Dwindling recruits

By Jillian Milam
September 16, 2005

Jerry Zurek

According to the Washingpost.com, the Defense Department is working with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school and college students to help the military identify potential recruits.

This has angered a lot of people due to the fact that kids are getting phone calls at home in attempt to “sell” or “advertise” the idea of joining the military. In my opinion, this can viewed in a number of ways.

The country is in need of more positions in regards to the military with the war in Iraq and the apparent “dwindling enlistment in some branches,” according to Washingtonpost.com. As with any other business problem, people of authority would tend to discuss the problem with the lack of success, or in this case, lack of recruits, and pin-point a solution that will result in more business, or more recruits. For the majority of the time, the solution to this type of problem is marketing. Businesses come up with a plan to get their name out there, to create popularity and interest. This is similar to the marketing plan the Defense Department has developed. When taking this into consideration, one can believe that what the Defense Department is doing is reasonable. Officials have defined a problem, “dwindling enlistment,” and are attempting to resolve it by targeting their market, students beginning at the age of 16, and putting forth effort by researching potential candidates and giving them a call.

However, when taking a deeper look into the details of this marketing scheme, certain aspects of our lives are investigated that could be considered dangerous or unnecessary. According to Washingtonpost.com, our Social Security numbers are being explored so as to, “provide a higher degree of accuracy in matching duplicate data records.” However, I believe that marketing the military to potential recruits holds no grounds to expose our Social Security numbers, especially since they are not mandatory or even necessary in this situation. Putting students at risk of identity theft in order to make the Defense Department feel secure about their impending military joinees makes a lot of people, including me, feel not-so secure. The fact that the marketing company doing this does not have a privacy policy stated on their website doesn’t help this thought either.

Another aspect of this new system that I don’t particularly agree with is the idea that they are able to use our personal information for government causes. Law enforcement, state tax authorities and Congress are a few of these other uses, according to Washingtonpost.com. If businesses utilizing marketing proposals as this do not share our personal data with outside entities, I don’t believe the Defense Department’s system should be any different.

While there are a few angles of this plan I do not agree with, I believe the motivation behind this plan is reasonable and acceptable. The military is a vital element in today’s society and if the Defense Department feels the need to market for recruits, then I find it lucid enough.

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Jillian Milam

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