Hartley is in the minority. Nationally, just 19.6% of all parochial and religious school students taking the test in 2012-2013 had their results withheld from recruiters.

The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program is the military’s most effective indoctrination tool in the high schools. JROTC operates in scores of Catholic and religious high schools and teaches military culture and a dangerous, reactionary version of US History and Government. Although many Catholic high schools have embraced anti-violence and anti-gun programs, the JROTC program brings guns and military personnel into these religious schools and teaches students to use them. Good guns and bad guns?

Army values taught in the four-year JROTC curriculum differ from the Christian message in a host of ways, but most importantly, regarding the 5th Commandment, “You shall not kill.” Army values stress killing. The Army Creed has soldiers recite, “I am an American Soldier. I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.”

Colman McCarthy, the Washington DC-based peace activist, framed the military program this way:

The first and most fundamental objection to ROTC based on Catholic thought appeals to what is described as the basic contradiction between a religion that teaches peace and institutions that train for and make war. John Dear, a Jesuit priest formerly on the faculty at Fordham University, asks, “How can we teach peace and uphold the peacemaking life of Jesus on the one hand, while on the other support the Pentagon and train our young people to kill in future wars?”21

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. The Army calls us to kill them.

Military access to Catholic schools strikes at the core of Catholic identity. For Catholics, it calls to mind the divide between the church as envisioned by Cardinal Francis Spellman, who encouraged Catholic students to join “Christ’s war against the Vietcong and the people of North Vietnam”22 and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who urged Catholics not to “unquestioningly accept the war policies of their government.” 23

Furthermore, critical thinking skills—so often hailed by educational progressives—may be undermined by what Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr decried as the “military mind,” which “makes unthinking obedience” the greatest good in the “hierarchy of virtues.” The seemingly inexorable march to militarize has no about-face.

American Catholic schools are the most military-friendly Catholic schools in the world, based on an exhaustive internet search of military involvement in Catholic schools worldwide. The cultural

divide between the American Church and the Vatican was apparent in 2001, when the Vatican ratified the U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The treaty required that recruitment practices involving minors must be voluntary and carried out with the informed consent of the child’s parents.24

It doesn’t appear that many of America’s Catholic high schools are upholding the Vatican’s end of the deal. The Catholic Catechism teaches war is sanctioned if the following four conditions are met, at one and the same time:

  • The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • There must be serious prospects of success;
  • The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.25

The totality of the conditions stated above have never been met in post-World War II American military encounters, rendering all American military actions that have resulted in the deaths of enemy combatants, civilians, and Americans since 1945 immoral and unjustified.

The judgment of the souls of the men and women who have participated in these campaigns rests between them and their Creator. Certainly, heaven holds a million soldiers.

Still, we must join a host of saints in questioning the great Doctors of the Church, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, who are primarily responsible for the Church’s present-day Just War position. They were human, though many regard their teachings as infallible. Pope Francis has challenged the church’s 1700-year-old green light for war by stating, “Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! Everything is lost with war; nothing is lost with peace. Never more war.” In the U.S., Pax Christi Metro DC – Baltimore has helped to lead the charge to embrace gospel nonviolence as the only stance consistent with Christian discipleship.

Almost every American Catholic classroom prominently displays an American flag and children routinely start their days with a pledge of allegiance to the flag. The practice is rarely questioned. This pledge is an oath to the United States while Jesus condemned making oaths. Consider Matthew 5:33-34, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all.”

Nothing in the Gospels calls for Catholics to pledge their loyalty to the state. When Catholics recite, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” they are giving themselves entirely to God. Their minds should be fixed on establishing God’s kingdom on earth, not the violent and sometimes

evil American empire. It is an abomination to lead children in pledging allegiance to the American flag. It is the flag of Hiroshima, of Abu Ghraib, and millions dead in Vietnam. It is the flag of several dozen unnecessary and immoral violent conquests in violation of the church’s Just War position. We must never consent to pledging allegiance to a flag that symbolizes a political entity whose systems and policies condone killing.

The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) contains the following message regarding the display of American flags in American churches. The USCCB Committee on the Liturgy issued this decision on September 25, 2001, two weeks after the attacks of 9/11,

Surprisingly to many, there are no regulations of any kind governing the display of flags in Roman Catholic Churches. Neither the Code of Canon Law, nor the liturgical books of the Roman rite comment on this practice. As a result, the question of whether and how to display the American flag in a Catholic Church is left up to the judgment of the diocesan bishop, who in turn often delegates this to the discretion of the pastor.

The origin of the display of the American flag in many parishes in the United States appears to have its origins in the offering of prayers for those who served during the Second World War (1941-1945). At that time, many bishops and pastors provided a book of remembrance near the American flag, requesting prayers for loved ones – especially those serving their country in the armed forces –as a way of keeping before the attention of the faithful the needs of military families. This practice has since been confirmed in many places during the Korean, Viet Nam and Iraqi conflicts.

The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy has in the past encouraged pastors not to place the flag within the sanctuary itself, in order to reserve that space for the altar, the ambo, the presidential chair and the tabernacle. Instead, the suggestion has been made that the American flag be placed outside the sanctuary, or in the vestibule of the Church together with a book of prayer requests. It remains, however, for the diocesan bishop to determine regulations in this matter.26

Having the American flag in the sanctuary is an outrage. Catholics worship God in this holy place. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is appeasing the forces of secular correctness. Many Archdioceses throughout the country, like those in Washington, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia, wash their hands of the issue and defer to the USCCB on the flying of the flag in the sanctuary.

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington at the Msgr. Pope argues that the practice of displaying the flag in the sanctuary may be theologically justified by considering that patriotism is related to the Fourth Commandment, “Honor thy father and mother.” He contends our country nourishes and provides for us as a parent.27

Meanwhile, others are adamant that the flag has no permanent place in the sanctuary. The Diocese of Richmond does not allow the flag in the sanctuary. Instead, it says the flag should be relegated to the vestibule, narthex, or commons area.28 The Archdiocese of Los Angeles calls for the removal of the flag from the main body of its churches. In its statement, “The Display of American Flags in Catholic churches,” LA church leaders point to the US Flag Code. The code states, “When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience...”

According to the Archdiocese,

Such prominence is not possible in a Catholic church, where the predominant image is that of the crucified Christ. Because of this stipulation, it would be better to give the flag a place of greater prominence outside of the church in a special area, or perhaps in the vestibule or gathering space rather than in the main body of the church.29

The differences between various archdioceses underscore the remarkable autonomy local Catholic districts enjoy on this and other issues. Through its weakness, the USCCB defers decision-making authority to those leaning toward pacifism and militarism alike. It’s reminiscent of local school boards that allow high school principals to develop policies and procedures regarding the access military recruiters enjoy to students.

All Catholic churches, however, seem to be in agreement in the case of funerals. In the Order of Christian Funerals, “national flags ... have no place in the funeral liturgy” and thus “are to be removed from the coffin at the entrance of the church.”30 The flags of the Knights of Columbus, local sports teams, or the 101st Airborne Division are removed from the casket and replaced by the funeral pall, a reminder of the baptismal garment of the deceased.

For a moment, try to imagine how an eight-year-old 3rd grader in one of the nation’s Catholic schools might view the flag and the nation. Every morning the child says the Our Father and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. Both are sacred in her mind. In church, the flag stands on the altar with the crucifix. These stains on the developing political mind last a lifetime and conspire to disable critical, objective thought later in life.

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.



 Revised 01/30/2022

Should Recruiters Own Our Schools?

Pat Elder | Counter-Recruit Press | December 2017

Military’s goal is school ownership; communities push back

Throughout the country military recruiters are increasingly allowed to casually share lunch in high school cafeterias and interact freely with high school youth in hallways and classrooms. Military recruiters are on campus so frequently in many schools that they get to know kids on a first-name basis. They “chill” in the locker room and hang out in the parking lot and they play one-on-one basketball with kids after school. Meanwhile, college recruiters are typically required to meet with students by appointment in the guidance office. It’s not the “same” access called for in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Forget the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. With vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds, familiarity breeds trust and trust produces enlistment agreements.

The military is secretive concerning the amount of time its recruit- ers and civilian employees spend in the nation’s public schools. Re- searchers must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to receive empirical evidence documenting the military’s presence. Data from Massachusetts and Connecticut shed light on the extent of their presence in the high schools in these states.

The three most heavily recruited schools in Massachusetts, according to data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Seth Kershner, a researcher and co-author of Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools, are Fitchburg High School, Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, and Springfield Central High School.1

The school has a student population that is 50% minority with 49% of students eligible for the free lunch program. Putnam Vocational (87% minority; 80% free lunch) allowed 102 visits, and Springfield Central High School (78% minority; 57% free lunch) was visited 97 times by Army recruiters. Navy, Marine, and Air Force recruiters also make reg- ular visits to these high school campuses, competing with the Army for the same students.

In March of 2015 the American Friends Service Committee Western Massachusetts Program published “Military Recruitment in Western Massachusetts High Schools.”2 The study reports on the findings of a survey sent to officials in 38 high schools in Western Massachusetts regarding military recruitment. From July 2012 to the winter of 2013, AFSC staff submitted public records requests to all public high schools within the four counties of Western Massachusetts: Hampshire, Hamp- den, Franklin, and Berkshire. Among other questions, the survey asked administrators how often recruiters visit, where they set up, and who (if anyone) supervises them.

From the study:

Many schools do not consistently monitor the presence of recruiters, or the content brought by visiting recruiters. There do not appear to be standards for what recruiters are allowed to do, say, or distribute. Of the thirty-eight schools in Western Massachusetts, most schools (twenty-two) required more than one request for AFSC to receive public information on recruiter policies. Five did not respond until the request was made via certified mail. Even then, three did not respond or rejected our request.

The study awarded schools a letter grade, from A to F. An A meant the school did everything possible to minimize the military’s interaction with students. An F grade meant the school was in violation of the law. A school’s failure to alert parents of their right to opt out merited an automatic F. A failure to respond to the Massachusetts Public Records Act request merited an automatic F unless clarification was obtained through other means. There were 5 A’s, 10 B’s, 11 C’s, 6 D’s, and 6 F’s.

Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield re- ceived an F because it failed to respond to four requests. Apparently, Putnam officials didn’t want to share their open-door policy regarding military recruiters. Additionally, 83 students took the ASVAB during the same school year, with all results being forwarded to recruiters without parental consent.3

In Connecticut it’s pretty much the same story. Crosby High School (76% minority, 71% free lunch) was visited 73 times by Army recruit- ers during the 2012 - 2013 school year. On October 18, 2011 the re- cruiter made the following notes, “Great day at Crosby made 36 ap- pointments. A lot of positive staff and kids. We will be conducting all appts this week.”4

At Bloomfield High School, northwest of Hartford (97% minority,
34% free lunch) Army recruiters visited on 62 separate days. Recruit- ers use the JROTC Program as a base within the school. They routinely assist in physical training exercises with the kids.

In September of 2012 the recruiter at Hartford Public High School reported, “I gave a presentation in English class and they had lots of questions... gave a ppt presentation. On the way out met               (re- dacted) and he was interested in having me come in during class and talk about the Middle East at some point in the future.”

Throughout the country non-degreed recruiters befriend supportive teachers to gain access to children. They complement thousands of JROTC instructors, who are typically the only non-degreed, non-certi- fied “teachers” in American classrooms.
Not all schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut are as friendly to the recruiting command as the schools discussed above. Consider the notes the recruiter made regarding his experiences with Classical Magnet School in Hartford on March 12, 2012.

Dropped off request to      (redacted) she stated that their school does not release school lists. When asked about table days and presentations she said, we really don’t do that. trouble school will not release directory info. receives federal funds. also limits ac- cess to recruiters. Forwarding school info to explore possibility of Battalion intervention to release list or begin the Recruiter Access
to High Schools Database Process In accordance with Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002.

Withholding directory information or disallowing recruiter access may result in a suspension of federal funding to schools. It is the military’s trump card. The “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA), the re-written
2015 version of the No Child Left Behind Act, maintains this provision regarding military access to schools.

Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Virginia provides a typi- cal scenario regarding recruiter visits. Military recruiters are allowed to have lunch in the cafeteria with all of the students in the school. Army recruiters visit on the first and third Thursdays throughout the school year, while Navy recruiters visit on the second Tuesday of every month. Marine and Air Force recruiters also show up for the lunch periods in the cafeteria. Meanwhile, college recruiters are required to make appointments to meet with students in the counseling office.5

According to the Army’s School Recruiting Program Handbook, “The objective of the Army’s school recruiting program is to assist recruiters with programs and services so they can effectively penetrate the school market. The goal is school ownership that can only lead to a greater number of Army enlistments.” 6

The following roles military recruiters perform in thousands of high schools across the country illustrate exactly how the Army is attaining school ownership:


•    Football conditioning coach

•    Career Day Counselor

•    Interactive recruiting vans with simulators

•    Presentations to the Student Government

•    Presentations to the PTA

•    Presentations to the School Board

•    Training the school color guard

•    Facilitating flag raising/Pledge of Allegiance

•    Helping with school registration

•    Regularly delivering donuts to faculty meetings

•    Placing advertisements in the student newspaper

•    Assuming a leading role in the homecoming parade

•    Chaperoning at homecoming dance and other dances throughout the year

•    Regular presentations to history and government classes

•    Basketball conditioning coach

•    Coin toss at football games

•    Attendance at all home football games

•    Halftime football ceremonies

•    Timekeeper

•    Recruiter v. Faculty basketball games

•    Track and Field Assistant

•    Baseball assistant coach

•    On stage at graduation

Ironically, the Army has developed an anti-bullying campaign to fur- ther “penetrate” the middle and high school “markets.” The issue of bullying has captured an extraordinary amount of attention nationwide, while the nation has witnessed a proliferation of anti-bullying programs in schools. The Army has produced a video, Be a leader against bul- lying, that provides additional license for recruiters to be on campus. Consider this piece, “Army Recruiter Works to Prevent Bullying,” that appeared on the Army’s homepage in 2013:
The Army’s Anti-Bullying Campaign is making an impact one fam- ily, one school and one community at a time. Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Athy of the Asheville, North Carolina Recruiting Center discov- ered his own daughter was being picked on and bullied for being overweight after he had an at-home viewing and discussion of the anti-bullying campaign video with his family.

“As a father it broke my heart that this was going on and I couldn’t protect my daughter,” said Athy. Then his son began asking ques- tions, as well, after a student at his middle school committed suicide

because of bullying. “After that, I thought I have to find a way to help and maybe even change some things,” said Athy. He intro- duced members of the Buncombe County Board of Education to the Army’s campaign explaining how he wanted to help and was welcomed with open arms.

Athy conducted anti-bullying presentations at four schools this past school year and plans to conduct presentations in all of the area middle and high schools in the coming school year.” 7
From the Army’s perspective, it’s a win-win situation. The video is professionally produced and does a good job framing the issue, while re- cruiters gain access to the entire student body. Realizing the public rela- tions bonanza, the Army has commissioned interactive tractor trailers to crisscross the country showing the anti-bullying video in a mobile theatre to the middle and high school crowd. The Army’s website says the mas- sive trucks require four recruiters to provide “support assistance”.8

Army Recruiting Van  - U.S. Army Mission Support Battalion  BY ARMAND PEREZ, DEFENSE VIDEO IMAGERY DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM

The Pentagon puts up a great front. In fact, though, the DOD has the worst record of all American institutions regarding the acceptance of violence within its ranks. Assault and bullying in the military occur at alarming rates. Rather than making revolutionary changes to radically alter chronic abuse in the chain of command, the Pentagon relies on sophisticated marketing campaigns to make it all go away—at least in the public’s eye. Their anti-bullying campaign kills two pesky birds with one stone.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) addressed the Senate in 2014 re- garding violence in the chain of command. Gillibrand has also led the fight in Congress to remove sexual assault cases from military juris- diction.

She hit upon the term toxic leadership in the Army’s own materials, and described it as a main cause of bullying and suicides in the mili- tary. According to Army Doctrine Publication 6-22 (September, 2012), “The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves.”9
  According to Col. George Reed, former director of Command and Leadership Studies at the War College, 20% of the American military force is victimized by toxic leadership, intimidating, hostile, aggres- sive, and frightening behavior directed by officers toward enlisted sol- diers.10 The officers call it “smoking” a soldier. This behavior is a con- tributing factor in the skyrocketing number of suicides in the military.
The Army knows a lot about bullying.

Troops to Teachers

The DOD established Troops to Teachers (TTT) in 1994. Today it is funded by the U.S. Department of Education but run by the DOD through Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), in Pensacola, Florida.

DANTES has established a network of state TTT offices to provide separating soldiers with counseling and assistance regarding certifica- tion requirements, routes to state certification, and employment leads. The TTT homepage provides information and resource links, including links to state departments of education, state certification offices, and other job listing sites in public education.

Troops to Teachers candidates must meet all state teacher certification requirements for the state where they desire to teach, although ev- ery state has implemented alternative licensing programs that make it a lot easier for soldiers and others to begin immediately teaching while licensure without a bachelor’s degree is worked out over the course of several years.

Some states, like Texas, make it relatively easy for non-degreed soldiers to find work as teachers. Soldiers often leave the military with skills in areas where the high schools offer technical education to their students. In Texas and elsewhere, the process for certification in a tech- nical field like shop or auto mechanics is distinct from standard subject area certification and may be accomplished without a bachelor’s degree.

Separating soldiers in Texas are instructed through the Troops to Teachers program to contact an authorized state college or university, like the Wayland Baptist University, which offers an On-Line Certifica- tion Program, to evaluate their experience as a first step in applying to teach in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs throughout the state. The soldier files his DD 214 discharge papers and completes the Texas Education Agency Statement of Qualifications form detailing his or her military technical experience.

Once the  educational brokers  evaluate the  documentation, they issue a deficiency plan, which details the courses that a soldier must eventually take to complete certification. The plan often involves up to 18 semester hours of CTE courses, plus a course in the US/Texas Constitution or government. Depending on how many credits are required, soldiers are given between one and three years to complete course work.11

When the deficiency plan is created, departing soldiers may apply to school districts to teach with full pay and benefits on a probationary certificate for up to three years.  Before certification is authorized, the veteran must pass the applicable Texas Examination of Education Stan- dards (TExES).

Troops to Teachers provides a pipeline of high school-educated soldiers who fill technical teaching jobs in high schools across the country.

Eligible military veterans may receive a federally funded stipend of up to $5,000 to help them pay for state teacher certification and a one-time bonus of up to $10,000 for agreeing to teach in a high-poverty school. The stipend and bonus combined cannot exceed a total of $10,000.

In the Houston Independent School District (ISD), the largest school district in Texas, TTT members may pursue certifications in areas such as welding, automotive technicians, diesel mechanics, cu- linary arts, and many more. In fact, there are 153 skills in Houston ISD that Service members could qualify to teach using their military experience.12

Army propagandists are quick to note the beneficial impact TTT has on recruiting. According to a 2014 story, “Troops to Teachers program offers post-Army careers” on, the official homepage of the U.S. Army, Troops to Teachers helps the Army “because it puts people into the classrooms that are going to be preparing future Sol- diers for service.”

The piece continues:

Today, discipline in the classroom comes into question, and that’s where their military training comes into play. Army values really help create people that would be wonderful teachers. And Soldiers can instill the Army values into their students and can be great role models along with appropriate disciplinarians.13

Some of these Army values will have to change to be successful in the classroom. Perhaps the “mission” in the Army is clearly defined, but it won’t be so cut and dry in a high-poverty area 9th grade class- room where some students won’t take orders.

Great teachers don’t rely on fear and discipline. Soldier/teachers will be forced to ignore the Soldier’s Creed and admit defeat, often daily. They may be professional soldiers but they aren’t profession- al teachers. Their “proficiency in warrior tasks” and drills won’t help them in classes with a dozen students carrying Individualized Educa- tional Plans. Can these battle-tested soldiers cope with children on the Asperger’s scale, with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and with undiagnosed anxiety disorders? This is the reality in many Amer- ican classrooms today.

Are these soldiers willing and able to devise diversified classroom instructional plans while being mindful of strategies to employ with divergent learners? Will they devise several plans for one lesson that reach children with different learning styles such as visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic or logical, to name a few?

Saltman and Gabbard, in the introduction to their edited book, Education as Enforcement - The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools, put the TTT program into perspective, referring to it as part of military education, Military education refers to explicit efforts to expand and legitimate military training in public schooling. These sorts of programs are exemplified by JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs, the Troops to Teachers program that places retired soldiers in schools, the trend of military generals hired as school superintendents or CEOs, the uniform movement, the Lockheed Martin corporation’s public school in Georgia, and the army’s development of the biggest online education program in the world as a recruiting inducement. 14

 It is alarming to witness the rapid proliferation of programs that contribute to the militarization of American youth.
 Col. John Box, Commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting 3rd Brigade, wrote a revealing article that provides a glimpse into the mentality of the recruiting command. The piece pits the recruiters against youth in a demented kind of surveillance-based guerilla warfare scenario. The disturbing commentary, “A guide to intelligence driven prospecting,” dated December 18, 2013, appeared on the Army’s homepage, www. In Box’s military mind the high schools provide the brick and mortar where the “enemy or target” is confined to meet the “challenge of the counterinsurgency fight.”1

Box’s analogy is particularly chilling now that the Pentagon allows recruiters to carry loaded and concealed automatic weapons into the schools. You’d have to be familiar with a boatload of acronyms to decode the colonel’s message. These acronyms all appear in Box’s 1,100-word piece, which is meant for public consumption:

  FOB Forward Operations Base
  IPB Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield
  SUR Small Unit Recruiting
  ET Engagement Team
  RST  Recruiting Support Team
  FSL Future Soldier Leader
  CC  Center Commander
  ACC Assistant Center Commander
  OPS Operations
  NCOC Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge
  S2  Intelligence
  AAR After Action Review
  TPU’s Troop Program Units
  HPTL High Payoff Target List
  3-01 Recruiting Manual
  3-06 Recruiting Manual
  APL Automated Processing List
  SASVB Student Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
  TNEL Tested Not Enlisted List
  ALRL  Automated Lead Refinement List (from the high schools)
  SUR  Surveillance

Sample a taste of recruiting brigade culture from Box’s piece.

The RST’s role is to process applicants after handoff has occurred from the CC, ET, or FSL. Similar to the roles of an S2 in any maneuver unit using IPB, the RST considers market intelligence, prospecting analysis, and creates a high payoff target list (HPTL) for the CC, ET, and FSL. This HPTL is created from the automated processing list (APL), Student Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (SASVAB) test list, tested not enlisted (TNE) list, or the National Advertising (ADHQ) leads when formulating prospecting plans for the ET, CC, and FSL.
Colonel Box treats teenagers and the local high school like the enemy
on a battlefield. He writes,

In the 3rd brigade we, The Marauders, use an operational mindset and treat every recruiting center like a forward operations base (FOB). In the operational Army, a Soldier would never engage the enemy or a target without having the proper intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) and target information prior to departing the FOB; so why should our recruiters be any different?

To answer the colonel’s question, recruiters should be different because they operate in our home towns and their prospects are our children. They’re tender and they’re vulnerable, and although they often think otherwise, the kids don’t know much about the world.

An American community is not a battlefield, although understandable public resentment in some schools and towns may make it seem that way to the colonel.


The brigade commander’s battlefield analogy continues,

Just as Soldiers in a combat environment have to change, adapt and become more innovative, we must do the same in Recruiting Command. A key challenge of the counterinsurgency fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan are reflected in Sun Tzu’s adage that the enemy “Swims in the sea of the people.” I would offer that our prospects swim in the sea of high schools, colleges, and the communities at large.

While Box’s troops are pinning down the “enemy” in our schools they’re also involved in a kind of virtual counterinsurgency. The command realizes kids are glued to their smartphones, so they’ve created an impressive, virtual presence. Recruiters lurk on social media sites to determine where youth might congregate over the weekend. Is it the parking lot behind Appleby’s? Is it the food court at the mall, or is everyone heading to the pond to ice skate?

Recruiters also pose online as potential recruits sharing their frustrations or asking for advice regarding the military’s entrance exam, the ASVAB. They try to drum up interest in the test, which is offered at
12,000 high schools across the country. The Army requires a minimum test score of 31 to qualify for enlistment. (See the chapter on ASVAB Testing.) Although it’s tough to gauge, a 31 on the ASVAB is roughly equivalent to low 8th grade level, if that. A score of 17 translates to functional illiteracy, perhaps a 2nd to 4th grade level. The item below was posted by “Leticia.” Leticia only capitalizes half of her I’s and never uses an apostrophe. Other than that, her grammar and spelling are stellar, suggesting a much higher level than a 17 for the writer.


ASVAB HELP! NEED TO SCORE A 50 but i got a 17 :(?Okay, so i got a 17 on my ASVAB score. What can i do to improve? I need a 50 or higher. I can retake in one month. School ends in two weeks and ill have enough time to study. PLEASE HELP ME OUT! I real- ly am interested in this. Im working really hard for it. I dont want to give up. How can i aim for that 50 or higher? I dont understand how i got a 17.16

There are thousands of posts like this in dozens of chat rooms. They’re written by deceptive, sucker-punching recruiters looking for their next lead.

Here’s an obvious one:

Im a category 4 asvab wavier for the marines how will this effect my career am i in for horrible time or will i be ok im not nerves of leaven?

Best Answer: once your in the marines, your asvab score doesn’t matter it will effect what mos you can do when you enlist and it will effect trying to get into things like recon in the future but other than that, no one ever looks at your asvab score

Henry: Marines aren’t taking people below a 50 last I heard.

Wine Wine: U Dirty Skunk: No way! Someone with your obvious mastery of the written language a CAT IV?!?! Get out of here.17
CAT IV means a potential recruit scored between 10 and 30 on the AFQT, the Armed Forces Qualification Test. Recruits must score at least a 32 to join the Marine Corps. A few exceptions are created for extraordinarily talented recruits that have exceptional skills. This post is very likely engineered by the recruiting command to give hope to the lowest echelon of recruits, if they can read it.


The “Best Answer” is likely from the same recruiter and is posted to reassure academically challenged potential recruits. The responses by Henry and Wine are obviously not sanctioned by the military entrance processing command.

Here’s another:


I saw a job ad for a “linguist” on and it was for the U.S military. I’m an interpreter already and always looking for new work. I signed up and got an interview. I had NO IDEA, what to ex- pect. I was just looking for more work. I got there, and was blown away. First off, they had me take the ASVAB which I was NOT pre- pared for. I didn’t think I would ACTUALLY be joining the military if I was gonna work as an interpreter for them. So I took the test, I had no idea what to expect, I thought it was gonna be really easy.

I didn’t think I had an issue on the language portion (English and Reading Comprehension) but I hadn’t taken a math class for four years and it’s always been my toughest subject, and I am AWFUL at problem solving, I was never good at it, so I’m pretty sure that had a lot to do with my low score. Does a 26 practically mean I could be mildly retarded? 18


What we see here is a tendency to suggest that jobs requiring advanced degrees might be within the realm of possibility for someone who op- erates at an elementary school level. Imposters say they’re struggling to score a 31 and are looking for high paying jobs. Readers can dream of being all they can be, but infantry is typically the reality for enlistees who barely score a 31.

The military is still largely an archaic institution, a throwback to the 19th century with an antiquated, authoritarian structure and mind- set. Sometimes, however, it can be surprisingly forthright. Sometimes, though rarely, it demonstrates the honesty and transparency that are appropriate for a responsive governmental institution in a 21st century democratic republic. A case in point is an article by Lance Corporal David Flynn, “A Snapshot of a Recruiter’s World,” which appeared in Marine Corps News in June of 2011.19 Flynn tracks Staff Sgt. Michael Hauck, Recruiting Station Baltimore, as he makes the rounds between two Maryland high schools, I go to Duval High School every Thursday and Friday,” said Hauck. “On Monday and Tuesday I go to Bowie High School. I spend so much time at the schools that they’ve given me offices at both where I can meet with students.” Hauck tutors students on the ASV- AB in his offices.

It’s not uncommon for recruiters to have offices in schools across the country. They’re often regarded as supplemental guidance counselors, although most are staff sergeants with little or no college. JROTC in- structors teach credited courses without degrees.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) urges guid- ance counselors to steer “at risk” youth toward the Army’s “Planning for Life” (PFL) program, ostensibly designed to help students further their education and plan for life. The ASCA claims “at-risk” youth re- ceive motivational messages and tools to strengthen “mind, body and soul” during half-day workshops co-hosted by the Army and commu- nity groups.20

The article on the Maryland recruiter describes how Staff Sgt. Hauck brought Duval history teacher Brent Sullivan to Parris Island earlier that year to attend the Educators Workshop and experience re- cruit training first hand. Each year, from October through May, Marine Corps recruiters invite high school educators, counselors, coaches, and other influencers to visit Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. There, they witness firsthand the Marine Corps’ recruit-training program.21 Teachers get to shoot weapons and pretend to be a recruit. They even get yelled at by drill instructors. “We’re an all-recruited force,” said Hauck. “Of course we all volunteered, but someone had to find those volunteers.”

Is it a recruited force or a volunteer force?  Is it fair to say impressionable teens “volunteer” for military service when so much institu- tional coercion is involved?

The access military recruiters enjoy on a given high school campus is largely determined by the principal. If the principals of Bowie and Duval high schools in Maryland didn’t want recruiters to use office space to regularly prepare youth for the military’s enlistment test, that would be the end of it. Although the military is chipping away at its goal of school ownership, local communities are legally empowered to exercise day-to-day control over their schools.

The office of a public high school principal occupies a unique position in American society. A retired U.S. Marine Commander and a pacifist Quaker may be principals in neighboring high schools under the nominal jurisdiction of a school board, each exercising a remark- able degree of autonomy. There are few institutions in America where one individual exerts such direct, unfettered control over the daily lives of so many.

As we’ve seen, the access granted to military recruiters on high school campuses is a function of the culture of an individual school, but it is also determined by the geographical region of the country and the particular recruiting brigade and battalion.

The relatively progressive New England states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont have military enlistment rates of 1.48, 1.26, 1.43, and 1.63 recruits respectively per 1,000 youth aged 18-24. Meanwhile, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama have rates of 3.45, 3.46, 3.25, and 3.15.22 It’s not a shocker that young men and women from states of the old confederacy are twice as likely to join the military as youth from New England states. Gen- erally, southern states appear most likely to have an open-door policy regarding military recruiters, followed by schools from the Midwest, West, and Northeast. Of the top 10 states that select ASVAB Option 8 to protect student privacy (See the Chapter on Military Testing) five are from the Northeast and the rest are from the West, with the exception of Minnesota and Nebraska, where robust citizen activism has pressured school authorities to take steps to seek parental consent when children are tested by the recruiting command.

We also see variations in the ASVAB data that correlate closely to the high schools covered by particular Recruiting Brigades. High schools in the 3rd Recruiting Brigade in Fort Knox, Kentucky, which encompasses Recruiting Battalions in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Great Lakes, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Nashville, are much more likely to require ASVAB testing than schools in the 1st Recruiting Brigade, headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland, which recruits from high schools in the Northeast.

To put this discussion into context, consider the rebellious, obsti- nate, contrarian 17- year-old who is not getting along with his parents, who are frightened by his stated intentions to join the military. Consid- er the recruiting command that gathers a virtual portrait of the youth for its targeted, sophisticated pitch and consider the school that allows recruiters to “chill” with students in the cafeteria during lunch.

In addition to the presence of military recruiters in our schools, the military also manages to “penetrate the school market” through the following DOD-supported programs operating in the nation’s public schools:


  •    4-H Tech Wizards
•    Adopt a School Program
•    Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
•    Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program
•    Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
•    Army Educational Outreach Program
•    Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, Battlefrog
•    Building Engineering and Science Talent
•    Camp Invention
•    Career Exploration Program
•    Civil Air Patrol
•    Civilian Marksmanship Program
•    Computers for Learning Program
•    Cyberpatriot
•    ECybermission
•    Expanding Your Horizons
•    FIRST Lego
•    FIRST Robotics Competition
•    FIRST Tech Challenge
•    Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science
•    Internship Programs for High School Students through the Army Educational Outreach Program
•    Iridescent
•    Junior First Lego League
•    Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Program
•    Junior Solar Sprint
•    March to Success
•    Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
•    Mathcounts
•    Math Video Challenge
•    Mobile Discovery Center
•    National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program
•    Naval High School Science Awards Program
•    Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
•    Navy Seal Fitness Challenge (Archived)
•    Navy STEM
•    Project Partnership for All Students’ Success
•    Remotely Operated Vehicle Program
•    Research & Engineering Apprenticeship Program
•    School Challenge
•    Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, SEAP
•    Sea Perch
•    Starbase Program
•    Students Taking Active Roles
•    Summer Engineering Experience for Kids
•    Ten80 Education
•    US First Robotics
•    US Navy Music for Recruiting Program
•    UNITE
•    U.S. Army Reserve National Scholar/ Athlete Award Program
•    U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps
•    We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution
•    West Point Bridge Design Contest
•    Young Marines

Counter-recruiters have legal rights to access schools

Rick Jahnkow with the Project on Youth & Military Opportunities (Project YANO) is widely regarded as the ultimate source for a range of counter-recruitment issues, particularly the access activists have to the nation’s high schools to counter the message of recruiters.

In Jahnkow’s words:

For anyone who might be seeking school access, it’s useful to know that there are solid legal arguments in favor of allowing groups to disseminate negative factual information on military enlistment
in schools. While it would not be wise to litigate the issue in the current judicial climate—with a very conservative, pro-military Supreme Court—it’s good to know what the lower courts have said on the topic so we can thoughtfully bring it up when necessary.

Jahnkow outlines a host of lower court rulings, including the 9th Circuit
Appellate Court’s decision, which says,

“[I]t has long been recognized that the subject of military service is controversial and political in nature.” The court went on to say that if a school has created a forum for advocates of military service,
“the Board cannot allow the presentation of one side of an issue, but prohibit the presentation of the other side.” (San Diego CARD v. Grossmont Union H.S. District, 1986)

These rulings make it clear that along with presenting positive alternatives to the military in schools, counter-recruitment groups have a legal right to present negative facts to help students fully evaluate the military as a career option.23

Notes – Chapter 4

1. Data received through a Freedom of Information Act Request; Database documenting U.S.Army recruiter visits to Massachusetts schools in the Springfield Company from October 1,2012 to September 30, 2013. USAREC Albany Recruiting Battalion.
2. Military Recruitment in Western Massachusetts High Schools. (2015, March 1). RetrievedAugust 8, 2015, from
3. The state data was created from the national database received on December 18, 2013 from Yasmeen Hargis, FOIA Analyst For Suzanne Council, Senior Advisor on behalf of Paul J. Jacobsmeyer, Chief, Freedom of Information Office of the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff FOIA Request Service Center 1155 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1155.
4. FOIA Data
5. “Robert E. Lee High School.” School Counseling Home / Military Recruiters. Staunton, VA Public Schools. Web. 20 July 2015.
6. 1-4 (c) USAREC Pamphlet 350-13 School Recruiting Program Handbook Headquarters, United States Army Recruiting Command September 1, 2004 army_recruiter_hdbk.pdf.
7. Garcia, V. (2013, August 1). ARMY.MIL, The Official Homepage of the United StatesArmy. Retrieved August 11, 2015, from < >
8. Mobile Exhibit Company’s Interactive Semis. (n.d.). Retrieved August 11, 2015, from
9. ADP 622 - Army Leadership. (2012, August 1). Retrieved December 24, 2015, from
10. Zwerdling, D. (2014, January 6). Army Takes On Its Own Toxic Leaders. Retrieved Au- gust 11, 2015, from
11. Troops to Teachers Proud to Serve Again.” Texas Troops to Teachers. Web. 07 Mar. 2016. (Archived).
12. Nenetsky, Dr. Christene. “Texas TTT Partners with Houston School District.” Military. com. 4 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Mar. 2016.
13. Martin, Sarah. “Troops to Teachers program offers post-Army careers.”
7 April. 2014. Web 07 Mar. 2016
14. Saltman, Kenneth J. and Gabbard, David A. “Education as Enforcement: The Militariza- tion and Corporatization of Schools.” Routledge, 2011 – 320 pages
15. Box, Col. John. “ARMY.MIL, The Official Homepage of the United States Army.” AGuide to Intelligence Driven Prospecting. The United States Army, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 20July 2015.
16. “ASVAB HELP! NEED TO SCORE A 50 but I Got a 17 :(?” Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo!,2013. Web. 20 July 2015.
17. “Im a category 4 asvab wavier” Yahoo! Answers. Yahoo! 2016. Web. 22 April 2016,
18. I got a 26 on my ASVAB? Yahoo Answers. Yahoo! 2013. Web. 20 July 2015
19. David Flynn, Lance Corporal. “Marine Corps Recruiting Command.” A Snapshot of aRecruiter’s World News Article Display. The United States Marine Corps, 30 June 2011. Web.
20 July 2015.
20. Dahir, Carol, E.D. Planning for Life: Developing and Recognizing Exemplary Career Planning Programs. A Resource Guide for Counselors. American School Counselor Associa- tion, Alexandria, VA. Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, KY. 2001-00-00 72 p.
21. “4th Marine Corps District.” Resources Educator Resources. United States Marine Corps. Web. 20 July 2015.
22. “Military Recruitment 2010.” National Priorities Project. 30 June 2011. Web. 21 July 2015.
23. Jahnkow, R. (2011, April 30). Antiwar group claims message stifled. Retrieved December
29, 2015, from

Pat Elder is the director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to prohibit the automatic release of student information to military recruiting services from the nation's high schools. He is also creator of the website, which documents the deceptive practices used by the US military to recruit students into the armed forces.

 Revised 01/30/2022



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