October 01, 2007

Army seeks Indian soldiers

In tribes, tug of enlistment

Loyalty, money drive Indians in record numbersIn the six years since the Army began counting Native American recruits, the numbers have soared.

Those signing up for active duty increased more than 50 percent from 683 in 2001 to 1,048 in 2006. The number who have joined the Army Reserve has increased sevenfold over the same period--from 35 in 2001 to 253 last year, according to the US Army Recruiting Command.

There are about 22,000 Native Americans in all the services, a proportion corresponding to roughly twice their share of the population.

With the Army still struggling to meet its enlistment targets, recruiters have intensified their outreach to Indian tribes, staging job fairs at tribal events.

In places such as South Dakota, with numerous vast reservations, the military has assigned special recruiters to focus solely on Native Americans. In some tribes, including the Kickapoo, recruiters have persuaded tribal elders to encourage young people to enlist in the military as a way of preserving their tribal warrior traditions.

In Lawrence, Kan., recruiters say they find students at the Haskell Indian Nations University more receptive than those at the nearby University of Kansas.

"They are more patriotic. Their parents are more patriotic," Army Sergeant Shelton J. West said while sitting in his office at the Lawrence Army Career Center.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Mostly, writerfella holds that anyone, Natives included, who VOLUNTEERS for the US military today is on their own and that he holds out little sympathy toward their own personal decisions. After all, writerfella's own military service came about because of the draft, NOT anything approaching volunteerism. There is the perception among Natives that service in the military now and historically constitutes a surrogation for the mostly-lost 'warrior trials' both of recent and ancient past. Yet, writerfella has a stake in the current debacle: Devon Reed, writerfella's now-20-year-old grandnephew joined the US Army back in May and still is in training at Ft. Lewis, WA. Devon came home on emergency leave earlier in September for his mother Suzanna Reed's funeral, who mysteriously died on I-40 in late August near Albuquerque. Devon was able to tell the family that his unit DEFINITELY will be deployed to Iraq come January 2008, where he will serve on search-and-control patrols. writerfella's other nephews and grandnephews either are too old or too young so to be affected by the military's opportunistic ploys among Native Americans. Devon, however, was exactly situated in the Native age and mindset range that the military currently is exploiting...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

I don't have much sympathy for anyone who's enlisted to fight the unjust and immoral war in Iraq, either. When good people fight bad wars, bad things tend to happen to them.

Fortunately, we intellectual types don't believe in "warrior trials." Besides, the pen is mightier than the sword. ;-)