I was at the mall earlier today and stopped by to speak with a couple Army recruiters. No one else was stepping up to speak with them, so I didn’t feel as though I would be intruding. The two fellows were young, probably late 20s, and quite respectful, calling me sir (though simultaneously scanning the crowd for eye contact or button-holing). Looking at me, I suspect they knew they would get no traction because I’m too old to enlist (I learned the cut-off age is 42, recently raised from 40).
They said they couldn’t speak for other branches of the military but insisted that in joining the Army, recruits could choose their own “jobs,” and as long as they passed through training without undue difficulty, would be happily ensconced in that role, presumably away from a vulnerable combat position. Helicopter pilot and military police were apparently the most sought after “jobs.” Interestingly, they reported that a fair number of interested young men couldn’t handle the skills necessary to obtain a fairly routine technical job, such as computer operator or aircraft maintenance specialist. At no point did they mention whether recruits who failed to qualify for safe “jobs” got recycled into the combat infantry pool, and I was too polite to ask the question directly.
I was also interested to learn that in the recruitment process, they have to be very clear that the Army isn’t like a video game where “players” get to go on a rampage and kill baddies. Apparently, there a fairly commonplace logical disconnect among a lot of young men that being in the Army gives you impunity to wreak mayhem and that that would be a cool thing to do.
I’m holding back on predictable (for me, anyway) spin and commentary and simply reporting what I learned in a brief encounter with Army recruiters. There was no controversy or rancor in my enchange with them, and I am not trolling for any now.