American Friends Service Committee
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
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US Army Makes Surprise Claim: We're Endangering US High Schools
Peacework Co-Editor Sam Diener previously served on the staff of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. Bill Sweet, an AFSC and GI Rights Hotline volunteer, contributed research to this article.
In a bizarre twist, the US Army is claiming that they're endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people each year -- in the United States.
Until this year, the Army routinely publicized the schedules of these trucks. Organizers could therefore engage the public in dialogue about the controversial militaristic messages the recruiting trucks propound, and peace activists could win equal access at high schools which sponsor the pseudo-educational military recruiting visits.
In the mid-1990s for example, after a campaign initiated by the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors alerted activists across the country about the trucks' schedules, Women Against Military Madness in Minnesota nonviolently confronted the trucks' militarism at every turn. The following year, the Army declined to send any recruiting trucks into the state.
However, when Peacework requested the Spring 2005 schedule, Army Recruiting's public affairs office balked. Peacework filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and was turned down. Peacework appealed (for a copy of the appeal, please see our web site). As a result, the Army's lawyers now agree that basic information about the schedules must be revealed, but rejected Peacework's request for the recruiting trucks' future detailed schedules, claiming that to release the information would be a security risk.
Factually and legally, the Army's claim is of dubious merit, since all of the thousands of permanent military recruiting stations are in public locations. A recruiting truck is at no more risk than a recruiting station itself. The Army is attempting to illegally cover-up non-classified information in order to avoid public debate and to continue engaging in stealth-recruiting.
By attempting to avoid releasing public information, the Army has put itself in the position of making a legal claim that they are endangering the lives of the hundreds of thousands of US high school students visited by the recruiters' trucks each year.
Peace activists have long claimed that military recruiters put the lives of high school students (and the safety of the people they may be ordered to kill if recruited) at risk. Now the Army claims to agree.
The War Resisters League is initiating a new campaign to counter the military recruiting trucks. Those who wish to be notified if military recruiting trucks have been or will be arriving in your area can contact Steve Theberge, WRL, 212-228-0450, 339 Lafayette St, NY, NY, 10012; email@example.com, <www.warresisters.org>.
Among the trucks the US Army Recruiting Command is attempting to conceal from the public (see accompanying article) is a new vehicle, known as the Special Operations Van (SOF). According to the US Army Recruiting Command's Mission Support Battalion's website <www.usarec.army.mil/msbn/pages/SOF.htm>, "The SOF incorporates several exhibits. One can experience the excitement of flying a helicopter, test your skills and landing accuracy in the Airborne parachute simulator, or improve your driving or marksmanship (sic) in the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) system."
The new truck is egregiously militaristic, but it's purpose is the same as the rest of the recruiting trucks. The Army tells educators that the military recruiting trucks' visits will be educational. However, the Army's regulation (USAREC 601-93) governing the military recruiting vehicles belies this claim.
The regulation instructs recruiters to, "Schedule in the primary market whenever possible (i.e., HS and colleges). Priority should go to the hard to penetrate schools." (Section 3-7.b.) The regulation mandates that recruiters "Remain with the lead-producing touring exhibit while it is open to the public." (Section 1-5.e(5)).
The regulation also forbids the trucks from presenting a truly educational program.
Instead, they must "Ensure that exhibits create a favorable image of the
Army and current Army enlistment opportunities." (Section 1-5.a.)