ON THE GROUND ANNOUNCEMENT:
On The Ground Summer Meeting
This will be a good chance to reunite, discuss some general strategy for next semester (what projects we want to take on, what issues, etc.) and put down a rough calendar.
[Following are some clips concerning the war... Since we haven't been meeting together this summer I haven't really been sure how to use this listserv. If anybody has any ideas for this newsletter, or anything they want posted please send them to email@example.com and I will post them. I feel like all I ever post is this horrible, horrible news. But from the look of the American media its like Afghanistan just passed out of interest... like the whole thing is over and its time for all of those "third-worlders" to blend back into the picturesque landscape while our heroes speed off to new adventures.]
US soldiers stormed the homes of Afghan villagers after they were bombed in a US air-raid last weekend and barred people from treating their wounded relatives, outraged Afghans said here. "First they bombed the womenfolk, killing them like animals. Then they stormed into the houses and tied the hands of men and women," Mohammad Anwar told AFP at Kakrakai village in central Uruzgan province's Dehrawad district. "It was cruelty. After bombing the area, the US forces rushed to that house, cordoned it off and refused to let the people help the victims or take them away for treatment," he said. "Many of the injured with broken arms and broken legs died due to loss of blood. Until seven or eight o'clock in the morning the Americans did not allow anyone to help the injured and to cover the bodies. Most of their clothes had been burnt off (in the attack). They kept filming and photographing the naked women."
'Media Sizzle for An Army of Fun'
Carefully multiracial and coed, the video gets a lot of its juice from an undertone of foreclosed civilian possibilities. It beckons the non-affluent who feel trapped by a lack of appealing options.
"Probably if I hadn't joined the Army," says a 19-year-old woman, "I would be doing the same thing most of my friends are doing, which is working fast food." In contrast, her story has a happy twist. Army recruiters "told me about the college fund that I'd be getting. ... And really, that was the kicker for me, 'cause college was priority."
Another soldier cites dollar figures: "I got my degree from George Washington University, a degree that would cost me $40,000 -- but cost me about 500 through the Army." An African-American medical tech says that the Army permitted him to "get to see some cool things in the O.R. as far as the surgeries are concerned." An Army-trained chef looks forward to the day she can open her own restaurant.
"Basically," says a male reservist, "I get to play James Bond in the Army. I participate in stuff like conducting liaison interviews with potential spies. I love my job. It'll also help in my civilian job in that I work a lot with computers." A female soldier, identified as "interrogator" and "Spanish linguist," also beams with pride as she offers an explanation to the camera: "I can't really tell you a lot about the job, 'cause it is secret."
Few could doubt the youthful energy. Or the hopeful stamina. Or, beneath the surface, the numbed capacity for immense cruelty.
When a helmeted captain -- seated at the controls of a helicopter -- speaks about being part of the Army's "air cavalry," her voice is a blend of military fervor and adolescent zest. "The mission of the cav is to spot the enemy," she says. "It's cool, too, because we get to engage the enemy as well with the guns and everything on our aircraft. It's a challenge and it's really, it's a lot of fun. Heck, what other job can you fire weapons in?" She laughs.
Piled onto a huge tank, some soldiers are having a ball. One says: "We got the biggest toy in the world."
Recruiters are starting to distribute 1.2 million free software discs for a pair of new computer-game play adventures called "America's Army, the Official U.S. Army Game." This summer, most of those discs will be attached to video-game magazines. And the Pentagon is inviting youngsters to download the software from the Internet.
Inducing enlistment costs money. The Army has set aside $7.5 million for its initial video-game project. That's a bargain, according to Lt. Col. Casey Wardynski, director of the office of Economic and Manpower Analysis: "The game pays for itself if only 300 Americans say that this gaming experience convinced me that this is the right thing to do."
Overall, the Army is spending $150 million a year to sell itself to potential recruits. And, of course, the current advertising campaign is the result of rigorous calculations.
When the secretary of the Army announced a major overhaul of recruitment themes in early 2001, he pledged that "market research will now be an ongoing part of how the Army thinks about how it communicates with young people." At his side was Linda Wolf, the CEO of the Army's main private ad agency, Leo Burnett Worldwide. "The key with any advertising is understanding the target that that advertising is directed at," Wolf said. She added: "We dug into our target and really understood them."
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