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The Army, in Need of Recruits, Turns Focus to Liberal-Leaning Cities

Notice how they are trying to pitch the military market by "playing down combat and emphsizing job training and education." But when it comes time to kill people, jobs and education won't be on the minds of these young boys.


SEATTLE — Army recruiters in Seattle can earn a Friday off for each new soldier they enlist. But in a city with a thriving tech industry and a long history of antiwar protests, the recruiters haven’t gotten many long weekends.

The Army is not quite counting on miracles, but after falling 6,500 soldiers short of its goal nationwide for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, it is trying a new strategy that might seem almost as unlikely.

Rather than focus on more conservative regions of the country that traditionally fill the ranks, the Army plans a big push in 22 left-leaning cities, like Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, where relatively few recruits have signed up.


“We want to go into Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City,” Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the head of Army Recruiting Command, said. “These are places with a large number of youth who just don’t know what the military is about.”

The approach may seem like hunting for snow in Miami. But Army leaders say that all they need to attract enlistees in those cities are a surge of recruiters and the right sales pitch.

The pitch they have used for years, playing down combat and emphasizing job training and education benefits, can work well when civilian opportunities are scarce. But it is a tough sell these days in a place like Seattle, where jobs are plentiful and the local minimum wage of $15 an hour beats the base pay for privates, corporals or specialists.

Instead, General Muth said, the Army wants to frame enlistment as a patriotic detour for motivated young adults who might otherwise be bound for a corporate cubicle — a detour that promises a chance for public service, travel and adventure.

“You want to do a gap year?” the general said. “Come do your gap year in the Army.” (Figuratively speaking, of course: Enlistees commit to serve for two to six years.)



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