Military recruitment happens when an army requests voluntary enlistment into the army. Military recruiters will often appeal to younger people for enlistment. The main attractions of army enlistment include patriotism, war, money and education. Military recruitment is required only in countries that do not have compulsory conscription.
Before World War I, military recruitment for the U.S. army operated at state level. It was not until the two world wars that military recruitment became a national concern. Recruitment methods have varied depending on the political and economic situation. In times of war, the army focused on labor and manpower needs, versus times when war did not pose a threat and the army attracted its recruits by taking a more individualistic approach. Recruiters portray the army as a means of establishing one's identity and achieving a new status in society. The army also contends that military service provides job skills which will facilitate employment after the army.
Matthew J. Morgan describes the modern perception of the military as a problematic one. He says, "The disconnect between today's armed forces and society may be aptly described as one of apathy rather than hostility. The peacetime military seems to be often viewed as irrelevant to the major issues of popular life. This leads to less attention to military affairs and a reduced familiarity and comfort with the military, which may become a self-perpetuating trend." Modern culture has become extremely individualistic, leading army recruiters to develop methods and offer benefits which may appeal to the American public's needs. The army is forced to compete with economic opportunities provided elsewhere, making military recruitment dependent on a fluctuating market. The way American youth perceive military service is also a powerful factor in army recruitment. A former Army Vice Chief of Staff, General John Keane, said that teenagers "do not see the military as a career or a way to get ahead," and are "more likely to view enlistment in the military as a last resort." Morgan attributes this gap to changes in military policy, spending and demographics. Other contributing factors include public opinion, a lack of certain values and contrasting social needs.
In the event of a war, military recruitment is bolstered by nationalistic ideals and the possibilities of obtaining glory on the battlefield. Patriotism is the overruling selling point. Yet when a war does not seem inevitable, military recruiters must come up with alternative strategies. The U.S. army has advertised the army as an ideal environment for self-realization. Their slogans have included "be all you can be," "get an edge on life," "it's not just a job, it's an adventure," "the few, the proud," "aim high," and "be part of the action." Military recruiters often visit high schools, as younger men and women are most susceptible to the attractions of military service. High school graduates must pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test before joining. Recruiters will detail the financial bonuses the army has to offer. Those that enlist in the army will also benefit from free enrollment in U.S. colleges. The U.S. army promotes itself not only as giving the experience of a lifetime, but also as a provider of career opportunities. Army commercials have demonstrated the army's recruitment methods and selling technique. Commercials that carry the slogan "army strong" portray the army as the opportune environment for not only developing physical endurance but strength of character and commitment.
Counter recruitment is a movement that attempts to prevent army recruiters from enlisting civilians into the army. Counter recruitment is opposed to war and has accused army recruiters of several violations. Counter recruitment began after the Vietnam War and gained momentum during the post-September 11 war on terror. They claim that the army takes advantage of underprivileged youth in what they call a "poverty draft." Counter recruitment also accused army recruiters of unethical and dishonest conduct. They also claim that the army's assurance that recruits will be paid and offered scholarships to college are unfounded since not all those who apply are deemed eligible and not all those who are eligible actually receive those benefits. Counter recruitment battled against George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, which required high schools to provide all phone numbers and contact information of their students in order to receive federal funding. Counter Recruitment has worked to inform parents and students that they can always "opt out" of providing this information. Counter recruiters set up booths at school job fairs alongside military recruiters in order to deter students from joining the military.